In Why Radiant Heat Rocks (Part I) of this mini-series of articles I said that I wanted to highlight some of the more unusual applications for radiant heat that I’ve encountered over the years. This particular one is non-traditional in that, while still a heating application, it’s not one intended for comfort or occupants.
An Interesting Paint Problem
A customer contacted me one day with an idea. Could radiant heat help him with his particular problem? He had a business where he contracted to the local electrical utility to service their boom and bucket trucks. You’ve seen the type – the type of service vehicle with a boom arm with a bucket on the end that a utility lineman uses to gain access to the power wires and transformers high up on poles.
It was his task to remove the boom and bucket and refinish the boom arm with a particular type of “paint”. I don’t know all of the details, however the paint is a special type of epoxy coating that is non-conductive, hardy and probably has several other properties I hadn’t been told about. The important part is to understand that this particular epoxy finish had to be heated to a specific temperature range in order to cure properly.
The old way he was doing it was to remove the boom, prepare the surface, and apply the coating. Then he had to raise the temperature of his shop to the desired temperature so that the epoxy finish could cure. As you can imagine, heating the entire volume of air was a rather expensive proposition to him. Furthermore, the elevated temperature made it too warm for any other work to be conducted in the shop while he waited for the coating to cure. Also, given all the convective currents caused by the hot air system, dust and other dirt was being circulated in the space and speckled his finish.
Since radiant heat warms objects directly instead of first heating the air, I knew we had a solution for him. The idea we came up with was to build a box large enough in which to place the boom arm. Then we embedded Radiant Ceiling Panels into the walls of the box and insulated the outside. This design focused the radiant heat onto the painted parts with minimal heat loss. A thermostat was added to automatically maintain the desired temperature.
The result of directly applying radiant heat to the epoxy finish was nothing short of outstanding – even for someone who’s come to expect such things. The epoxy finish was able to cure in record time. Instead of taking days to cure in a hot-air filled shop, the radiant heat did it in a few hours! Since only the boom arm was heated, he was able to drastically reduce his energy costs. With no circulating dust and other contaminates, the finish was the best he had ever produced. His customer was so pleased with the finish and the turn-around time, he was promised a lot more work in the future.
Radiant heat is a very versatile form of heating and has many natural benefits that are not immediately apparent when you’re only familiar with hot air systems. I hope this story, and the others in this series, will get you thinking about employing radiant heat to work for you. So challenge us with a project! I bet we can come up with a solution for you.