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Infrared vs Radiant Heating: Your Complete FAQ Guide 

Radiant Heating Flooring Installation - Infrared vs Radiant Heating: Your Complete FAQ Guide
Posted on January 10, 2024
by Appleby Systems

When it comes to heating your building, choosing the right system is crucial for both comfort and energy efficiency. Infrared and radiant heating are popular choices, but understanding their differences and functionalities is key to making an informed decision. Here, we answer common questions about these two heating sources so you can find what works best for your commercial space.  

What are infrared and radiant heaters? Are they the same? 

Infrared and radiant heaters both use radiation to heat spaces. However, there are subtle differences in their heating methods. Infrared heaters specifically use infrared radiation, which is a type of electromagnetic wave, whereas radiant heaters may use a broader range of electromagnetic waves in the form of thermal energy. The most important distinction, though, is that infrared heaters directly warm objects and people in their path, whereas radiant heaters heat the air around it in all directions, which then eventually warms the space. 

How do infrared heaters work?  

Infrared heaters generate heat by passing electricity through a heating element, typically made of a nickel-chromium alloy, which is housed within an insulated metal tube. This process results in the emission of infrared radiation, which directly warms objects and people in its path rather than heating the surrounding air. This direct method of heating is highly efficient, as it minimizes heat loss, making electric infrared heaters particularly effective for targeted heating in specific areas. 

What are the advantages of infrared heaters?  

Infrared heaters offer instant heating, quiet operation, minimal maintenance, and are more environmentally friendly since they don't rely on combustion. Additionally, they're safe, emitting a natural kind of warmth and are energy-efficient, especially in spaces with little or no airflow

What are the disadvantages of infrared heaters?  

The primary disadvantages of electric infrared heaters include their limited capacity to heat larger spaces and the potential for burns if their hot surfaces are touched. Additionally, they may not be as effective in evenly warming larger spaces, which could lead to the need for additional heating units. 

How do radiant heaters work?  

Radiant heaters function differently by heating the air indoors, which then circulates to warm people and objects. Some use elements like metal coils, while others use heated oil or water to radiate warmth. This method provides a more uniform heat distribution compared to infrared heaters but also may require more energy. 

What are the pros and cons of radiant heaters?  

The advantages of radiant heaters include uniform heating, silent operation, and being more affordable initially. However, they have drawbacks like slower heating times and higher energy consumption as they need to heat the entire space. 

Which is more energy efficient: infrared or radiant heating?  

Infrared heaters are generally more energy-efficient due to their direct heating method, which avoids the energy loss associated with heating air. This makes them a preferred option for energy conservation over space heating. 

Are infrared and radiant heaters safe to use?  

Both heaters are generally safe, but precautions are necessary. Both types of heaters can be hot to the touch and should be used carefully. There should also be ample clearance around units when it comes to furniture and objects to avoid fire risks. Radiant heaters using gas or propane use greenhouse gases and require proper ventilation. 

Can I use these heaters in any room?  

Both infrared and radiant heaters can be effectively used indoors, but their suitability varies depending on the specific characteristics of the indoor space. Infrared heaters are particularly well-suited for enclosed indoor spaces with little airflow, like garages. Radiant heaters, in contrast, are more effective in rooms with regular airflow as they heat the air, facilitating even distribution of warmth throughout the space. 

What are the installation requirements for these heaters?  

Radiant heating systems can be more complex to install, especially when retrofitting into an existing space. In contrast, infrared heaters may be easier to set up and require less invasive installation. 

How do the costs of infrared and radiant heating compare?  

Infrared heaters tend to have lower operating costs but may be more expensive initially. Conversely, radiant heaters, while cheaper initially, might incur higher operating expenses due to their energy consumption. 

What maintenance do these heaters require?  

Infrared heaters require minimal maintenance, primarily occasional cleaning. Radiant heaters may need more upkeep, especially if they involve complex systems like hydronic radiant floors. 

Are these heaters environmentally friendly?  

Infrared heaters are generally more environmentally friendly as they do not use combustion for heat generation, reducing carbon emissions. Radiant heaters, depending on their fuel source, may have a greater environmental impact—for example, if you use a combustion boiler to heat the water used in the system.  

How long do these heaters last?  

Infrared heaters are often more durable due to fewer moving parts, whereas a radiant heater's lifespan can vary depending on their type and usage. 

Modern Infrared Heater In Waiting Room - Infrared vs Radiant Heating: Your Complete FAQ Guide

Infrared vs radiant heaters: which one is right for me? 

Choosing between infrared and radiant heating systems depends on your specific heating needs, building size, and energy efficiency preferences. Understanding these differences will help you make an informed decision for a comfortable and energy-efficient structure. 

Explore Efficient Heating Solutions with Appleby Systems  

Looking for the perfect heating solution for your commercial space? Contact Appleby Systems for expert advice and installation services tailored to your needs. We have a variety of heating solutions available, so give us a call or an email to learn more about our offers! 

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