Damn ATEX!

The absolute largest problem in this project of mine is to find immersion heaters classified for the ATEX directive. Camco heaters is not an option in my country as we have these rules. It is just that itsy-bitsy tiny thing that is hindering me to start up.

I have sent a lot of emails lately to different companies but it seems very hard to get any help.

Right now I am looking at this page:

Immersion Heaters for Oil & Water for Industrial Environments & Hazardous Areas

I have found this heater with a very low watt density. My question is if it matter much if I choose a heater for oil or one for water?


  • edited April 2017

    Watlow, Wattco, Chromalox as well.

    All of these suppliers have engineers and specialists on call who will help guide you to the right product for the application and your jurisdiction.

    Your probably going to need to pick up the phone and get ready to do "lots of 'splainin".

  • I know @grim. But I just hate speaking on the phone. Even when I speak my native tongue :) I did it yesterday though and I am waiting for that company to get back to me again. I have conversations with a few mayor heating companies, but everything seems to take such a long time. Probably because my needs are so small compared to another industries. So meanwhile I surf around and try to find solutions myself.

    So what are the differences between a heater for oil and one for water. Anyone knows?

  • @MotherOFDragon surely someone like @sqeakyclean must have been thru that before and can help. The suppliers also just need a bit of a push and also must deal with this regularly. Even SD Europe must have been there many times.

  • Immersion elements for oil generally require significantly lower watt densities than for water.

    When you say water, you mean water, correct? This is bain marie? If so, you can use the highest watt density heaters with water.

  • I think it might be a good idea for SD Europe to look into this problem so they can recommend immersion heaters for their European professional customers.

    Sqeakyclean does not seem to be with us anymore :(

  • @MotherOfDragon I was using camco but switched to a stainless steel low density 5.5KW unit. Based in the UK and no issues when I ran it past an ATEX 'educated' fella. Key thing as I understood it was to make sure all connections are sound and sealed. ATEX and High dust/water/gas IP ratings on surrounding control boxes, lights and extractors and you should be fine.

  • @GD50 : nope, the Customs department in NL isn't interested in anything else than collecting excise, making sure you're not a known fraudster and do keep a detailed inventory. Last week I talked to a few fellow nano distillers over here, one of them recently started using a gas powered still and another one who succesfully got a license for his garden shed, in a build up area, for a home built 80L still which was already there when they came for the first inspection :)) And yes I've bought Camco's, the 5500W 02964 brewers edition to be exact.

  • @MotherOfDragon said: Sqeakyclean does not seem to be with us anymore :(

    If you've got the spelling right I am! I'm on a roll, ain't no one stopping us now :)

  • @squeakyclean: I can see the misspelling now :) But it was when I clicked on your name I got a "user can not be found" page. Strange! I'm glad you are still here :)

    Sweden is the land of many rules and always bend over to the will and laws of EU. I really hope we can do a Swexit soon. I am more of an anarchist and I am so willing to "cheat" right now. My electrician on the other hand is very strict and does not want to make any mistakes.

    @Spirited: I think I will give another ATEX man a ring tomorrow (other then the ones that made the classing of my place) and hear what he says.

  • @MotherOfDragon as @Spirited suggested, maybe a better route might be through an ATEX specialist that finds a path to use existing elements.

    I had a similar experience here while talking with building inspector about build out plans. Lots of ???'s in his eyes during my first talk. Then, after meeting with a code consultant that helped already some distilleries through the start-up phase, most of the questions gone by pointing to the right references in the rules.

  • @Unsensibel: I really recognize the question marks. Even the company that made the ATEX certificate plan was not sure about things. It was the first time they made a plan for a distillery, so maybe they interpreted the directive literally.

    When I find an end to my search for heaters I will let you all know :)

    Another question: As I have 5 ports I am looking for heaters about 6 kW each. But is it better to have fewer heaters with more kW if I find such? Or will it be more risk for scorching?

  • @MotherOfDragon : what matters regarding scorching is just the watt density, not the actual power per element. So if you happen to find an element with more than 5500W AND the same or lower watt density (= a lot bigger contact surface) then go for it. If not, don't do it...

  • @motherofdragon. I hate to ask a dumb question but do you need these special ATEX elements to start up or just to operate ? I would assume you could do some " test runs" with Comeco heating elements. But this opinion is coming from an Australian and we love bending the rules. I am a descendent of a number of convicts so I cant help but think like this. Good luck and go you good thing.

  • @MotherOfDragon are you not able to source ATEX certified heating elements? I can send you links. We have the same problem here in Australia and NZ, for us we need to use IECEx, very similar to ATEX, in fact in most cases you can get an ATEX instrument recertified for IECEx and visa versa. That is an expensive exercise and the most cost effective way to do this is by doing a bulk lot of units.

  • @TheMechWarrior I have now contact again with Thorne & Derrick in the UK and they in their turn are waiting to get answers from the manufacturer. I am looking into those Chromalox heaters I mention earlier. It has been kind of hard to get answers from companies selling heaters. Feeling neglected. Maybe it is because my company is small and they usually support larger ones. Please do send me some links. They can be useful.

    @DonMateo: Rule bender is my second name ;) Usually. If this thing with the ATEX heaters is taking a lot more time I will definitely buy the Camco heaters and hope I never get caught before I can be lawful.

  • buy a laser engraver and engrave ATEX onto the SD element guards???

  • @CothermanDistilling I have really thought about that too :-D

    I received good news a moment ago. Take a look at the offer Thorne & Derrick gave me. What do you think?


    800 x 301 - 42K
  • @MotherOfDragon : out of curiosity, what other things beside heating elements did you have to buy with ATEX or other safety certifications?

    I just bought a new barrel/drum opener, 45 EUR for a spark-free brass version instead of 25 for an ordinary one. Have opened barrels filled with racing fuel for years with the old one, never seen any sparks.

  • Everything electrical that falls inside the classified hazardous area. For clarification within AU/NZ refer to AS/NZS 60079 - explosive atmospheres together with the workplace health and safety act, hazardous goods storage code and a fire code I frequently forget along with a few other references. Basically the still and all the storage vessels where the %abv exceeds 20% etc is all classified as hazardous. The calculations are complex but for the most part the area around the vessels described above has a zone of a given radius in all directions, additionally the entirety of the ground is classified as hazardous due to ethanol vapour being heavier than air. This impacts on your drains as well. How high from the ground the hazardous area classification is will depend on too many factors to cover here but some examples are:

    rate of discharge/spill

    rate of air flow in the vicinity

    From my experience, the height can vary from 50mm to 1,000mm+ from the ground. Any electricals within this height for example, fork trucks, floor scales, mobile CIP units, mobile transfer pumps, general power points, anything electrical must now copmply with AS/NZS 60079, worse still all electrical work must be carried out by a hazardous area certified electrician with all works submitted to Work Safe for approval prior to any project being energised. $$$$$

    Since your floor area is now classified as hazardous this now also impacts on the lighting directly above the hazardous zone. For example, you can't install a standard light bulb due to the potential for hot particles to fall to the ground in the event of a catastrophic failure of the light fitting. The lighting needs to comply with the area classification.

    Any electrical item, as soon as it needs to comply with ATEX/IECEx...just add a few zeros. It's an expensive exercise to comply with safety standards but you only have to look at the Silver Trails Distillery incident to see the consequences of failing to comply with safety standards. I'm talking commercial here folks, at the hobby level there are no official regulations since this hobby doesn't exist officially. As a guide though, look through the regs/acts I've mentioned and you'll get a feel for where the legislation kicks in; it mentions minimum volumes stored and minimum volumes of vessels.

    @MotherOfDragon I'll send you the direct contacts to obtain the heating elements you need.



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