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Customizing the standard S-Series for better performance in humid environments


In warehouse and distribution center spaces where our standard S-Series HTHV (high-temperature heaving & ventilation) heaters are commonly installed, the units see 20-30+ year lifespans under routine maintenance and within the range of normal environmental conditions.

However, not all applications are “standard” and need specific conditions to be considered in the system design. A prime example of a situation where a facility needs the heat throw and efficiency that our S-Series provides, but with an overly humid environment, is that of heating a carwash tunnel. 

First, the facts: the car wash industry is one of the fastest-growing industries in the U.S., valued at a record $14.21 billion in 2020 and expected to expand 4.8% annually from 2021 to 2028. Based on conversations with industry leaders, a significant portion of their profit comes in the winter months; however, outside winter weather conditions paired with open bay doors present a challenge to keeping the tunnel warm enough for the car wash equipment to stay optimally functional. Closing the bay doors to retain heat is not an option because people may assume it is not open for business if the tunnel doors are closed. 

Chains Mike’s Carwash and Crew Carwash partnered with the Cambridge applications engineering team to develop solutions to the heating and equipment longevity challenges they faced in their tunnels.

A simple, yet effective solution: a Cambridge S-Series HTHV unit that keeps the bay from freezing and can often double as a method of drying a vehicle once the cleansing process has been completed. The S-Series meets the heating and airflow needs well and can be adapted to provide optimal performance and unit longevity amidst high humidity levels and corrosive environments that exist in car wash tunnels. 

The standard unit for Mike’s and Crew’s car washes was an S1200 unit with a stainless base, downturn housing, burner, discharge duct, and 12” roof curb and rail. However, these units historically lasted only two years before needing extensive maintenance due to the high humidity levels put out by the continual wash process.

In addition to the impact humidity had on the units, the tunnels also experienced high acidity levels from the strong mineral acids - hydrochloric, nitric, and sulfuric acids - used in their car wash process. The corrosion rate of galvanized steel is increased at low and high pH levels, explaining the discrepancy in unit life expectancies between S-Series in these environments versus those in standard conditions.

Our applications engineering team developed stainless steel selections to increase unit longevity – a stainless fan, fan shaft, unit housing, supply duct, damper and downturn.

These improvements were implemented two years ago. The stainless steel changes to the S-Series units in Mike’s and Crew’s car washes required far less maintenance. They were able to keep their tunnel doors open with less downtime replacing, adjusting, or fixing worn out components. Units remain structurally sound with the stainless improvements. 

While it is not yet known exactly how much the stainless additions have increased life expectancy, it is undoubtedly true that they have added time and reduced maintenance and part cost along the way. 

By virtue of a continuous improvement culture – we are continually making improvements to our products and process. If you want to discuss how our product lines and technology could help you bring healthy working environments to your people, our manufacturing rep network is local to you and can tour your buildings and discuss solutions specific to your space and climate. You can find your local rep here.

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