Infrared heat is the reason we feel warmer when the sun is shining even if the air temperature is cool. The infrared waves emitted by the sun warm any object they hit as infrared is a type of electromagnetic radiation which is a hundred percent safe and sits just outside the red part of the visible light spectrum. Traditional heating usually works by simply warming up the air around you which is called convection heating. Even conventional radiators work mostly using convection rather than radiation, despite the name. Conventional radiators warm up and then heat the air around them which then rises and is distributed around the rim. Most of these conventional heating systems will emit some infrared but most of the heating effect is in fact conviction.
Infrared home heating is fairly new in terms of the domestic heating market. This type of heating uses a special heater which emits infrared radiation which can then travel through the air until it hits an object which will absorb the infrared radiation and heat up. You can buy infrared heaters which are powered by gas or oil, but the most popular type of infrared heaters are electric as you will not need any additional pipework to fit them. Electric panels come in numerous shapes and sizes with some models even doubling up as mirrors. They have no moving parts so, therefore, operate silently so are ideal for bedrooms. Because infrared heating does not heat the volume of the room and only the surface areas and objects within the room, considerably less heating is required to feel warm and they are very efficient.
Infrared radiation of heat solid walls and other objects which have a thermal mass rather than heating all the air in a room. So with infrared heating, if somebody opens a door the heat will not escape, unlike traditional heating. Infrared heating panels can be switched on individually and controlled using thermostats, unlike central heating systems which will require a central boiler to be operating. Electric infrared panels heat up very quickly reaching full operating temperature and around 30 seconds, this means you will feel warmer, quicker, and drafts or opening doors do not play a large part in your comfort. Another major advantage of infrared heating systems is that they heat the walls keeping them completely dry and reducing condensation and the spread of mould.
In addition, infrared heaters do not circulate dust particles around the room so are more suitable for those who suffer from asthma or other respiratory problems. However, infrared heating panels cost around twice as much as traditional space heaters to install. That being said, the savings due to the higher efficiency should mean you get payback in 1 to 2 years and after that, you will experience some welcome savings on your energy bills.
A typical infrared heating panel of around 600 W would be sufficient to heat a small room and it cost in the region of £200 to £300. However, mirrored infrared heaters can cost a lot more. Fitting an infrared heating panel is much more straightforward than installing a weight radiator for a conventional central heating system. The panel should be installed higher than conventional radiators to ensure the radiation is not impeded by any furniture.
Infrared heating panels come with a UK plug which can be simply plugged into an existing socket, but hardwiring them into an electric circuit is a much neater way even though you will have to use a qualified electrician and will, therefore, end up costing more money. Most panels come in a kit with all the necessary screws and fixings required to attach the panel to the wall or roof.