PTC Heaters used In Windmills
It never dawned on me that “sparky,” my adventurous electronics engineer husband, was out looking for electronic circuits in the mountains of WVa. When he took off with our grandnephew on his side-by-side four-wheeler, I figured they were going for a joy ride in the mountains. It wasn’t until I saw the pictures it became apparent why he didn’t tell me what they were up to.
I would never have agreed for him to climb to the top of a 300 ft tall windmill in search of PTC heaters! The view was spectacular and unique opportunity to see the world from a unique vantage point. It was good that his guide had enough sense to shut down the 690-volt power coming from the windmill while they were inside exploring. Sparky probably would have peeked into all the cabinets with the power still on. I yet don’t know what a PTC heater is, but he showed me pictures of something sticking out the side of a fan heater with wires on it. He explained that this was how not to supply heat to a control cabinet. It seems that the company he works for has better-manufactured solutions for the problem.
Why finding this inside the windmill was exciting, I have no idea. Sparky tried to explain that on top of the mountain in the winter, the temperatures could get cold enough to affect the operation of the computer equipment inside. The controls need to operate even in the most adverse conditions to keep the propellers adjusted correctly, and the output of the turbines optimized. The 690 VAC produced by the turbines fed right into the power grid. When power wasn’t needed, converters supplied the power into large banks fo batteries for later use.
I am beginning to understand why he is always talking about how important manufacturing is to create a quality ceramic heating element. Each windmill is a substantial investment that needs to be operating throughout all types of weather conditions. Estimates or the cost of a 2 MW windmill installed is 3-4 million dollars.
Why are Manufacturers of PTC Elements Important?
The manufacturers of these unique heating devices are more important than conventional resistance heaters. The ceramic elements need to be manufactured to exact specifications to ensure the quality of a precise temperature gradient. Positive Temperature Coefficient devices heat to the specific temperature designed into them during manufacturing, then change characteristics increasing resistance effectively shutting off the current and maintaining the prescribed temperature.
The capability to maintain these precise temperatures make the elements especially suited for lab and industrial equipment where quality is essential for operation. Critical in manufacturing are the connections and integrating the heater element into other components.
While the ceramic PTC elements are very sturdy, care does need to be taken in the wiring and mounting of these devices for the best heating results. A proper manufacturer will offer a wide variety of components, built-in PTC elements that provide specific heating characteristics for design applications. They will also offer design for custom applications.
PTC Heating Circuits Require Fewer Components
Many applications don’t require the precision of lab equipment, but the reduced requirements for fewer circuit components and the reliability of these PTC devices can be advantageous. Industrial control panels require a lot of circuitry and components. The fewer components required, the more accessible the design and more space available for critical systems. The PTC thermistors can be paired with fans and environmental sensing devices to maintain ideal operating temperatures for complex circuitry and computer equipment.
Other Applications for PTC Heating Elements?
To maintain the fluidity of the materials used for printing solid objects, a precise heating source is required. Each type of material has a melting temperature that keeps the material fluid throughout the printing process until it’s deposited on the chosen substrate. Any application where the equipment is located outside in the adverse weather conditions is ideal applications for these heaters.
All PTC heating element manufacturers are NOT created equal.
DBK designs specialized equipment incorporating PTC heaters to fit a wide variety of applications. What is your application, and which one of these PTC ceramic heating elements or specialty heating units meet your design requirements and temperature applications?