Positive Temperature Coefficient (PTC) heater change resistance as they heat and cool. As the temperature of the heater or the ambient temperature increases, the electrical resistance also increases. In simpler terms, current flows through the heater when it’s cold, and the flow is restricted when the temperature gets hotter. PTC heaters do not use coils, wire or carbon fiber materials typically found in heaters, they instead use conductive inks printed on polymer-based substrates.
PTC heating systems offer a range of benefits that far exceed traditional wire or carbon fiber options. They will undeniably improve the safety and efficiency of your product. This technology heats evenly across the entire surface of the product and self-regulates to a designed temperature, which eliminates the possibility of overheating. These heaters run open-loop, without the need for external diagnostics or controls. PTC technology is a must for products that require safer, faster, or more uniform heating.
Benefits of PTC heaters
PTC heaters utilize a best-in-class technology that performs far better than other available solutions. The advantages of choosing a PTC heater include:
- Improved safety
- Self-regulates to prevent overheating
- "Fails to cold" in the event of a failure
- Proven reliability and durability
- Faster, more uniform heating
- Superior heat transfer with no hot spots
- No complicated electrical controls
- Multiple heat settings from a single controller
- Reduced power consumption
- Corrosion and water resistance
- Long service life
- Design flexibility
- Can operate with multiple temperature zones
- Environmentally-friendly manufacturing process
PTC heaters are used in transportation to improve the heating process within the vehicle, with applications including seat, mirror, and battery heaters. This technology is utilized in the automotive, construction, and agriculture industries because of its fail-safe, energy efficient, and evenly distributed heating qualities.
In the healthcare industry, PTC heaters provide a safe and reliable heating solution to regulate patients’ body temperatures. PTC heaters can be found in human and veterinary surgical tables, patient beds, rescue gurneys, dental chairs, mobility equipment, and more. They operate at lower temperatures and “fail to cold” if a complication occurs, which helps to reduce liability costs and keep patients safe.
PTC technology is ideal for wearable applications because it doesn’t require bulky electrical controls, is resistant to moisture and chemicals, and is minimally affected by bending and folding. These thin, flexible heaters can be made into custom shapes and sizes to fit within products such as outdoor recreational jackets, vests, gloves, socks, and portable seat cushions.
Within the aerospace industry, PTC heaters are used in seat, wall, and floor applications to keep the cabin warm. In addition to being an extremely safe heating solution, this technology meets the rigorous aerospace testing standards and regulations that are required.
Without the need for thermostats or sensing devices, PTC heaters run “open-loop,” which eliminates the potential for component failure. Golf carts, ATV’s, and UTV’s can utilize PTC heaters for seats, steering wheels, handles, and mirror defogging/de-icing. Because PTC heaters can operate with less power than traditional heating technologies, the vehicle’s battery life is maximized.
Outdoor seating venues such as stadiums, amphitheaters, and urban transportation stations are perfect applications for PTC heaters. These heaters are impervious to moisture and contaminants and deliver safe, uniform heating to the occupants with superior heat transfer, while consuming less energy than alternative heating technologies.
How are PTC heaters different from traditional heating technologies?
PTC heaters are flexible, printed, self-regulating heaters. Traditional fixed-resistance wire heaters utilize wires or coils to generate heat. PTC heaters utilize Positive Temperature Coefficient materials that exhibit a positive resistance change with an increase in temperature. When power is applied, the resistance increases and limits the electrical current to the heater. The heater self-regulates to its designed temperature, without the use of diagnostics, thermostats, or control units. Because they self-regulate, field problems and warranty issues are reduced. These heaters provide more uniform heat with no hot spots, require less power to operate, and are ideal for direct contact to skin. In addition, PTC heaters will make your products inherently safer, as any failure will “fail to cold,” independent of the failure mode.
Advantages of PTC heaters by GMN
As an ISO 9001-certified company, our process and quality controls allow us to produce PTC heaters that are more uniform and stable and have tighter temperature tolerances than competing PTC or fixed resistance heaters. At GMN, we can handle every aspect of the manufacturing process under one roof. We utilize advanced equipment and state-of-the-art controls in our production processes and offer in-house design and engineering assistance to create custom heaters that meet your exact specifications. We can also provide thermal analysis capabilities and on-site lab and environmental testing.
PTC heaters are resistant to moisture and chemicals. Compared to traditional wire heaters that can cause excessive and potentially dangerous temperature spikes when folded over, PTC heaters run cooler and can withstand mechanical abuse such as bending, folding, and piercing. They can also operate in the temperature extremes associated with outdoor environments. Our PTC heaters are equipped with a robust 0.110” quick connect, as seen in the photo on the left.
Still have questions? Download our free all-inclusive guide that will provide you with everything you need to know about PTC heaters.