Infrared Heating for your Home
Credit: Jade on CC 2.0

As the temperature begins to drop and the nights get longer you realize that - “Winter is Coming” a motto popularized by the television series Game of Thrones. While the meaning in the series is of warning and constant vigilance, it also has literal relevance in that one strives to always be prepared for the coming winter, when the lands become frozen.[1]

When it comes to heating your home in winter there are many ways to go about it. You may already own a gas heater, electric/oil heater, fan heater, underfloor heating or have central heating installed. Yet do you know the running costs and energy efficiencies of these space heaters? Infrared heating products are clean, healthy, UV free and energy efficient – there is simply no other instant, economical and environmentally friendly way to go.

Infrared HeaterCredit: The Heat Is On! on Flickr via CC 2.0

Photo credit: The Heat Is On! on Flickr via CC 2.0

What Is Infrared Heating?

Unlike traditional heating strategies which use a combination of conduction and convection to warm your home, infrared heating uses radiation. Electromagnetic waves directly transport energy to you just like sunlight does to warm your face. The great thing about radiation is that it does not lose any energy when traveling, even great distances as in the case with our sun, so the efficiencies are much higher than conventional space heating strategies.

Infrared heat is invisible light loaded with energy, in the wave length of 9 – 14μm. When the light hits an object, heat is created. Infrared light is a type of radiation that is invisible to the human eye. It lies beyond the ‘red’ end of visible light spectrum where the wavelengths are longer. The term ‘infra’ means further on, therefore the name infra-red (abbreviated to IR) describes accurately the wavelength beyond red light.[2]

Light SpectrumCredit: Humanly Visible Spectrum on Flickr via CC 2.0

Photo credit: Humanly Visible Spectrum on Flickr via CC 2.0

Convection Heating Versus Infrared Heating

When comparing the two types of heating, convection heating warms the room by heating the air which then warms you whereas infrared heating does not warm the air but directly heats the objects in front of it. To illustrate the reduced heating costs, infrared heats square meters instead of cubic meters! Infrared heating acts directly and does not need air currents to carry the heat towards you. Infrared heating provides an even distribution of direct heat that is easily maintained unlike traditional heating where the hot air accumulates in the buildings ceiling and slowly escapes into the outside air.

The Benefits Of Infrared Heating

  • It is very energy efficient because no energy is wasted by heating up the air itself. Warm air always rises to the highest point of the building where it can escapes through roof insulation. With infrared heaters only the objects placed in front of the heater are warmed up.
  • Infrared is immediate, providing instant heat within a second the moment you switch on. Compare this with the speed at which an air-con or oil heater heats up. There is no need to wait for the room to warm up.
  • With infrared heating you are able to focus and direct the area which you wish to heat.
  • Save in electricity by switching it on when needed just like the instant effect of a light bulb. The aforementioned benefits combined account for an energy saving of up to 50% versus most common heating systems. The actual savings are dependent on the buildings insulation, ceiling height and construction design.
  • Unlike conventional space heating methods, where the heater is ‘fully on’ or ‘fully off’, infrared heating technology is dimmable allowing you to control exactly the amount of heat needed from 0 – 100% of the power. This benefit allows one adjust the electricity usage directly.
  • Infrared heaters are low maintenance as there are no moving parts to wear. No servicing is required only annual cleaning.
  • Infrared heating does not dry out the air like other conventional space heaters. It is clean and safe heating, there is no open flame, gas fumes or drying out of the air as found in LPG heaters.
  • Lastly, this benefit is not even remotely possible with conventional convection heating. Infrared heaters can be used easily in open spaces such as outdoor patios, garden entertaining area, large building spaces, restaurants or bars.[2]

Health Benefits Of Infrared Heating

Infrared heating has superior health benefits over traditional convection heating for the human body. Convection heaters generate heat that warms the air and your body however infrared heats directly and evenly improving blood flow. Infrared heat helps to relieve pain, gently heals, soothes, stimulates and detoxes the body. This is why sitting in the sun feels great just like sitting in front of an infrared heater except the heater is UV free.

IR heaters are especially beneficial to people with health conditions such as asthma or other respiratory disorders. The unique way in which the room is heated without creating air currents that increase dust circulation is valuable. Furthermore the air is not dried out like convection heating systems and the humidity is maintained.

Infrared Heaters For The Home

There are a large number of manufacturers of infrared heaters and the products vary in type and size. To estimate the size of the infrared heater required, you should consider the area of your home that you wish to heat. As a rule of thumb, about 75W – 100W is needed per m2. So a typical sized heater that you can find on Amazon, is 1500W which would heat an area of 15 to 20 m2. Bear in mind that Infrared heaters focus their heat on an area so the heater needs to be placed in the location that you wish to warm.

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The most common infrared heaters are the Quartz Heat Lamps. These lamps use quartz glass tubes that have an enclosed filament that operates at around 2500K, producing short wave length radiation in the region of 1.5 - 8μm. Quartz Heat Lamps use highly polished reflectors to direct radiation into a uniform and concentrated pattern.

Another infrared heater design is the Ceramic Infrared Heater. The space heater emits a longer wave of infrared radiation, 2 – 10μm. They are normally constructed by having a resistance heating conductor that is completely encapsulated in a ceramic material. Ceramic Infrared Heaters are generally designed as panels.