To hose industry insiders, the term ‘industrial hose’ is a broad term encompassing everything that isn’t metal, Teflon, hydraulic, and composite hose. Others say it’s all hose except for hydraulic hose. For people outside of the hose industry, ‘industrial hose’ seems to refer to any and every hose: a heavy-duty 4-wire hydraulic hose, a large-bore stainless hose; these could easily be referred to as an industrial hose from someone who doesn’t directly deal with hose for industry on a consistent basis.
When someone is in need of industrial hoses, the specific application is generally what drives the title of the type of hose that is requested. They need a brewery hose, a chemical hose, steam hose, or an air hose. Oftentimes, the end-user of hoses isn’t necessarily using the term ‘industrial hose,’ but the specific use the hose was designed for.
For most manufacturers, if you crack open their catalogue, you’ll typically find a remarkably similar layout of their industrial hose offering. Though this can make things easier when comparing manufacturers, we’re still talking about catalogues that are oftentimes four- to five-hundred pages long. There are tons of options.
We’re going to make understanding the options easier to chew.
Air & Multi-Purpose Hose
At the high-pressure end of the spectrum, you’re going to find steel-braided, nitrile hose that will handle pressures up to 1,500 psi air. Keep in mind that this is extremely high for an air hose. These types of hoses will typically be seen at heavy construction sites, mines, quarries, and plants/mills. From there, we work our way into the ‘medium-duty’ hoses. These hoses typically have nitrile tubes and covers for good oil resistance, fabric braid reinforcement and handle pressures between 400-600 psi. In the 200-300 psi range, we have air and multi-purpose hoses for shop air and water, which are offered with EPDM rubber with lesser oil resistance and lower cost, or nitrile and other oil resistant materials.
Another favorite offering in this category is push-on hose. This hose uses a special barbed end that does not require a ferrule or clamp. These types of hose are usually really flexible, even when cold, and can be field repaired with only a knife to cut the end off since no ferrule is required.
When choosing your air or multi-purpose hose, it really comes down to two important questions: do you have a high-, medium-, or low-pressure requirement? And what kind of requirement do you need for oil resistance? As always, it’s important to keep in mind specialty requirements, such as heavy-duty abrasion resistant covers like carboxylated nitrile found on the Bulldog Gold hose. These hoses are going to take a beating, and we’ll make sure they’re able to handle it.
Chemical hoses are rather consistent throughout various manufacturers, and you’re essentially dealing with hose tubes that are UHMW or XLPE. There of course are others like FEP, high-purity EPDM for acid, and Nylon tube paint hoses are often listed in the chemical section too, but they are a specific use, specialty hose. Once you’ve decided which tube option suits your specific application, you’ll need to cover your pressure and temperature requirements. Various chemicals will need a certain tube material to handle the temperature or high-pressure chemical applications; though, high pressure and chemicals aren’t generally associated.
Considering the use for your hose, is it suction and discharge or transfer only, you may need to consider the necessity of a helical wire. So that’s about it for most chemical applications: choose UHMW or XLPE for the tube and then decide if a helical wire is necessary. When you break down chemical hose into the few necessary requirements, it is pretty straight forward.
Food & Beverage
We can break down food and beverage hoses relatively easily. We’re essentially left with the decision of whether our hose is transferring an oil/fatty product or non-fatty food product. There is, of course, dry material transfer, which will have a natural rubber tube; though, with wet food applications we typically see chlorobutyl tubes for non-fatty, and mainly nitrile for oil/fatty substances.
Once you’ve decided the tube material necessary for the product being transferred, we’ll need to make sure the hose cover is suitable to the environment. In the food industry, we’ll obviously see environments where these fatty and oily substances will be coming into contact with the exterior of the hose as well. A nitrile cover will be perfect for these instances. Whereas EPDM covers will handle situations where the environment is not oily.
Like chemical hoses, our next consideration is temperature. With food, we’ll see some remarkably high temperatures mixed with the necessity of steam and CIP (clean-in-place) cleaning. These hoses will need to be able to withstand short bursts of steam for cleaning.
In the beverage market, we see more food-grade PVC and specialty hoses for wineries and breweries, which are typically chlorobutyl. Again, just as food transfer, we need to consider sanitary and cleaning requirements for beverage hoses.
Lastly, as we discussed with both food and beverage, cleanliness is a crucial element in a food processing environment. Washdown hoses are designed to handle pressure for cleaning, sometimes over 1,250 psi.
At this point, we’re beginning to see that, even with so many different applications and specific industries within industrial hose, we’re dealing with a similar formula when calling out the perfect spec for our job.
Liquefied petroleum gas (or propane delivery) hoses tend to be a breed of their own. In this category, it’s important to note the certification requirements. The first is UL21. This indicates Underwriters Laboratories ensures safety, security, quality, and performance expectations of the hose. There’s also CGA Type 1—Canadian Gas Association—which serves as the voice of Canada’s natural gas and delivery industry.
We tend to see LPG hoses for applications such as grills, heaters, tow motors, construction, and residential use. For these applications, hoses are constructed with multiple textile plies of reinforcement for flexibility and kink resistance, and a perforated cover resistant to mild chemicals, oil, and ozone.
When working with natural gas, we’re talking about miniscule molecules that can permeate standard rubber hose construction. As pressure increases, so will the rate of permeation, and the accumulation of natural gas can lead to dangerous consequences, proving the importance of selecting the proper hose construction for your LPG requirements.
Applications for the transfer of dry or abrasive substances, such as sandblasting and concrete or asphalt transfer, require specific hose construction to handle prolonged abrasion during use. Material handling hoses are almost always made of natural rubber or SBR (styrene butadiene rubber). We’re no longer dealing with oil and oil resistance; instead, our most important consideration is now abrasion and choosing a thick tube to handle it. Secondly, our assembly construction will tend to differ with the type of substances transferred in material handling applications. Because of the highly abrasive materials, these assemblies should have a smooth transition between the tube of the hose and its end, which is why we usually internally expand ends on material handling assemblies. Otherwise, the abrasive material will eat away at the hose end until there is no hose barb left.
Hot Air Blower hose is a specialty hose in the material handling category. Hot air reacts with hose materials much differently than ambient air. These hoses not only handle the higher temperatures of air, but they will also handle them consistently. Hot air can wreak havoc on standard hose materials.
Nine times out of ten, petroleum transport hoses will have a nitrile tube and cover. Nitrile handles petroleum better than any of its counterparts, and, as you can imagine, where there’s petroleum being transferred, chances are there’s going to be petroleum encountering the outside of the hose as well. As with any application, you’re left with determining size, pressure, and temperature ratings of your application.
Now, another consideration—depending on the system you’re working with—is the bend radius requirement of your assembly. If you find yourself needing more flexibility, corrugated covers increase ease of bending because of the shape of the cover. The material of the assembly will stay the same regardless.
PVC (polyvinyl chloride) hoses see an awful lot of uses. Applications such as potable water, beverage dispensing, chemical dispensing, multipurpose air, and water, and many, many more. PVC is in a category all its own that reaches into a lot of the categories discussed prior, so what we see is a category not defined by its use, but rather its material.
A popular type of PVC hose is layflat hose. The hose can ‘lay flat’ because it has no helical wire and is only used in discharge or positive pressure applications. These are easy to roll up and transport and found in agriculture, construction, industry, and mining.
Steam hose, to an extent, runs the gamut when it comes to construction: there’s EPDM, nitrile in instances where oil resistance is needed, and chlorobutyl in more premium varieties, like when you need a hose that is going to stand the test of time. Most of these will handle temperatures north of 406°F for saturated steam and 450°F for superheated steam, with pressures up to 250 psi. on average.
Due to the dangerous nature of steam at higher temperatures and pressures, this is one of the few hose applications where we see a safety factor of 10:1 vs the standard 4:1. Steam can be incredibly dangerous. Depending on the type, temperature, and saturation, steam isn’t always visible, so an increased safety factor is prudent.
This may seem like a rather straightforward category of industrial hose. To an extent, it can be. Water hose is generally made from one of three materials: EPDM or SBR for suction and PVC for discharge. For the most part, EPDM is the most common tube for water hose, especially when the hose is being used as a transfer hose. If your application is suction, your hose will require a helical wire to prevent the hose from collapsing.
Through experience—and, yes, failure—we’ve learned that you need to be extra careful when it comes to temperature ratings of water hoses. If you have an application where the temperature is anywhere near the upper limit of your hose (for example: a hose rated up to 180°F, and your application reaches 170°F), you want to move to a hose designed to handle a higher temperature.
Welding hoses are possibly the easiest to visually identify. You have green hose for oxygen, and a red hose for burning gas. The hose commonly comes as twin-line; however, you can buy these lines individually. Welding hoses are rated to either Grade-T, which has greater oil resistance (in a steel mill or a shop), or Grade-R, which will have reduced resistances to oil.
Needless to say—though, we’ll say it anyway—when dealing with something that can be as dangerous as burning hose, it’s important to know your application and the environment in which these hoses are being used to ensure safety. When it comes down to it, choosing a welding hose isn’t much more complicated than deciding whether you need Grade-T or Grade-R. We carry Grade-T for most calls.
Hopefully, this overview of industrial hose helped ease some confusion on the seemingly limitless options out there. Remember that most hoses are called out by their application: Steam hose, cement hose, brewery hose etc. If your application is a little less straightforward think of it in terms of construction.
- What tube material will handle the media and temperature?
- What reinforcement is required? Steel braid, textile spiral, helical wire for suction?
- What cover will protect the reinforcement and handle the environmental conditions best?
Once you answer these three questions you will be well on your way. After that, you can always call The Hose Pros at TCH and we’ll think through it with you.
Our focus and obsession is the distribution and fabrication of hose for industry and hose related products. Founded nearly 40 years ago, we are proudly owned and operated by the same family. Our manufacturing partners are some of the biggest and best names: Eaton, Parker, Dixon Valve, Hose Master, Brennen, Hannay Reels, and many others.
In short, we are a customer-centric hose company filled with happy professionals who can help you meet all your hose related needs. If you have any questions, please reach out to us by filling out the form below!