Why is radiant infrared heating so efficient?

Thermograph showing the radiant effect of Infrared heating

Why is radiant infrared heating so efficient?

We get asked a lot why is our infrared heating so efficient so in this week’s blog we thought we would have a crack at answering exactly that question.

Many of the reasons infrared heating is so efficient come from the fact it is radiant heating compared to convection heating.

Radiant heating versus Convection heating

So what is the difference between these two forms of heating? Per degree centigrade output, Infrared has a higher rate of heat transfer than convection heating. Infrared (which is radiant heating) also primarily heats solid objects directly rather than convection heating which heats the air: so you are concerned primarily with heating surface area as opposed to the entire volume of air. You can also “zone” or target infrared to heat just one area in a room, which is impossible with heaters that primarily heat air, which have to heat the whole volume in a space. Infrared is also easier to control.

Infrared therefore requires a lower installation wattage and runs less than convection-based heaters.  As a rule of thumb, we normally recommend a 600w infrared heater as equivalent to a 1.5kW convection heater. Obviously this is therefore far cheaper to run if you compare infrared panel heaters with equivalent electric convection panel heaters.

This video explains things well:


Bearing in mind the price of gas is 4p / kWh and electricity is 13p / kWh, comparing infrared with gas powered convection heating (i.e. a wet central heating system with radiators), the numbers are far more even. You can read more about how Infrared stacks up against convection heating by clicking here.

Another key benefit of radiant heating (i.e. the heat produced from our infrared heating range) is that since you are heating solid objects, when you turn off the heat source, it takes far longer for the room to cool down. Imagine the infrared heater is opposite a wall – the wall will absorb the infrared and warm up. This wall, especially if it is well insulated will then slowly release this heat back into the room. If you have a radiator trying to heat the equivalent space, the room will certainly warm up – but the reason an occupant would feel warm upon entering that room is the air is warm. If the door to the room is opened for example, the warm air will quickly escape and the room will feel cold again – requiring the heating to be turned on again.

As a result, less energy is required to top up the heating if you are using infrared heating – which obviously means lower energy bills.

Another benefit of infrared heating is that the thermostat can be set far lower (compared to a room heated by convection) because the walls and objects in a room get warm (including you if you are standing in front of it!). In some cases you can set the room as much as 3 degrees lower but still feel no real difference in warmth. This means the infrared heater can switch off much quicker allowing you again to benefit from lower bills.

Popular Infrared panel heaters

New infrared heaters versus older infrared heaters

So the reasons above all compared radiant heating directly with convection heating, but there is another reason our selection of infrared heating systems are so efficient. Where as the old style infrared heaters relied on thick solid bars of resistance metal to get very hot (they glowed orange) to emit infrared, our new style heaters have far thinner wires densely distributed over the whole of the area of the panel, which means they can operate at far lower density than the old style infrared heaters.

So there you have it – just a few of the reasons why infrared radiant heating is so good! All our Herschel infrared heaters come with a minimum 5 year warranty (our Inspire range carry a 10 year warranty) so you can be sure when you buy through Infrared4Homes you are buying the best quality infrared heating solutions out there.

Infrared Heating vs. a Gas Central Heating System

Electricity costs 13p / unit (measured in kWh), gas meanwhile is just 4p / unit. Therefore it is very easy to look at these numbers and completely discount infrared as an ‘expensive’ electric heating solution, but actually there are far more things to consider which unfortunately make this anything but a simple comparison!

Firstly, with a gas central heating system, you need the whole gas boiler to fire up even if you want to heat just one room. With electric heating and infrared in particular, you can very easily specify which rooms you want to heat and then only fire up the panels in those rooms. Even if you have thermostatic valves on radiators the boiler will still need to fire up to provide the hot water for that radiator – this is not as efficient as heating a single room.

Infrared heating is reactive!

The next thing to consider is how reactive the heating system is. With any type of convection heating (i.e. radiators or storage heaters) they need to heat the air before you feel any warming effect – i.e. the reason you feel warm is because the air in the room you are in is warm. Infrared heats solid objects so as soon as the infrared heaters are up to temperature (normally just a couple of minutes) they emit the infrared and you will feel the warmth. This means that you don’t need to preheat rooms before you go into them. So in a bathroom for example, our infrared heaters would be turned on when you go in – you take your shower, then when you get out of the shower you feel the warmth of the infrared. Our mirror panels also don’t fog up so another problem solved!

What this means though is that you have a heating system that can react far quicker to your specific heating requirements which is obviously more efficient.

Thermostats are a must!

The next thing to look at is comfortable room temperature – for most people with gas central heating systems they would normally set their thermostat between 19-20 because that is the temperature the air needs to reach for the occupant to feel comfortable. With infrared, since the heaters heat solid objects (including the occupants) directly, the temperature of the air is achieved from this rather than from directly heating the air. What it means is that a thermostat could be set slightly lower and the occupants will still feel a nice level of warmth, therefore there are energy savings here.

Infrared heating is Cheaper to Install!

The last point and again this is true of all electrical heating systems, you don’t need any pipework to be run in the home to link the system together. This makes installing infrared far cheaper than a wet central heating system. Furthermore since the infrared panels are a very simple technology without any moving parts, they require no maintenance compared to boiler, which if you are renting it out to tenants requires a yearly gas inspection at the very least.

So yes, on the face of it – gas is cheaper than electricity, so that suggests infrared doesn’t stack up – but hopefully the points discussed above show you that it is a far more even contest than it initially looks.

All our infrared heating panels come with a minimum 5 year warranty and our German made Inspire range come with a 10 year warranty.

If you would like any more information on our infrared heating range, please don’t hesitate to call us on 0208 133 3849.