Do infrared panel heaters save energy?
Infrared heating is typically electric in the EUR, although oil and gas fired infrared heaters do exist. If you are not already using electricity for heating, using any electric heater will probably be more expensive because the cost of gas is much cheaper per unit than the cost of electricity.
The running cost of any electric heater depends on its rating (watts/kWs), with higher watts indicating higher costs. Whether infrared is an efficient option for you depends on the building you are heating and your circumstances. Because infrared heat heats objects, not the air, it is more efficient where there is a lot of air exchange, poor insulation or high ceilings. Their instant nature makes them a good option if you need instant heat for just one room.
What size panel is best?
Larger panels emit more heat. What size panel you need depends on how well your building retains heat as well as what your heating requirements are. For older and less insulated homes, a 250watt panel might be right for a bathroom or hallway and 850watt panel for the living room or bedroom. For a modern, super-insulated home, a 250watt panel might work for the living room. For an office, you need to consider the size of the space as well as where people spend most time. Some offices have infrared panels near to reception to warm guests immediately, for example. To produce the same feeling of warmth, a rough estimate is that a 600w infrared heater can replace a 1.5kW convection heater.
Is installation required?
There are two options: have an electrician install them so that they are programmable, or plug them into an electric socket and use them directly with the controls they come with, like a portable electric heater. How much installation will cost depends on how many panels are installed, but should be less than a couple of days work by an electrician.
Are there any dangers?
Panels can reach surface temperatures of more than 100 degrees C. Children should not be allowed near them, and like with any heater they should be kept clear of flammables, like furniture and curtains.
Is it safe to use the heater near computer equipment?
Many offices have them installed near desks. Obviously, they shouldn’t be close to any potential fire hazard. But they will not affect machinery.
Are there other types of infrared heaters?
Infrared panels are one form of infrared heater. There are two broad types of infrared heaters: near infrared and far infrared. Infrared panels use far infrared energy, the spectrum of infrared farthest from visible light. Near infrared heaters, which include heat lamps and infrared patio heaters, use the spectrum of infrared closest to visible light, and still emit some light (the familiar orange glow of an outside pub smoking room). Other forms of Infrared heaters are commonly used in industrial applications and animal husbandry, but infrared panels are more common for home and office use.
How does infrared heat work?
Infrared is electromagnetic radiation with a wavelength longer than visible light and shorter than microwaves. The warming energy from sunshine is infrared. Unlike other heating systems, infrared heaters do not work by warming the air; they work by directly warming objects. In a space heated with infrared, people will absorb the heat as well as the building fabric and objects in the room, so the space itself may become warmer over time (like in passive solar heating, where building fabric absorbs heat from the sun and re-radiates that heat out).