Infrared heating comes in different forms for different situations, some only warm people whereas others warm the air too. It is important to choose the right type of heater for your situation.
Outdoor infrared heaters. Many people have experienced infrared heating in the form of the orange glow heaters outside the cafe or pub, these give off infrared wavelengths from the end of the spectrum closest to red light, remember infrared is invisible light beyond the light spectrum, this form of infrared warms people directly and is fantastic in an outdoors situation because it has no effect on the air, all energy is used to heat people. It is also great for churches and industrial units where the air is never going to get warm and it would be wasteful of energy to even try! These heaters give an instant and very powerful feeling of warmth, great for a quick warm up, however they are not suitable for sitting under all day long as the feeling on the body is just too intense. The ceramic plate of these heaters reaches around 700 degrees C to be able to give off the optimum wavelength of near infrared.
High output infrared heaters are slightly different, the wavelength is further away from red light so there is no light glare, they look the same whether switched on or off, the surface temperature is around 300 degrees C to give off a powerful yet more comfortable feeling of infrared which warms people and objects. These heaters are great in places where it is possible to heat the air, but they are not very well insulated to retain the warmed air, powerful warmth is still needed on the people to compensate for the fact the room loses warmth quickly. These heaters take a few minutes to warm up, the feeling of warmth on the body is really nice, powerful to cut through chilly air, but comfortable enough to sit under all day long, they do warm objects around the room which makes the surroundings less cold and more bearable. Ideal for the office in an industrial unit, a workshop or garage, an old building with really high ceilings and original single glazed windows. These heaters are available in 1000 watts up to 3600 watts, the higher wattage is suitable for ceilings up to 5 meters high.
Infrared heating panels have a lower surface temperature, around 90 degrees C -which is still hot to the touch, the feeling of warmth is very gentle, in fact it may take you a minute to register the heater is on! However, this very gentle infrared wavelength warms people and objects comfortably, you do not notice where the heat is coming from in the room, but that the whole room feels nice and cosy. Infrared energy is absorbed by every object, walls, floor, furnishings, all increase in surface temperature, just very slightly, but sufficient to make the whole room feel warm around you, as the air passes around it absorbs warmth from these objects, making the whole room an even temperature. No hot point, no hot air rising with a hot ceiling area and cold floor, no circulation or draw of cold air across the floor or blow of hot air from the radiator. When the heating is on for a few hours, just like central heating, it warms the air too, so you can set a room thermostat and controls for the heating to come on and off as you wish. Many customers say they are happy with the thermostat set to 19 degrees because the surfaces around them are warm and therefore the room feels cosy. When we are surrounded by cold surfaces we feel cold, we shiver and give off body heat, but when our surroundings are warm we equalise ourselves and feel comfortable.
Radiant panels which do not specify a surface temperature or wavelength of infrared may combine infrared with convection of warmed air. Running at around 40 degrees C is much safer to the touch if the heater must be wall mounted low down like a traditional radiator. However, the ability to increase surface temperatures is reduced and the feeling of infrared on the body is minimal, but they are very effective and much cheaper to run than an old style electric heater!