How do infrared panels work? A simple explanation

Infrared heating panels turn electricity into infrared radiation. Infrared is radiated out from the front of the panel and heats people and objects directly, similar to the sun. They are up to 40% more efficient than conventional heaters, which heat indirectly by producing hot air.

Infrared heating panels are electric space heaters that emit warming infrared radiation. They work very differently from conventional space heaters, so let’s dive into it!

The big difference between regular heating and infrared heating is the way in which they heat the room. Regular space heating is based on convection, meaning they warm up the air inside the room. Infrared heaters, however, do not heat the air but heat people and objects directly by using radiation.

This infrared radiation contains warming energy that is transferred to any object that is hit. This works exactly like the sun, which also warms us with infrared radiation.

A ceiling-mounted sleek white infrared heating panel (image credit: Arno Reijnen from www.infrarood-warmtepanelen.nl)


Infrared works differently than conventional heating

Infrared heating panels are designed to convert electricity into infrared radiation. They emit warm infrared radiation from the front of the panel, while the back of the panel is well insulated. The infrared rays travel through the air and warm up any object or person that is ‘hit’ by these warm rays.

This type of heat is the same heat as that from the sun. Therefore, the heating works in the same way. However, the sun emits all kinds of radiation including light and harmful UV-light. Infrared heating panels only emit warm, healthy infrared rays.

In contrast, conventional space heaters such as radiators, gas, oil, or wood-fired heaters warm up the air in the room. The disadvantage of this is that warm air rises to the ceiling or is lost by a draft. Infrared heating does not have these issues.



Is infrared radiation harmful?

There are many forms of radiation, and while some can be harmful, the type of infrared coming from these panels is not one of them.

The type of radiation from infrared panels is called far-infrared. This is a long-wave type of radiation that is completely harmless. Since infrared panels warm us in the same way as the sun, and the sun emits harmful UV-light, it is understandable to be concerned. However, infrared heating panels only emit infrared and no other types of radiation. Therefore, infrared panels are completely harmless.

Since no UV-light is emitted by infrared panels, you will not get sunburnt, but you will also not get a tan.

Infrared is emitted not only by the sun or by these infrared panels. It is in fact emitted by every object that is warm. You might know these images where they detect people in the dark, and people show up bright red. This is because their infrared heat is detected.


My personal experience with infrared panels

I highly recommend infrared heating panels for space heating. If you would like to read about my experience with infrared heating panels, you can find my article here: Infrared heating panel review: my personal experience.

However, the best way is to experience it for yourself. You can find excellent infrared heating panels here on amazon.com. They are even available as a mirror, making them multifunctional and look beautiful on your wall. You can find a mirror infrared panel here on amazon.com.



How efficient are infrared panels compared to normal heating?

Since infrared panels transfer their warmth directly to the desired objects and people, they are more efficient than conventional heaters. In fact, infrared heating can be 40% more efficient than regular space heating. You can read all about their energy use and efficiency in my article: How much energy does an infrared heater use?

Conventional convection-based heaters warm up the air, and because warm air rises to the ceiling, the room is most warm at the ceiling and gets cooler closer to the ground. Because of this, much of the heat gets lost.

Infrared heaters do not have this issue and are therefore much more efficient. However, electricity is unfortunately much more expensive than other forms of energy such as gas, oil, or wood. Because of this, although conventional heating is less efficient, the running costs are often lower.

An infraed heating panel with landscape art (image credit: Arno Reijnen fromwww.infrarood-warmtepanelen.nl)


The advantages of how infrared panels provide heating

As mentioned above, heating objects and people directly makes infrared heating an efficient way of space heating. However, that is not all.


Infrared heaters do not dry the air

Since infrared heating does not heat up the air, the air does not dry out. This results in a more comfortable air humidity as it is more constant and at natural levels. Normally, turning on the heat, especially during winter, dries out the air. This can result in dry-air-related symptoms such as dehydration, sore throat, dry eyes, and respiratory issues.


Infrared heating is not affected by draft

Because infrared heaters do not warm up the air, their way of heating is not affected by draft. Therefore, opening a door or window does not result in heat loss because of the airflow.

However, if the outdoor air is cold, the air temperature in your room can still drop due to incoming cold air. In this way, it really feels like sitting outside in the sun when a cold breeze passes by.


Infrared heating results in better air quality

Conventional heating makes the air start moving because of rising warm air. This results in more dust and other harmful air particles being picked up by the airflow and blown around the room.

Infrared heating does not make the air move and therefore can help mitigate indoor air quality problems.

Indoor air quality is a very important health topic that I am passionate about. You can read all about indoor air quality on this website. I encourage you to start here: The complete indoor air quality guide for your home.


More advantages of infrared heating panels

Infrared heating panels have many more advantages:

  • easy to install. Simply mount them to the ceiling or wall with the included mounting frame.
  • the warmth is felt almost immediately after turning on the panel
  • the panels basically take up no space by being a thin flat panel that is mounted to the ceiling or wall
  • no maintenance whatsoever
  • Infrared heating panels are available as rough of smooth white panels but can also be delivered with a piece of art of your choice. Additionally, infrared panels can be made as a mirror that can, for example, be used in the bathroom.