In several applications, it is almost impossible for lubricant to stay fluid when the temperature is ambient. In these instances, using an oil heater is recommended, but there are a number of factors that must be considered before you go ahead.
Why use oil heaters?
There are a number of reasons why you might want to use an oil heater with your system. For example, if your equipment has splash-lubricated components, your lube will need to stay fluid so that it can lubricate all of the parts inside the component. However, since the viscosity of oil increases when it is colder, the splashing movement of the oil can be minimised, causing equipment to wear prematurely.
Many other lube systems circulate the oil throughout and within these systems. If oil viscosity gets too high, the oil has more difficulty flowing through piping correctly, and in some cases is not even pumped where it is needed at all. In either instances, it is important that the oil remains fluid enough to do its job, and an oil heater becomes very useful in this regard.
When does it make sense to use an oil heater?
Generally, it’s wise to use oil heaters in areas that are most likely to get very cold. However, they are not suitable for use with all applications in extremely cold conditions. For instance, you should not use an oil heater if the machinery you are using does not require the oil to be extremely fluid at all times, or in equipment designed so that lubricant can do its job effectively at any temperature.
If you use an oil heater in an application that does not really require it, all you will be doing is adding more stress to the system, which could cause it to fail more quickly. Of course, this could turn out to be very expensive for you.
Additionally, you should not use oil heaters if your lubricant has a longstanding problem with fuel dilution, because they can reach extremely high temperatures, and this can cause fluid to become even more diluted than before. Instead, you should fix the issue that is causing fluid ingression and then use a heater as necessary.
A final matter to be cautious of is using an oil heater with a lower refined oil. Sometimes, the heater can be the final straw that tips oil over the edge and causes an oxidative failure process.