How Do Infrared Heaters Work?

Below, we explain what infrared means and how heaters apply infrared technology to heat up your place.
Carolina Evans
Carolina Evans
Research Writer
Holds a Master’s degree in Engineering and is keen on her own home’s climate. Sometimes we think that Carolina owns every single product she writes about – that’s ho read more
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Richard Powell
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For 8 years, Richard had been working as an HVAC specialist and AC unit installer since his student years. Now, he’s our main consultant on every technical aspect that may read more
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Technological advancements have led to the development of many different types of heaters, all of which have their own advantages.

Infrared heaters Trusted Source Infrared heater - Wikipedia An infrared heater or heat lamp is a body with a higher temperature which transfers energy to a body with a lower temperature through electromagnetic radiation. Depending on the temperature of the emitting body, the wavelength of the peak of the infrared radiation ranges from 780 nm to 1 mm. No contact or medium between the two bodies is needed for the energy transfer. Infrared heaters can be operated in vacuum or atmosphere. have been around for a while, and they are very effective in keeping a space warm. How do infrared heaters work? They emit a steady stream of heat that is sufficient for protecting you against cold and harsh weather. Infrared heaters tend to remain cold to the touch and are safe in a house that is filled with people. They also produce much lesser noise than most other heaters on the market.

If you are curious about infrared heaters, you have come to the right place. We will answer all your questions!

What does infrared mean?

How Do Infrared Heaters Work?

To understand the idea of an infrared heater, we will begin by taking a trip back to our science classrooms. Infrared radiation or light is a type of energy that is invisible to our eyes but we will feel it physically as heat. The sun and fire radiate infrared energy, just as an example. It was first discovered by Sir William Hershey in 1800 when he was using a spectrometer to evaluate radiant power at varying wavelengths.

Infrared waves usually have frequencies lower than those of visible red light which is how it derives its name. IR radiation helps in the transfer of heat from one place to another.

Derivatively, infrared heaters are at a higher temperature than the rest of its surroundings. It then transfers the heat with the help of electromagnetic radiation. There is no need for any kind of contact between the bodies for the transfer to take place, which means that these heaters remain functional even in vacuum.

So, how exactly do infrared heaters work?

Infrarred heaters commonly use a quartz heating element to produce a heat that can be directly felt on the skin instantaneously. Their main aim is to convert the electricity into radiant heat. As a part of the electromagnetic spectrum, infrared is able to transfer from one body to another directly without heating up the air. It is a direct transfer method which is what makes it so efficient. If you have ever sat under the Sun on a cold winter day and loved the feeling, then you already know what an infrared heater will feel like.

The particular wavelength of infrared can easily be absorbed by the human body. It is safe and you have nothing to worry about. One of the primary advantages of an infrared heater is that the resultant heat usually doesn’t escape from the room.

There are many kinds of infrared heaters available on the market. Some are designed to project the light directly into a space to heat up objects on the way, while others have inbuilt infrared bulbs and heat exchangers to facilitate heat distribution.

How do electric infrared heaters work?

Electrically-heated infrared heaters convert the electricity they receive into infrared energy. Almost 86% of the energy they receive is converted into radiant heat. The infrared radiation then moves on from the filament to the target with the help of the reflectors. Electric infrared heaters produce clean and quiet energy for an extended period of time. They are also easy to set up and require less maintenance.

Most portable infrared heaters rely on electricity. The advantage of having a portable heater is that you can take it with you as you move from room to room. Dr. Infrared is one of the most popular brands for heaters on the market and is loved by customers all over the world. Their Portable Space Heater is favored by experts because of its dual heating approach and auto energy-saving feature.

When choosing an electric infrared heater, you should definitely check the Hz and volts listed by the manufacturer. You should select the model that has suitable heat output and maximum operating temperatures for you.

How do propane infrared heaters work?

Infrared heaters that run on propane are not very different from electrical heaters. The obvious difference is that propane infrared heaters burn propane as the fuel to create energy that can then be transformed into infrared radiations. Propane is not a very expensive fuel and you will not have to spend a fortune maintaining the heater. However, if you prefer portable heaters, propane should not be your fuel of choice.

Infrared vs convection heaters

How Do Infrared Heaters Work?

Both infrared and convection heaters do their job of heating up a space efficiently, but they have different features and benefits that you should consider before choosing which one would be right for you.

Infrared heaters rely on creating infrared radiations that transfer directly to bodies and objects heating them up silently. There is minimal heat loss because the transference is direct and the air in between does not heat up. Usually, they cost more expensive but their maintenance is easier and cheaper.

On the other hand, convection heaters usually warm up the air in the room. They are cheaper to purchase, but the costs when it comes to operating the heater. One of the main problems when it comes to convection heaters is that the warm air tends to travel upwards and escape from the room.

If you prefer a consistent and even heat flow that is gentle to the skin, you will prefer an infrared heater. Unlike convection heaters, they are also silent and energy efficient. In case you are looking to invest in the heating system of your house, infrared heaters are the way of the future. Infrared heater efficiency is definitely more advantageous.

Are infrared heaters safe?

While infrared heating might sound complicated and even scary, there is actually nothing to worry about. These radiations are completely natural and the human body is used to absorbing them. Infrared heat is just about the same as heat emitted by any other heater. It is not dangerous because the radiations are not intense. Instead, they are gentle and even.  There is absolutely no way you can get a sunburn because of an infrared heater. Having said that, infrared heaters do pose the dangers of any regular heater. You should never touch a heater that is working at its maximum capacity directly because there is a chance you might burn your hands. A damaged infrared heater is extremely dangerous and you should avoid using it completely. Place the heater in a spot where it is unobstructed so that it does not turn out to be a fire hazard.

The best way to ensure that your infrared heater is safe to use is to always follow the instructions properly. The radiations by  themselves are completely harmless.

Are infrared heaters more cost-effective?

Infrared heaters can definitely be cost-effective if used properly. You might have to pay more for them upfront but this investment is going to pay off for you in the long run. The cost of operating the heater is much lesser in comparison to its cost and that is where you make up for the money that you spent

Infrared electric heaters are cheapest to run among all electric heaters and you should definitely take advantage of it.

Moreover, infrared electric heaters tend to be long-lasting. The heat emitted by the machines does not escape from the room easily which means that you will not have to use the machine often. Your room will stay warm much longer. To save even more money, you can opt for an infrared heater that comes with a thermostat. This will allow you to lower the power once your room has reached the desired temperature. Your electricity bill will automatically be much lesser. The best infrared heaters are designed to give you complete value for money.

Different types of infrared heaters

There are many different types of infrared heaters available on the market. All of them have their own way of creating the infrared radiation and channeling it in the room.

  • Space heaters
  • Metal wire element
  • Ceramic infrared heat systems
  • Carbon heater
  • Heat lamps
  • Quartz heat lamps
  • Quartz tungsten
  • Gas-fired
  • Far-infrared

Space heaters are the most common form of infrared heaters used in the domestic setting. They are portable and convenient when it comes to heating up one room at a time. Experts agree that the Heat Storm Phoenix HS-1500-PHX Infrared Space Heater is one of the best space heaters available currently because of its 5200 BTU heat output and patented heat exchanger that emits soft, safe heat without reducing humidity. Quartz heat lamps are also rising in popularity.

Infrared heaters can also be differentiated on the basis of their wavelength bands of infrared emission.

  • Short wave or near-infrared: 780 nm to 1.4 μm
  • Medium infrared: 1.4 μm and 3 μm;
  • Far infrared or dark emitters: More than 3 μm.

Where you can use infrared heaters

Infrared heaters can be used for a variety of purposes. Most commonly, it is used in heating systems to provide a continuous flow of heat. Space heaters commonly use infrared heaters. Other uses of infrared heaters include cooking, glass and metal welding among other things. Since infrared heaters work fast and effectively, they are used in large spaces, factories and industrial locations. They are best suited for targeted heating, even in the formation sphere. You can even find infrared heaters in your neighborhood sauna place. More and more machines are slowly beginning to embrace the infrared technology.

Final thoughts

Now that you know how do infrared heaters work and that they are perfectly safe, you should try to get your hands on a model that will provide you with sufficient heat and meet all your requirements. You never have to worry about heating your room again because the gentle transfer of heat from the machine will always fill you with warmth and make you feel cozy. Keeping certain factors and parameters in mind when selecting an infrared electric heater from your room will help you make the correct choice. Infrared heaters are set to become even more popular in the future because of their fuel-efficiency and cost-effectiveness.


Infrared heater - Wikipedia
An infrared heater or heat lamp is a body with a higher temperature which transfers energy to a body with a lower temperature through electromagnetic radiation. Depending on the temperature of the emitting body, the wavelength of the peak of the infrared radiation ranges from 780 nm to 1 mm. No contact or medium between the two bodies is needed for the energy transfer. Infrared heaters can be operated in vacuum or atmosphere.
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