How does infrared heating work?

We get a huge amount of interest in our infrared heaters – and one of the most common questions is simply ‘How does infrared heating work?’ Well, in this blog we thought we would try and answer exactly that.

Let’s set the scene using an analogy. Imagine you are standing outside in the middle of winter, but the sun is out. If you point your face to the sun, even though the air temperature is incredibly cold you still feel the warmth from the sun bathing your face. If you then step into the shade you suddenly feel quite how cold it is. Well the reason you feel warm when the sun is hitting you is the power of infrared!

See this video for a great explanation:

Infrared heat is also known as radiant heat and is about the most basic form of heating out there. Traditionally, in the home we use convection heating – this is where the air is warmed by radiators or storage heaters. This hot air can leak through walls, floors and ceilings over the course of time.

Why is radiant heating so efficient?

Infrared doesn’t heat the air – that is the fundamental difference. Instead it heats solid objects – this could be you or me, a piece of furniture, the walls – anything in the room! The infrared emitted by one of our infrared heaters travels until it hits a solid object. This absorbs the infrared and the molecules in the solid object vibrate and warm up, hence the nice warm feeling you get when you are stood in the sun, by a fire or in front of one of our infrared panels. The solid objects then radiate this heat back and keep the environment warm around you.

The sign of a quality infrared heater is its ability to emit infrared (I know that sounds a bit daft but read on!). Infrared heating panels don’t just produce infrared, they also emit some convection heat, but the ratio is approximately 80% infrared and 20% convection – with standard electric convection heaters, this ratio is reversed. The sign of a quality infrared heater is that it is emitting 80% or more infrared.

Popular Infrared panel heaters

Why should I be excited about infrared heating?

There are lots of advantages of infrared over traditional convection heating: the main one being that it is far more efficient. You are heating a surface rather than the air (so surface area versus volume); therefore you need a far lower wattage heater to provide the same thermal comfort. This is the main reason people are interested in infrared – infrared heaters use less electricity to provide the same level of heating in your home so they can be considered far more efficient.

Convection heats the air, and warm air has high relative humidity. Bearing in mind solid objects don’t warm, you are far more liable to condensation. Infrared heats solid objects but the air stays relatively cool, so condensation doesn’t form!

Water absorbs infrared really well – which provides two benefits. The first is that we (humans) are made up of mainly water, so we can absorb the infrared exceptionally well.

The other benefit is treating damp in walls. This water absorbs the infrared even better than a dry wall and as the temperature of the wall warms, the wall dries out. Once dry, the wall will then start emitting the heat back in to the room more effectively. Infrared therefore can dry out your home if you suffer from damp!

One of the main reasons people love our infrared products is their look! Compare a 17mm thick infrared heater (once you take into account the bracket to hold it on the wall or ceiling) with a 200mm storage heater. Couple this with the fact you can get them as mirrors, or even print pictures on them, infrared really is the winner!

If you would like to learn more about replacing storage heaters with infrared, please click here.


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