Is infrared heating any good?
Many of us living rurally are restricted to electric heating. Traditionally this has meant large bulky storage heaters, tatty metal wall panels and massive running costs, however over the past ten years infrared heating has come onto the market in the UK and has really taken off, it has been widely used in Europe for many years in public buildings, offices, schools and hospitals as electricity is cheaper, and is also compatible with renewable sources increasing green credentials for a building. So, is infrared heating any good? It works in a very different manner to convection heating and understanding how it works is key. Many customers who buy infrared become hooked because they like the “feel”! The air becomes warm and the room is comfortable but you do not get the dry stuffy air, blown dust or condensation that convection heaters create.
Infrared heaters provide excellent thermal comfort
Infrared energy is the warmth we feel from the sun, the warmth that soaks into our bodies, it also warms objects like stone walls and sandy beaches, these objects stay warm and radiate heat long after the sun has gone down. This principle has been developed working along exactly the same idea, if we can very gently raise the surface temperature of the objects within the room they will then radiate warmth back and keep the air warm for longer.
Creating this warmed thermal mass is key to infrared heating. Upon first using infrared heaters in a building which has been allowed to get really cold and damp, it may take a couple of days to actually warm the walls and floor and to build that thermal mass, but after that a few hours every morning and evening is sufficient. Old cottages which are made of cob and stone were designed to have a fire going which again would have radiated heat to build a warm thermal mass, so an infrared heating panel left on all the time will replicate this. Infrared also works effectively in modern well insulated buildings as they hold that warmth.
Infrared heating produces that all round cosy feeling you might get from having the aga or log burner on all winter. The air temperature might not be particularly hot but people “feel” comfortable because the whole room is radiating warmth, and that warmth lasts.
Infrared heating panels are not suitable for just switching on for half an hour here and there, it will not have chance to create the warmed thermal mass which is what makes infrared home heating so energy efficient. They take time to warm the air, unlike a fan heater which instantly blows hot air although it will not stay hot for very long and is therefore not energy efficient.
Heating that is affordable to run.
Many electric heaters use 2000 or 3000 watts because they warm air and blow it into the room, this is an endless cycle. However, infrared heating works very differently, by only having to heat its own surface and maintain that high surface temperature the panel uses far less energy, heaters range from 300 watts for a small bathroom to 800 watts for a bedroom. However, once the thermal mass of a room is warmed the room feels comfortable.
Heating that is easy to install.
Electric heating is very easy to install either at the time of rewiring or retro fitting. Ideally, to be most energy efficient, each room should have a thermostatic programmer, there are a choice of controllers available from the simple digital read out to wifi enabled smart controls, all to suit your individual needs.
Heaters that are creative in design
Gone are the days of ugly storage heaters. Infrared panels can be positioned on the ceiling to be very discrete, or used as a creative design element of the room, mirrors, large white glass panels and even pictures in a frame or canvas style are all available!
So, is infrared heating any good? Yes, it is brilliant, as long as, like anything, you understand how it works and use it correctly. A heating panel on the wall down behind the sofa will not heat the room, convection heating would be OK but not infrared heating, and similarly, an infrared panel switched on for half an hour whilst you are in the bathroom each morning will just not heat the room, it needs time beforehand to warm the thermal mass then hopefully you will have a dryer bathroom and less condensation and black mould, if you had a mirror infrared heater then this would be mist free, which is brilliant!