How to Calculate Heat Loss for Steam Pipes

How to Calculate Heat Loss for Your Steam Pipes

Many industrial facilities have steam pipes throughout their infrastructure regardless if the facility is a university or a manufacturing plant. Therefore, measuring varying degrees of heat loss is important to save money and protect your steam pipes with removable insulation covers. Understanding how to calculate heat loss is the first step towards realizing the overall benefit removable insulation can have on your steam pipes and overall facility.

Step 1: Steam Pipe Insulation Survey

First, inspect your facility and layout your heating system notes by the hottest pipes. Locate your high-pressure steam lines, your medium-pressure steam lines, your low-pressure steam lines then you condensate return. Conduct a through investigation by building, room, etc. You are looking for any steam piping, valves or component that is not insulated or is insulated and has an exterior touch temperature of > 140f. If the ladder, there is a good probability the insulation on the pipe is inadequate. Once the survey is complete, place the information in a excel or data base table with the following headers:

  • Location- Building or room number.
  • QTY- Length of Pipe or number of valves, traps, strainers, etc.
  • Component Type- Pipe, valve, strainers, traps, reducing, etc.
  • Flange Class- 125lb, 250lb, etc.
  • PSI or Temperature- What is the steam pressure or temperature of this component
  • Operating Hours- How many hours is this component operating per year?

Calculating Steam Pipe Heat Loss

From the temperature and component size you will be able to calculate the BTU Loss per hour un-insulated and insulated. Your calculations will look similar to this:

BTU loss per hour calculations

Knowing the MMBTU cost for fuel will allow you to then calculate your heat loss in dollars along with a expected ROI or payback from jacket you plan to purchase.

Insulation ROI Calculation for Steam Pipes

Removable Insulation Jackets are the Solution.

Once you’ve been able to use the above factors to calculate what your current level of heat loss is from your site, it’s time to find a solution for this issue. Removable thermal insulation jackets help to curb heat loss from your steam pipe valves, but also add another level of ease since the jackets are able to be removed at anytime for any reason. These insulation jackets not only save you money because they are helping prevent heat loss, but because they don’t have to replaced every time your steam piping system has maintenance. See this chart below to see to what extent your facility could be experiencing heat loss.

Energy Savings from Installing Removable Insulated Valve Covers

Source: http://www1.eere.energy.gov/industry/bestpractices/pdfs/steam17_valves_fittings.pdf

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