It goes without saying that without steam there could be no steam bath. But how is the steam created? What generates it, and what is required for efficient production of steam? This article will examine steam generators and everything required to make steam.
Steam generators for residential use are electrical units that can be installed nearly anywhere. They do not have to be close to the steam bath, and can be situated up to 40 feet away. Their basic requirements are a water supply and an electrical connection. Some models also require a drain.
Steam Generator Components
The steam generator consists of a tank for holding water, a connection for incoming water, and an outlet for the steam. An electrical element at the bottom of the water tank heats the water, and the size and the electrical rating of this element is a factor in determining how much steam the unit can produce.
The water tank needs to be airtight in order to allow steam pressure to build up. Steam pressure is a formidable force that is strong enough to power locomotives! In order to withstand the pressure of the steam buildup, the water tank needs to be very strong. Welded steel is the most common material for water tanks.
As a safety precaution, the water tank needs to have a pressure release valve in case the steam pressure becomes too high. The safety valve is an absolute necessity. Exploding tanks can cause a great deal of damage and even death.
The incoming water supply can be either hot or cold. Feeding hot water into the steam generator allows the steam to build up more quickly, but many generators use a cold water feed and still provide steam in a reasonable amount of time.
To control the amount of the water in the tank, a water level probe is connected to a valve which turns the water on or off automatically. The valve is powered with electricity and uses a solenoid to control water flow.
Before the water passes through the solenoid valve, it first passes through a master shutoff valve. It is a simple mechanical valve and can be used to cut off the water supply to the steam generator when it needs to be serviced.
As the steam builds up, it passes through the outtake pipe that is connected to the steam shower
. The steam passes through the steam heads which are controlled by either an on/off switch or a timer. The on/off switch causes the steam head to protrude from the wall of the steam bath and lets the steam out. Optional timers can be used to limit the amount of time that steam is generated and to turn off the steam generator automatically.
Despite the relative simplicity of the steam generator, it is important to have it professionally installed. If steam pressure unexpectedly builds up and cannot be released through a properly connected release valve, a dangerous situation can result. A licensed plumber can do the work properly and guarantee a safe steam bath.