Infrared Heat: What Is It?
Imagine the heat you feel once you step out into the sun. It is a combination of both ultraviolet and infrared rays. Infrared is what warms us while ultraviolet rays are more damaging to health. While we cannot see infrared light, we can definitely feel it. That’s because it is beyond the spectrum of what the human eye is capable of seeing, sitting at a wavelength of 0.78 microns to 2.5 microns.
How Do Infrared Heaters Work?
Infrared heaters work by converting energy into radiant heat. Infrared radiation travels in a straight direction without being absorbed by the air. It thus means that it heats the object it encounters, which is why infrared heaters are ideal for providing direct heat.
Infrared Heaters: The Pros
I. Instant Heat
Infrared heaters warm the area in front of them almost instantly, with heat delivery occurring in as little as 30 seconds. The air in front is rapidly warmed, as the energy is converted to heat particles immediately.
In contrast, a convection heater takes a short while longer to warm a room. The reason for this is that it uses the cooler surrounding air and heats it over the coil as it rises and then releases it back into the room.
II. Efficient and Quiet
Just like an electric radiator, an infrared heater is silent and provides excellent energy efficiency. This makes it ideal for bedrooms, in particular.
Traditional gas-powered radiators tend to be particularly noisy, with the clicking of the pipes, movement of the water, and sounds of the radiator itself heating up. Similarly, fan heaters tend to be noisy, which makes them less than ideal or areas where quiet is needed. See here for ‘change from gas central heating to electric UK‘.
III. Health Benefits
The health benefits associated with infrared heaters is a contentious point since as you will see, there are also safety issues with them. Still, since there’s no movement of air, infrared heaters can offer health benefits.
With infrared heaters, there’s no change to the humidity levels compared with fan heaters and forced air systems. So, you don’t need to add humidifiers to rebalance the moisture present in the air.
Infrared Heaters: The Cons
Infrared heat travels in a straight direction as previously mentioned. It is great for providing direct, targeted heat. Unfortunately, the heating elements may get extremely hot and the heat is produced very intensely, which is why you should keep the area around an infrared heater free from objects.
Furthermore, this makes infrared heaters a possible hazard especially if you have pets and young children. So, while you might like the idea of infrared heaters, you need to pay attention to where you will be using them and whether they are actually the safest option for you and your family.
II. Possible Health Issues
While the fact that UV rays cause the most damage to health is hardly in doubt, long-term exposure to infrared radiation can be damaging to the skin and eyes too. While this is usually seen with high levels of exposure not associated with home heating, it is something you need to think about.
If you sit too close to an infrared heater, you may experience blotchy skin, which means that damage is occurring at a cellular level. If you overheat, you will also sweat. While this is not an issue with convector heaters that gently heat the air and circulate it, this is a problem with infrared heat. If you overheat and sweat, you may suffer from dehydration and water loss.
III. Isolated Heating
Infrared heaters are great when it comes to providing zonal heat. Unfortunately, this is also one of the drawbacks associated with using infrared heaters. They simply are not ideal for heating large spaces.