Infrared information – How does infrared heating work?
Multiheat have been specialist suppliers of infrared heating products since 2007, we supply infrared heaters from leading British and European Manufacturers, companies who have been at the forefront of this technology for 20 to 40 years! Infrared heating has been popular in Europe for many years because it is a more energy efficient way of heating air and people. It has only been in the past few years that the British public have started to become more aware of their own energy use. We hope this infrared information will help you make an informed choice. Visit our shop.
- When was infrared discovered?
- What is the technology behind the surface?
- How does infrared work?
- Natural infrared in nature.
- The health benefits of infrared heating.
- Creating a comfortable working environment.
When was infrared discovered? Visit our shop
Infrared radiation was discovered as long ago as 1800, when an English astronomer discovered the existence of infrared energy beyond the red end of the visible light spectrum. He found that when sunlight was passed through a glass prism it formed a spectrum, if a thermometer was then moved along the spectrum of colours the heating effect could be monitored, moving the thermometer beyond the red end of the spectrum where no light was visible the heating effect increased. This new region of the electromagnetic spectrum was called the infrared.
Near infrared is now commonly used in patio heaters that give off an orange light glow, they provide powerful warmth to people but do not heat the air. Far infrared has no visible colour or light and provides a more gentle feeling of warmth on the body and will also heat the air. The most efficient spectrum for heating people is 6 to 10 microns as this is similar to the range of infrared emitted by the human body, our panels produce output from this optimum spectrum range. However, high output heaters provide a more powerful feeling of infrared from a slightly different range in order to transfer heat a longer distance and through colder air.
What is the technology behind the surface?
Infrared heating panels have been available in Europe for a number of years, the technology has been developed using quality components for better efficiency and a long lifespan.
Very basically, the panel is like a sandwich. The front surface is made from a durable and wipeable material that will emit heat well, glass is not the best option but is very attractive. Behind this is a fine cloth which becomes very hot, carbon is crushed to form a very fine powder and then impregnated into cloth, often called carbon crystal or carbon fibre, heating elements run throughout this cloth to provide an even heat coverage. The surface must reach over 80 degrees to give off infrared in the optimum range. Behind this is a layer of insulation to prevent any infrared energy coming from the back of the heater and being wasted, although there will be some convection of warmth from the back of the panel due to the hot temperature, just like any other electrical appliance there must be some ventilation to prevent overheating, the mounting brackets allow for this air gap. A metal backing plate strengthens the appliance and again ensures any heat can only come from the front of the panel.
How does infrared work?
Wavelengths found in both the near and far infrared range of the spectrum will create the energy required for atoms within an object to start vibrating, this process can only take place when the energy presented is of the correct form. Vibrating atoms in an object will cause it to heat up, their vibration energy can be transferred between atoms in the object and the surrounding atmosphere. An atom absorbing infrared energy will convert it into an increase in its own vibration and therefore an increase in heat, this heat usually can be readily taken over by other atoms. At the other end of the spectrum wavelengths from the ultraviolet or X-ray areas create little or no heat.
Infrared heats people and objects directly without the need to heat up the air in between unlike convection heaters that primarily work on heating the circulating air. Infrared rays warm the skin, the heat is then passed by the blood circulation around the body. People will feel an even comfortable warmth whilst the surrounding air may be cooler. The infrared rays are also warming the walls and objects within the room too, maintaining a warm room is key to energy efficiency so working in conjunction with good insulation our panels can be left on a low thermostat throughout the day to create a warm and comfortable environment.
The panel itself becomes very hot to give off infrared energy, it does not have any switches or controls, you can not regulate the surface temperature because then it would not be giving off infrared only convection of warmth. So a thermostatic programmer must be installed this can control one heater or a number of heaters altogether, having a thermostatic programmer in each room is more energy efficient because then the times and temperatures for each room can be set as to how often the room is used. The thermostat will turn the panel on and off as needed. You do not need a programmer specific to infrared heating, there are lots of central heating controls available on the market which will also control your heaters from simple timers, to wired in thermostats or even wifi enabled smart controls if you wish
Natural infrared in nature.
Infrared heating works in two ways – it warms objects, these radiate warmth back making us feel comfortable and cosy and by warming people directly.
Natural infrared from the sun warms the sand on the beach which radiates heat back to warm the air. Sand, stone and tarmac are all very good at radiating warmth back. Plants and leaves are not, this is why walking in an open field or under the trees always feels cooler and fresher on a hot day.
The suns infrared rays provide healthy warmth on the skin irrelevant of the outside temperature, you may even be enjoying the sunshine whilst in the snow on a skiing holiday but feel really warm in the sunshine. When we stand in the sun we feel the rays on our body and we feel hot, but when we stand under a sun umbrella we instantly feel cooler, the air has not changed but we are not feeling those rays anymore!
The health benefits of infrared heating.
Direct infrared energy promotes blood circulation, yoga and therapy studios like infrared heating because it not only helps clients feel comfortably warm but it also encourages blood movement to repair tissue. Infrared heating is often used in saunas and therapy lamps, and is also used in the red lamps to keep baby animals warm, it has no harmful effects.
Infrared heating does not cause air currents or movement of dust which can cause problems for people with asthma or bronchial ailments. Still and dust free air is far more pleasant for users of contact lenses and people suffering with rheumatic pain will find the homogenous humidity may reduce their pains. Air that is humidity stable and dust free combined with the silent operation of these heaters will all work together to provide a generally better working or living atmosphere.
By warming the objects around us we feel more comfortable, however, this also has a benefit to the building too, as cold walls tend to accumulate condensation when subjected to hot air heating, this over time creates black mould and an unhealthy environment, it does not feel comfortable sitting next to damp cold walls. By regularly heating the walls we help reduce the damp and condensation from happening.
People like the feeling of infrared warmth, they tell us the room feels so much nicer, the air is not as hot or stuffy, it just feels different!
When people are surrounded by cold objects they feel cold, people emit infrared to their surroundings and lose body heat, so even if the air is warmed we still feel the chill from cold objects, air is poor at transferring it heat. With infrared heating we are surrounded by warm objects ( only very slightly warmed, you would hardly notice the difference) so we absorb heat from our surroundings making us feel more comfortable, this is much better for our bodies. The human body is designed to absorb and emit infrared energy.
A comfortable environment is one where the body can balance its own temperature with that of the environment.