They work best for open spaces and in situations where you want to feel the heat fast, like bathrooms, garages, basements, hobby rooms and workshops, but they are also becoming more popular for regular indoor use and even as a primary heating system.
Keep in mind that every type of heating feels different and not everyone is a fan of infrared heating. Since infrared heating is a part of the electromagnetic spectrum, people describe infrared heat feels like the winter sun on your body, or standing in front of an open fire. Some even compare it to standing next to a toaster. Well, the toaster part might be a bit exaggerated, but you get the picture.
Manufacturers claim that infrared heating is 100% safe and actually natural to our bodies as we're designed to accept and emit infrared heat. Sounds logical if you think we've used fire as a heating source throughout the centuries.
There are also indications that infrared saunas provide health benefits. Small infrared lamps have long been used in physical therapy to relax muscles, and infrared saunas are supposed to be healthier than traditional Finnish saunas. Therefore, from a health point of view, adding an infrared heater to your heating system might be a sensible decision.
Are halogen heaters the same as infrared or quartz?
They are all infrared heaters, they convert electrical energy into radiant heat and they all give off zero emissions. They do, however, use different heating elements to achieve the same goal.
- Halogen heaters generate heat with halogen tubes filled with halogen gas which heats up the tube fast, which then starts to glow and radiate heat into the surrounding space. Very much like the old-fashioned lightbulbs.
- Infrared heaters operate the same way as quartz heaters with a heating element enclosed in a tube, but sometimes use more modern materials like carbon resistance wire.
- Quartz heaters generate heat with a heating element (resistance wire) enclosed in a quartz tube which protects the heating elements and stops the heat from escaping.
How does infrared heating work?
In 1800, William Herschel proved that light and infrared are the same quantity, later to be defined as electromagnetic radiation. He called this invisible light warmth at a distance “radiant heat”, and was the first to name the invisible light as infrared, which means the light is below the red light (infra meaning below in Latin). It wasn't until 1880 that the term infrared was widely used by the scientific community.
Infrared light, also known as short-wave infrared or near infrared, is closest to the red light in the spectrum and can carry heat.
Infrared heaters work by radiation, which means the heat is transmitted through electromagnetic, infrared waves. These waves get intercepted by the surfaces of objects which in turn absorb heat and become warmer. The warmer the objects become, the more heat they emit to their surroundings.
The heat of the infrared heater has the advantage that it does not heat the air around us, but warms our bodies. Because it heats by radiation, it's the closest to natural heating with sun rays.
The main part of an infrared heater is a heating element (different in halogen, infrared and quartz heaters) and a reflector. The heating element converts electricity into heat, and the reflector helps to direct the thermal energy to heat people and objects.
Infrared heater efficiency
Like other electric space heaters, infrared heaters are also very energy efficient, but they do convert some energy into light instead of heat, making them slightly less efficient than an oil radiator or a convector heater. Because of this energy loss, infrared heaters are considered to be over 90% energy efficient.
But it's the infrared waves that make them more efficient in certain environments. In winter gardens, patios and open spaces in general, a classic oil-filled radiator or a convector simply wouldn't stand a chance because they would try to heat the cold air around them. And because it's an open space with a virtually unlimited amount of cold air, an oil radiator or a convector can't produce enough hot air to make people and objects warm.
Infrared heaters, on the other hand don't warm the air, but instead directly warm people and objects, thus making them extremely efficient.
As with any other heating system, if a house is poorly insulated and too much heat escapes through the doors, windows, walls and roof, heating becomes less efficient. Still, in poorly insulated or drafty spaces, an infrared heater would work better than a fan heater, oil radiator or a convector heater.
The air quality in the room is reduced during the heating season, heating has a drying effect, and healthy humidity levels are reduced. As a result, during heating, a lot of dust is raised from the floor. With infrared heating systems, when used indoors, the air in the room remains untouched, so there is less dust in the air. The humidity level also remains at a comfortable level and these factors should be taken into account by anyone suffering from allergies or asthma.
Noticed a mistake in the article or have a suggestion? Let us know.