Pipe heat tracing systems as protection against frozen pipes

Pipe heat tracing systems are used where industrial pipe insulation alone cannot prevent the water in the pipes from freezing. They provide frost protection as well as temperature maintenance and prevent liquids from freezing or pipes from bursting.

As a result, long downtimes, expensive damage, hazardous situations for people and environmental damage are avoided.

How a pipe heat tracing system works

A pipe heat tracing system consists of an electrical heating tape that is attached to pipes. The electrical heat tracing is powered by electricity and by converting electricity, the desired heat is generated. Through the conversion of electricity into thermal energy (heat), hot water pipes, for example, are kept at temperature or liquids are protected from freezing.

Different types of electrical pipe heat tracing

Reliable, powerful and efficient pipe trace heating solutions provided by eltherm:

  • Self-regulating solution: self-regulating heating cables change their output independently and automatically depending on the ambient temperature. If the resistance increases, the output decreases and vice versa. This process prevents the trace heating system from overheating, which means that in this case there is no need for additional regulation. Self-regulating heating cables can cover a temperature range of up to 250°C, depending on the design.
  • Solutions with temperature limiters: Non-self-regulating heating cables such as parallel or serial resistance heating cables must be controlled with specific measurement and control technology (controllers and thermostats designed for the respective heating cables). Depending on the ambient temperature, this technology switches the heating cable on and off. Ideal for applications requiring high flexibility and performance.
  • Mineral insulated solutions: These are particularly suitable for applications that require enormously high temperatures or extreme resistance to chemicals. Unlike plastic resistance heating cables or self-regulating heating cables, mineral insulated heating cables are designed for temperatures up to 1000°C.

Applications of a pipe heat tracing system

The use of a pipe heat tracing can prevent pipes, pumps and valves from freezing or even bursting at very low temperatures. Mainly, eltherm pipe heat tracing systems are used in industrial facilities:

  • Water and sanitary pipelines
  • Chemical and petrochemical industry
  • Oil and gas industry
  • Food industry

Installation of the pipe heat tracing system

Basically, the installation of the pipe heat tracing depends on its constructional design. In most cases, however, it is wound around the pipe from the outside or, alternatively, laid vertically along the pipe. It is important to ensure that the pipe heat tracing system is only installed after all other works have been completed. Only professionally trained personnel can guarantee proper installation and consequently ensure that the heat is optimally distributed along the pipe.


In general, a pipe/tank heated with electrical heat tracing should be insulated for reasons of cost-effectiveness. All common insulation materials can be used as insulations. The most commonly used insulations are mineral wool or PU foam - the choice of insulation depends on the temperature and operating conditions.

Heat tracing is used wherever heat loss must be prevented (frost protection of pipes, tanks and entire plants, transport of media in pipes, etc.), or snow or ice must be prevented (rails, heliports, roofs).

It is not allowed to mount a heating cable without insulation directly onto the pipe.

In general, there are no problems with heating plastic pipes. However, to improve heat conduction, the use of special aluminum strips is additionally recommended.

Products used

Self-regulating heat cables

Heat tape and heating cable

Hazardous Areas

Mineral-Insulated Trace Heaters

End of line lamp Ex-It-L & Ex-It-S

Variable Support Bracket EL-VSB

Junction Box, Round Ex-It-R

Fast Connector El-Clic

Temperature Controller Ex-TC

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