When gathering information to make an intelligent choice in oven technology, one quickly learns that there is a lot of conflicting advice. Unfortunately, much of the information out there is the result of limited experience, poor application of infrared energy, the opinions of competitors, etc. We hope to dispel some of these untruths…
Misconception: Electric infrared ovens cost more than gas convection ovens
Due to the minimal size of an electric infrared oven, the oven cost is often equal to or less than a convection oven designed for the same process. When you consider the cost of the saved floor space, electric infrared is far less expensive.
Misconception: Electric infrared ovens cost more to operate than gas convection
Shortwave infrared is typically 3 to 6 times more efficient than a gas convection oven. This means that gas heating costs need to be 3 to 6 times less than the cost of electricity. Also, one must consider that infrared ovens require no preheating, do not consume energy unless a product is present and are configured to heat only the thickness and width of the product being processed. These all add to the energy cost savings. Also, electric infrared does not require large horsepower recirculation blowers that add cost and consume energy. These all mean energy cost savings.
Misconception: Only one wavelength is best for a given application
From our years of experience, we have learned two things:
1) Shorter wavelengths, higher source temperatures, heat fastest and penetrate through coatings for inside-out curing.
2) Coatings simply require achieving a temperature (PMT) to cure. The faster you can achieve temperature, with process control and flexibility, the better. Note that the product absorbs heat energy directly from the shortwave infrared emitter, from the main reflector and from the oven interior. Each of these heat sources radiates at a different temperature (therefore different wavelength) – thereby providing “full-range” infrared heating.
Misconception: Infrared systems will yellow my coating
This is only true if the high-energy heat source is not harnessed and controlled accurately. This will not happen in an BGK system, as product temperatures will not exceed PMT.
Misconception: Infrared cannot cure my clear coatings
Definitely not true! We penetrate through the coating, heating the steel, and cure the coating from the inside out. Coatings of any color (i.e. clear, white, black) act as an insulator to keep in the heat and rapidly complete the process.
Misconception: Infrared emitters are too fragile and have a short life
Even though infrared emitters may at first appear fragile, they are designed for very rugged use. We can provide internal protection bars in situations where the product may contact the emitters. T3 infrared lamps have an expected life of 5000 hours when operated at full rated voltage. In an BGK system, lamps are seldom run at full voltage and often run intermittently, exponentially increasing lamp life. We have systems that have been installed for over fifteen years, running the originally supplied lamps.