Electrical Heat Tracing vs Steam Tracing
May 04, 2020

Overview of Heat – Tracing Systems

The practice of heating piping to keep the liquid in the piping at a constant/set temperature requires a heat tracing system.

For the purposes of this article, we can broadly classify heat- tracing systems into two categories:

  • Electric
  • Fluid

In the past, steam tracing has historically been a more common form of heat tracing but due to advancements in technology, electrical heat tracing has become a viable way of heat tracing as well.

There are many factors to consider when choosing a solution for your heat tracing needs.

You would need to look at:

  • Overall cost
  • Type of environment for installation
  • Effectiveness of solution and whether it can achieve your objective
  • Reliability of solution provider. (E.g. How many years in the trade?)

Read on to find out more about steam/heat tracing and the pros/cons of both.

What is Steam Tracing?

Steam tracing is a method of heat tracing that is implemented by circulating steam via steam lines around pipes to heat them to the desired temperature.

The steam lines would be insulated and in direct contact with the pipes that are to be heated.

Steam tracing can be used to:

  • Control temperatures
  • Prevent liquids from freezing due to outside temperature/winter season
  • Maintain a desired viscosity

The steam tracing system that is installed in industrial environments usually comprise of boilers and support equipment that is required for the system to be fully functional.

What is Electrical Heat Tracing?

Electrical Heat Tracing is an engineered system designed to maintain or protect process piping, equipment, vessels and instruments at defined temperatures and within specified design criteria.

An electrical heat tracing system is much more than just the heating cable. A large majority of commercial electrical heat-tracing systems are of the resistive type and take the form of cables that are placed on pipes.

When electric current is flowing through the resistive elements, heat is created in proportion to the square of the electric current and the resistance of the elements to the current flow.

If a Voltage is applied to a Resistance, Current would flow and Power would be dissipated.

E = I • R

P = I • E (Easy as a piece of pie)

where   I = Current

              R = Resistance

              E = Volts

              P = Power

Ohm’s Law is the basic operating principle of heating cables.

Power dissipated in the form of thermal energy = HEAT!

Supermec provides a complete system from design to installation, commissioning and testing. This includes products such as transformers, control and monitoring panels, power connections, heating cable, end terminations, and related accessories. We manage the heat you need – from pipe freeze protection, or process temperature maintenance, to process heat-up applications.

You may find out more about Electrical Heat Tracing here as well.

Steam Tracing vs Electrical Heat Tracing



We hope that you would now understand more about steam tracing vs heat tracing. Electrical heat tracing would be the solution of choice over steam tracing because:

  • Provides reliable pipe freeze protection
  • Temperature maintenance abilities
  • Better control over temperature levels
  • Safer system due to remote access and without the need to be near the pipes
  • Easier system to use due to technological advancements/improvements
  • Modern solution as compared to steam tracing
  • More energy efficient solution

As an expert in the field of heat tracing with many years of experience and having completed various large-scale projects. Supermec provides both constant wattage and self-regulating trace heating systems. Get in touch with our friendly electrical heat tracing experts at or you can drop us a call at +65 68619522 to find out how we can assist you with your heat tracing needs and install a heat tracing system to help your business objectives today.