Pipe insulation is one of the most cost effective ways to save energy. Insulated pipes retain heat longer which means heated hot water isn't wasted heating the pipes before it comes out of the tap. This saves energy and is reflected on a lower overall energy usage cost. According to the American Society of Heating, Refrigerating and Air-conditioning Engineers, there are minimum insulation sizes for hot-water pipes. Depending upon the size of the pipe and the temperature of the water within, pipes are covered with a certain thickness of insulation. Regardless of the insulation material, like foam or fiberglass, the sizes remain the same for each specific pipe.
1-Inch Pipes or Less
Household piping is generally 1-inch diameter. For regular household hot water use a minimum of 1-inch-thick insulation is needed. In a low-pressure steam application, 1 1/2-inch thickness is needed. In a medium-pressure steam situation, use 2-inch pipe insulation, and for high-pressure steam applications, go with a 2 1/2-inch pipe insulation.
1 1/4-Inch to 2-inch Pipes
Apartments and smaller commercial buildings may use 1 1/4-inch to 2-inch pipe sizes. For these pipe sizes, hot water up to 200 degrees Fahrenheit are covered with 1-inch insulation. In a low-pressure steam application, 1 1/2-inch thickness is needed. In a medium pressure and a high-pressure steam application, use 2 1/2-inch pipe insulation.
2 1/4-Inch to 4-inch Pipes
Commercial operations commonly use 2 1/4-Inch to 4-inch pipes. For hot water up to 200 F, cover them with 1 1/2-inch insulation. In a low-pressure steam application, 2-inch thickness is used. In medium-pressure applications, use 2 1/2-inch insulation, and when confronted with a high-pressure steam application, 3-inch pipe insulation is required.
5-Inch Pipes and Above
Industrial applications use 5-Inch pipes and above. For hot-water usage up to 200 F, they must be covered with 1 1/2-inch insulation. In a low-pressure steam application, cover them with 2-inch thickness insulation. For medium-pressure applications, a 3-inch insulation thickness is required, and for high-pressure steam applications, use 3 1/2-inch pipe insulation.
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