How Does Infrared Heating Work?

As with any kind of new technology, there’s going to be some uncertainty as to how it works. Infrared heating is no different, and is very much in its infancy in terms of where it is in the heating market.

What doesn’t help is that IR heating panels operate on completely different physical principles when compared to conventional convection heaters.

The Old Technology

Standard gas or electric convection radiators work by filling up with hot water. This, in turn, makes the air around it hot. The hot air then rises, making way for cool air. This also gets hot and rises, while the hot air that rose previously has since cooled, causing it to fall.

This creates a cycle which is known as convection current. When you pass through this circulation of air, you feel its warmth. This is the basic principle of how convection heaters work.

The Basics Of Infrared Heating

This is the point where you forget everything you know about the way heating systems work. Infrared panels transmit heat by way of thermal radiation and emitting loads of infrared rays – the same kind of heat emitted by the sun.

Thankfully, our panels don’t blast you with UV light too – so they’re completely safe to use!

These infrared rays bounce around everywhere in the room. Each time they hit something, the object absorbs some of the heat, affecting its temperature on a molecular level.

The objects, whether it’s the carpet, a sofa, or even you, then emit that heat back out through conduction, convection or radiation.

Conduction is the transferring of heat energy through the contact between 2 surfaces. This might occur when you sit on a chair, and the heat is conducted from the chair to you.

Convection, as we’ve previously discussed, is the transfer of heat energy between two objects with the air acting as the intermediary. You can feel this as an object gets hotter, and you place your hand near it without touching it. This is how standard convection heaters work too – by heating the air around them.

Radiation is the transferring of heat energy between two objects through the electromagnetic spectrum – without using the air as an intermediary. The heat is directly passed from source to target. It’s through this method that IR panels radiate heat.

This means that no energy is wasted on heating the air – you feel the rays directly on your skin. The feeling is akin to stepping out from the shade on a summer’s day.

You can see a visual representation of the convection heatting vs. IR heating in the infographic below.

Convection vs. IR Heating - How Does Infrared Heating Work?

This is the key fundamental difference between standard convection radiators, and IR heating. Convection heaters work by heating the air around them, whereas infrared heating panels heat the objects themselves.

This is far more efficient than convection heaters, as there it takes far more energy to heat a large volume of space, than it does to heat the total surface area of everything in a room.

You also aren’t limited to the air’s physical ability to absorb and retain heat – meaning infrared warmth is instant. Convection heaters take a while for you to really start feeling warm.

The result of this is that you get a very dry heat. There’s less risk of mould and dampness in your walls, and the lack of convection current also eliminates any stuffiness you would normally feel with standard radiators.

You’ll also get a much more even spread of heat too. When using convection heaters, the hottest air tends to bunch towards the top of a room. IR heating panels ensure that the gap in temperature between the top and bottom of a room is much smaller.

Infrared heaters are the future because of their cleaner, more efficient way of delivering heat – if you have any more questions about the way they work then please get in touch.

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