Infrared asphalt services are growing in popularity. Contractors have a multitude of equipment options available to them. So how does an asphalt contractor go about selecting the right infrared equipment for his or her business?
“Every contractor should own some form of infrared equipment,” says David Strassman, owner of Asphalt Reheat Systems. An infrared unit allows contractors the ability to make repairs right away without having to schedule a subcontractor to come in and handle the work. “The more you can do in house the more control you have,” Strassman adds. “Infrared equipment has given contractors independence.”
Contractors need to be aware of the different options available. “Every infrared unit is a little bit different,” Strassman says. But there are three general categories of infrared units: portable (walk-behind), trailer mounted and truck mounted.
All three categories of infrared units can be used for pothole repair, joint heating, thermoplastic application and many other applications that require reheating and/or repairing asphalt.
The most prominent heating chamber size is 6’ x 8’ says Ray-Tech President Wes Van Velsor. The 6x8 heating chamber is versatile and can fit most infrared situations. But heating chambers are available in sizes both smaller and larger depending on the type of equipment it is on and the manufacturer because no one infrared unit can fit all situations, Van Velsor adds.
Portable. These units are often used in tight places or for smaller jobs, says Tom Allen, general manager for Kasi Infrared. Contractors can use this type of unit if infrared services are a minor part of their business. It also makes for a good supplementary unit to larger infrared equipment. “Contractors can use these units without tying up their big units for small jobs,” Allen says.
These smaller, mobile units are usually a good solution for parking lot or driveway repairs, says Kurt Schwarz of KM International. They are usually easier to move from repair to repair.
Contractors just starting in the infrared business, or those who have a smaller size area to heat or less volume to patch, may find these portable units can be more economical to transport and a better fit for their initial capital investment, says Bob Kieswetter, president of Heat Design Equipment
Asphalt Reheat Systems’ most popular unit is its portable system. The 4x4 split box unit was always the top seller for the manufacturer, but the newer 4x6 split box unit has grown in popularity. The split box design allows contractors the option to heat either a 2x4 or a 4x4 area with the 4x4 unit or a 2x6 or 4x6 area with the 4x6 unit. These portable units are lightweight and can be operated by one person, Strassman says.
Another unique portable option is the Thermotrack infrared unit. The 6’ x 9’ heating area elements on this unit run on a belt-driven track to move across the heating surface. The unit allows the operator to keep visual contact on the asphalt being heated, says Thermotrack Owner and President Greg Larsen. The non-stationary heating elements also allow the unit to deep heat the asphalt without overheating that creates surface damage, Larsen adds. Thermotrack recently introduced a new model of its infrared unit which features a new direct spark ignition.
Trailer systems. Trailer-mounted infrared units can have a variety of heating chamber sizes depending on the contractor’s needs. These units can also incorporate a hot box to carry asphalt as well. These units are often longer than truck-mounted systems and can be a challenge to back up or position over a repair, Allen says.
The 4-48 trailer-mounted unit is the top seller for KM International, says Cliff Cameron of KM International. The unit offers four zones for a total of 48 square feet of infrared heating.