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portable infrared heater in a semi outdoor area tht looks like a treehouse escape with a scenic view in the background

Infrared Heaters | The Better Heating Solution

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Infrared Heating and Energy Efficiency

When it comes to energy efficiency, infrared heaters stand out. Unlike traditional heaters that heat the air, infrared heaters transfer heat directly to objects and people, similar to how the sun heats the earth. This direct heating method is more energy-efficient, as no energy is wasted on heating the surrounding air. Moreover, infrared heaters:

  • Warm-up instantly, providing immediate comfort.
  • Operate at lower wattages, reducing energy consumption.
  • Have a longer lifespan, decreasing the environmental impact of manufacturing and disposal.
  • Pair well with renewable energy sources like solar panels, further enhancing their green credentials.
  • Models from some ranges (such as Herschel’s) are made from 90%+ recyclable materials.

Understanding the energy-saving benefits of infrared heaters can help in making informed heating decisions. The efficiency of heating is directly related to the cost of running the heaters. Infrared heaters, and their efficiency, are mostly determined by the lamp used and the wavelength (within the infrared range) that is emitted.

Unpacking Infrared Heater Efficiency

The market is rife with an array of claims regarding the effectiveness of infrared heaters. Our aim is to shed light on the functionality of infrared heating and the types it offers, a topic some manufacturers seem to struggle with.

Efficiency of an infrared heater depends on two fundamental factors:

  1. Predominant wavelength of the infrared emitted.
  2. Efficiency of heat projection and reflection.
An image showing where infrared waves are situated in the electromagnetic spectrum. It shows where short, medium, and far infrared wavelengths are situated

Far Infrared or Long-Wave Infrared

– ideal for indoor use:

  • Far infrared emitters are typically resistance wires, often made of a Ferrochromium alloy coiled within a steel tube. Their output, reaching around 300°C, falls into the 'low-intensity' category.
  • Far infrared heaters have a radiant efficiency of about 40%. The remaining 60% of generated energy heats the air, making them susceptible to air movement. While this isn't a concern in confined spaces such as a room, it drastically affects their efficiency outdoors or in vast open spaces.
  • Achieving peak efficiency and temperature can take far infrared heaters anywhere from 5 to 20 minutes. Therefore, pre-heating an area often becomes necessary. they are often used in commercial spaces, with high roofs. Check out some commercial infrared heaters here.
  • Emitting virtually no visible light, far infrared heaters provide an unobtrusive solution, making them a popular choice for outdoor alfresco areas and as painted panels installed inside enclosed spaces.
  • Far wave infrared heaters are the most comfortable and can be used indefinitely. They are the same heat given off by the human body and as such are used in neonatal incubators and health clinics.
  • Gas-fired tube heaters primarily emit Far infrared. They function by circulating hot exhaust gases from combustion inside a steel tube, causing the tube surface to reach temperatures up to 600°C and radiate into the environment. To be effective, these heaters need substantial volumes of gas, attributed to their relatively low radiant efficiency.
  • Check out our range of Herschel indoor infrared heaters! They come in many aesthetic styles, including panels, mirrors, towel racks, custom pictures, and more.

Medium Wave Infrared

– more suited for heating open indoor (and outdoor) areas:

  • The emitter of medium-wave infrared heaters is a metal, commonly a Ferrochromium alloy coiled inside a quartz tube, or a Carbon filament coiled in a quartz tube. The quartz tube enables higher temperatures, reaching approximately 900°C, or 'medium-intensity'.
  • The radiant efficiency of medium-wave infrared heaters is around 60%, meaning 40% of the generated energy is wasted on heating air. Therefore, while they can cover open spaces effectively, their range is limited, leading to potentially high costs when heating larger areas.
  • It takes medium-wave infrared heaters about 30 to 60 seconds to reach their peak efficiency and temperature, so they are typically pre-heated and left on to maintain warmth.
  • They are more intense than far infrared heaters but are still comfortable and can be used for hours in prolonged use.
  • Medium-wave infrared heaters emit a mild warming glow (about 1.5% of their energy is visible light), which is often considered more ambient than Far infrared.

Gas-fired ceramic heaters

Primarily emit Medium-wave infrared. They work by igniting combustion on a ceramic tile surface, which can reach up to 1000°C. This heat radiates into the air and surfaces below, often with deflectors channelling the heat into a specific area. While these heaters offer good spot heating, there is still considerable energy waste due to the direct heating of air.

Near Infrared or Short-Wave Infrared

– the most effective for heating open spaces (outdoor only):

  • Near infrared heaters have a halogen lamp with a tungsten coil sealed in a quartz tube as an emitter. The interaction of the halogen gas and tungsten element allows for the highest temperatures, up to 2200°C or 'high-intensity'.
  • Near infrared heaters have a radiant efficiency of over 92%, wasting only around 8% of the energy on heating air. Hence, they are excellent for open spaces as they primarily heat surfaces and people rather than the air.
  • Near infrared heaters offer instant heat, reaching maximum efficiency within a second of being switched on. Their immediate heating capability makes them ideal for spot heating without the need for pre-heating, even in areas with airflow.
  • Near infrared heaters emit a slightly brighter ambient glow than medium-wave heaters as they are closest to the visible light spectrum. This makes short-wave infrared the most intense, necessitating correct mounting height to evenly distribute the intensity, maximize the heated area, and minimize hot spots.
  • We have a large range of Italian designed and made outdoor infrared heaters. check out our Infrared range here.

Understanding these aspects of infrared heating can assist in discerning the varying claims about their performance in the marketplace. Below is a comparison of infrared heaters compared to a general LPG gas heater. IT IS IMPORTAT TO NOTE that this comparison is for OUTDOOR use only.

a comparison of infrred heater types and a typical lgp patio heater - comparison for outdoor use only

When it comes to selecting a heater, understanding these principles of infrared heating can help decipher the various claims manufacturers make about their products. The choice will ultimately depend on your specific heating requirements, including the size of the space, its purpose, and the desired temperature.

TL;DR - The below table is a quick comparison of the three types of infrared heaters. it is important to note that short-wave infra red heaters are suitable for outdoor use only due to their intensity.


Understanding the Immediate Impact of Infrared Heating

The immediate impact of infrared heating is one of its most notable features. Unlike conventional heaters, which need time to warm up, infrared heaters provide warmth as soon as they are switched on.

They heat objects and people directly, without having to warm the air first. This allows you to feel warm faster and save energy, as the heater doesn't need to run continuously to maintain a comfortable temperature.

Infrared heaters are also great for outdoor or poorly insulated spaces, where they can provide targeted warmth without being affected by air movement or drafts.

Why Infrared Heaters Are Silent and Odorless

Infrared heaters are an excellent choice for those who appreciate a quiet and odour-free heating solution. They work by emitting infrared rays, a silent and odorless process. There are no moving parts, like fans, that could produce noise. This makes them perfect for environments where noise is a concern, such as offices or bedrooms. Additionally, infrared heaters:

  • Don't burn fuel, eliminating the risk of unpleasant smells.
  • Don't stir up dust or circulate allergens, improving air quality.
  • Don't dry out the air, helping to maintain a comfortable humidity level.

Infrared heaters offer a comfortable, silent, and odorless heating solution that's ideal for various environments.

Now you hvae an expert level of knowledge in infrared heaters you can continue reading our ultimate guide to heaters and heating.

For a detailed insight into far and mediaum wavelength range infrared heaters, you can watch this Herschel informatic below.

Author Bio Image

Ryan Wright

Ryan Wright is a chemical engineer and metallurgist with a passion for outdoor living. He has an ongoing love for research and is well experienced in whole animal spits, fire pits, and parrilla grilling.

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