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Hot Water or Steam Boiler?

Steam or Hot Water

For more on Steam System Fundamentals

For more on Hot Water Fundamentals

 The primary purpose of the boiler is to supply energy to the facility's operations – for comfort heating, manufacturing process, laundry, kitchen, etc. The nature of the facility's operation will dictate whether a steam or hot water boiler should be used. Hot water is commonly used in heating applications, with the boiler supplying water to the system at 120°F to 220°F. The operating pressure for hot water heating systems usually is 30 psig to 125 psig (hydrostatic). Under these conditions, there is a wide range of hot water boiler products available. If system requirements are for hot water of more than 250°F, a high-temperature water boiler should be considered.

Steam boilers are designed for low-pressure or high-pressure applications. Low-pressure boilers are limited to 15 psig design, and are typically used for heating applications. High-pressure boilers are typically used for process loads and can have an operating pressure of 16 to more than 1,000 psig. Most steam boiler systems require saturated steam, which means the water and the steam in the vessel are at the same temperature.

Steam and hot water boilers are defined according to design pressure and operating pressure. Design pressure is the maximum pressure used in the design of the boiler for the purpose of calculating the minimum permissible thickness or physical characteristics of the pressure vessel parts of the boiler. Typically, the safety valves are set at or below design pressure. Operating pressure is the pressure of the boiler at which it normally operates. The operating pressure usually is maintained at a suitable level below the setting of the pressure relieving valve(s) to prevent their frequent opening during normal operation.

Some steam applications may require superheated steam. It should be noted that superheated steam has a high enthalpy, so there is more energy per pound of steam and higher (drier) steam quality. One example of an application where superheated steam may be required is with a steam turbine. The turbine's blades require very dry steam because the moisture can destroy the blades. When very high pressure or superheated steam is required, an industrial watertube boiler should be selected.