Pros and Cons of Infrared Heaters
If you’re considering looking to supplement the heating in your home then there are several electric heating options available to you. These include electric radiators, fan heaters and infrared heaters. In this article, we’ll look at the pros and cons of infrared heaters. How they can be useful, and why they’re not always the best option.
What is infrared heat?
But first, what exactly is infrared heat? Well, imagine the heat you feel when you step out into the sun. That’s a combination of infrared and ultraviolet rays. The infrared warms us, while the UV is more damaging to health. We can feel it, but we can’t actually see infrared light. This is because it’s beyond the spectrum of what we can see, sitting at a wavelength of between 0.78 and 2.5 micrometres (or microns). Infrared heaters work by converting energy into radiant heat. Infrared radiation travels in a straight direction and isn’t absorbed by the air. This means it heats objects it meets, and infrared heaters are therefore excellent for providing direct heat.
The pros of infrared heaters
Infrared heaters warm the area in front of them practically instantly, with heat being delivered within as little as 30 seconds. The air in front is warmed rapidly, as the energy is immediately converted to heat particles. In contrast, convection heaters will take a short while longer to warm a room. This is because they use the cooler surrounding air, heating it over coils as it rises, and releasing it back into the room.
Quiet and efficient
Just like electric radiators, infrared heaters are silent and provide excellent energy efficiency. This makes them ideal, in particular, for bedrooms. Traditional gas-fired radiators can be particularly noisy, with the movement of water, clicking of the pipes and the sounds of the radiator itself heating up. Likewise, fan heaters can be noisy, so they’re also not ideal for bedrooms or areas where you need peace and quiet.
This is a contentious point because as you’ll see, there are safety issues with infrared heaters. However, because there’s no movement of air, infrared heaters can be beneficial to your health. There’s no change to humidity levels, compared with forced air systems and fan heaters. So no need to add humidifiers, to rebalance moisture in the air.
Good for zonal heating
If you’re looking to boost your heating in specific areas of your home, then both infrared heaters and electric radiators are excellent options. However, you need to bear in mind the safety issues with infrared heaters, and ensure the area to be heated is clear of obstacles in front of the infrared panels.
As there’s no combustion required, infrared and electric heaters and electric radiators are extremely environmentally friendly. Indeed, given the drive toward renewable energy, we predict that the use of all types of electric heating solutions will increase exponentially over the coming years.
The cons of infrared heaters
As we’ve already mentioned, infrared heat travels in straight directions. It’s excellent for providing direct, targeted heat. However, the heating elements can get extremely hot and the heat produced is very intensely. So it’s important to keep the area around an infrared heater free from objects. Also, this makes them a potential hazard if you have young children and pets. So while you might like the idea of infrared heaters, think about where you need to use them, and whether they’re the safest solution for your home and family.
Potential health issues
While it’s true that UV rays are the most damaging to your health, long-term exposure to infrared radiation can also be damaging to your eyes and skin. Although this is typically seen with high levels of exposure not associated with home heating, it’s still something to consider. Indeed, if you sit too close to an infrared heater, you can experience blotchy skin, so there is damage occurring at a cellular level. Also, if you overheat, you sweat. While this isn’t an issue with convector heaters that gently heat and circulate the air, it is a problem with infrared heat. If you overheat and sweat, this can lead to water loss and dehydration.
Yes, infrared heaters are excellent for providing zonal heat. However, this is also one of the cons of using infrared heaters. They’re not good for heating large spaces. They provide direct heat, heating surrounding objects rather than the air in-between, and you need to be close by to feel the benefits. In contrast, convection heaters such as electric radiators actually heat and circulate the air. This warms living spaces and makes it easier to maintain desired ambient temperatures.
No thermostat control
Even the best-infrared heaters lack the functionality of other electric heating options. They can’t be controlled by a thermostat or smart controls, as these work by monitoring air temperature. So it’s impossible to programme them into a central heating system and control your home heating. They’re very much a ‘switch on when you need them’ option.
Instant loss of heat
Once an infrared heater is switched off, it will stop radiating heat. As the air around the unit won’t have been heated up, you’ll lose heat practically instantly. In contrast, convection heaters and oil-filled heaters will continue to radiate heat even after they’re switched off.
Not cost effective
There are two issues to look at here: cost price and running costs. While infrared heaters can be picked up for a decent price, if you’re looking to heat a larger space then you’ll need a number of heaters. This means a higher cost of purchasing. Also, in terms of running costs, infrared heaters do run on low wattage. But given the lack of functionality and the possibility that multiple units will be required, any savings on electricity are negligible compared with other electric heating solutions.
If you’re lucky, you could find a model with a 5-year warranty. However, the typical warranty for infrared heaters is 1-2 years. So while the price might look great, you’ve got to consider the fact that you may need to regularly replace an infrared heater. In comparison, high-quality electric radiators such as the Economiser come with warranties of up to 30 years, giving you greater peace of mind.
We hope these points have helped you consider whether infrared heaters are the best option for your home or office. We think you’ll agree that while they can provide a great solution if you need short-term targeted heat in an uncluttered area, there are disadvantages to this type of heating. Think carefully about where and how you need the additional heat, and whether convection heaters would actually be a better option for you.
If you’re looking to switch to electric heating, then here at Electric Heating Expert we have some excellent options for you, including German-built premium electric radiators, electric panel heaters and electric towel rails. Our electric heating solutions can be used to supplement the heating within your home or as your primary heating system. Future proof your home heating today by calling us on 01252 560770, or email us at email@example.com.