This question is being asked with more frequency, especially since we are all interested in improving combustion performance, appliance service and efficiency.
Research Completed by Brookhaven National Laboratories
A recent comprehensive study was made by Brookhaven and the results were published in Paper No. 93-11, entitled: An Assessment of Fuel Oil Heaters. Several thought-provoking conclusions were presented in their summary. Foremost, are these:
“Nozzle and fuel line heating devices used to preheat ‘cold’ oil can maintain consistent viscosity of the fuel to within an acceptable range, improve atomization and reduce nozzle fuel flow rate.
“These heaters are most effective during the first two minutes of burner operation. The combined effects of improved atomization and reduced fuel flow rate (with relative increase in excess air) during this period leads to reduced transient smoke.”
Help Provided During the Cold Start-Up Mode
This research confirms the fact that heating the oil in the nozzle can improve the ignition and flame quality during cold start-up. After the flame has been present for several minutes, the radiant heat upon the nozzle and friction heat from the fuel unit gearset contribute to maintaining increased oil temperatures. Therefore, the greatest benefit is realized during the start and ensuing moments of combustion.
How Does the Nozzle Line Oil Heater Work?
The Beckett START HELPER simply clamps around the nozzle line and is continuously energized to provide the help needed at the beginning of the start cycle by maintaining the oil temperatures at 130° – 140°F during standby. It also provides some additional heating during the operating cycle. (8-12 watt rating)
Inside the START HELPER is a solid-state, self-regulating heating element that maintains the temperature in the nozzle line. As the oil temperature drops, the heat output from the element increases to compensate.
In summary, the benefits are: more consistent viscosity, better atomization of oil droplets, cleaner combustion at start-up, more rapid flame stabilization, less soot and heat exchanger fouling, which adds up to reduced service hassles and improved efficiency. Further, it is easy to install, as shown in the diagrams that follow.