How Does a Steam Generator Work?

Many bathers often wonder where the steam of a steam bath comes from. They also wonder how it is generated and what is required for efficient steam production. This article will explain steam generators and everything needed to make steam.

Many generators for residential use are electrical in nature and can be installed nearly anywhere. This type of generator does not need to be close to the steam bath and can be installed as much as forty feet away. The basic requirement of a unit such as this is electrical connections and a supply of water. Some generators also require a drain.

Steam Generator Components

The steam generator consists of a holding tank, a connection for incoming water, and a steam outlet. There is an electrical element near the bottom of the holding tank used to heat the water. The size and the electrical rating of the element is a factor in determining the amount of steam the unit produces.

The holding tank must be airtight and very strong to allow steam to buildup and also to withstand the pressure that steam creates. Generally the holding tanks are made of steel.

The holding tank must have a pressure release valve for safety reasons. In the rare case that the steam pressure becomes to high the valve is necessary to keep the tank from exploding. An exploding steam tank will cause a large amount of damage to the area it is held in and can cause death to those near it.

Hot or cold water can be used for the incoming water supply. Hot water will build up steam more quickly, but many units can still provide steam within a reasonable amount of time with cold water.

The water level is controlled by a water level probe that is connected to a valve that turns the water on or off automatically. The valve is electric and uses a solenoid to control water flow. Before the water passes through the solenoid valve, it passes through a master shutoff valve. This is a simple mechanical valve that can be used to cut off water supply to the generator when it is in need of service.

As the steam builds it passes through the outtake pipe that is connected to the steam bath. The steam also passes through the steam heads which are controlled by either an on/off switch or a timer. The switch causes the steam head to protrude from the wall of the bath allowing the steam into the bath. Optional timers can be used to limit the amount of time the steam is allowed to generate and to turn of the generator automatically.

Despite the simplicity of the generator it is important that it be installed by a professional. If steam pressure builds up and cannot be released through a properly connected release valve, the generator can explode causing serious injury or death. A licensed plumber should be used to install the generator to guarantee the unit is safe.


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