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    New IP68 connection box help external infra-red heaters meet approval

    Having produced a range of indoor quartz heaters for several years, Sol*Aire Heating Products Ltd. wanted to extend its range to meet the market demands for external heaters. However, as the heater was intended for use in marine applications among others, the design needed to gain an IPX6 rating which was proving difficult. By consulting with Hylec-APL, a specialist supplier of waterproof connectors, the design was transformed and the new range was able to meet market requirements.

    The use of infra-red (IR) heating technology has rapidly increased over recent years with the benefits of heating objects rather than the air being recognised as one way to save energy while still maintaining the required heat output. While indoor applications are numerous there is still a requirement for external heating.Often in difficult conditions such as might be expected in external and marine environments.

    Sol*Aire Heating Products Ltd. started manufacturing shortwave infrared heaters in 2008, with the initial designs aimed at larger indoor applications such as churches, school halls and warehouses. Its original range of two heaters quickly expanded which led to a decision to use modular components to keep the designs simple and reduce manufacturing costs.

    As part of this process Sol*Aire Heating Products asked electrical component specialists, Hylec-APL, to help identify the correct terminal block to be used across the whole range of heaters, which extends to a maximum of 8kW. As a crucial part of the design, it was important to have a properly rated, VDE certified product, to ensure reliable and safe operation of the heaters. However, while this was suitable for the indoor range, the marine range was proving rather more difficult to perfect.

    With a recognised market within the marine, agricultural and outdoor leisure industries, it was crucial that the existing product line was expanded with the addition of a model designed to withstand harsh outdoor conditions. From the open decks of ships and ferries, to milking parlours, to outdoor leisure activities, there is always a need for efficient, reliable and safe heating systems for both people and animals.

    Sol*Aire Heating Products had worked hard to design the main back box that would meet the requirements of a harsh outdoor environment, but this proved to be very difficult;mainly due to the need for the lamp cables to be moved during the commissioning of the heater. Fortunately Hylec-APL was able to offer a solution which answered their needs.

    Terry Spriggs, Product Marketing Manager for Hylec-APL, comments: “During a meeting with Sol*Aire Heating Products, the problem was explained and we soon identified a way to help. The solution was to use a properly sealed terminal box, in this case the TeeBox (THA.209), located inside the back box of the heater. In this way, the cables can still be adjusted during commissioning, but the required IP rating can also be achieved.”

    With less engineering required for the back box, the cost savings would more than cover the addition of the new terminal box. Prototype outdoor heater units were manufactured and tested to ensure that they would meet the IPX6 rating. With full approval gained, the new Marine range was now ready for launch and set to fulfil the requirements of customers operating in difficult environmental conditions.

    The TeeBox range from Hylec-APL is designed to offer OEMs, such as Sol*Aire Heating Products, a terminal box which can be customised to meet specific needs. With a choice of 3 or 4-way boxes which can be equipped with a range of terminal blocks, rubber seals and fixing screws, the range is designed to offer bespoke equipment available off the shelf.

    Terry Spriggs again, “Since the initial launch of these terminal boxes, we have had a great deal of interest across a number of industry sectors. The products’ high level of ingress protection makes them suitable for most environments and their simplicity makes them an attractive prospect for installers; especially where regular maintenance or service checks will be required. Our expert sales team is able to work with our customers to ascertain each application’s requirements and ensure the correct product is specified. Our large UK stock holding also means we are able to deliver at very short notice.”