Many people are familiar with infrared radiation mainly in the healthcare sector. However, with infrared panels, as a form of electric heating, you can also heat excellently and quickly. We bring data and recommendations on infrared heating as a component of the heating system Infrapanel.
How does infrared heating work?
Imagine sitting in your conservatory on a cold but sunny January day with sub-zero temperatures. You feel the sun’s rays on your face, a calming and intense heat. The winter garden is also slowly heated, first the furniture and walls, then the air. This is exactly the principle of infrared heating. Electrically generated radiant heat initially only heats solid and liquid objects. However, when they release the heat they have absorbed, the air also heats up.
Infrared heaters in the medical sector illustrate this very well: your face heats up very quickly after turning on the lamp because it absorbs radiation in the form of thermal energy. The air around the infrared lamp, on the other hand, heats up less, since the thermal radiation is poorly transferred to gaseous substances. The principle of radiant heat has been transferred to infrared heating, which is nothing more than a special form of electric heating. Convection heaters, like conventional radiators, work differently because they have to be in a small area and with high flow temperatures to heat the passing air, which gives off its thermal energy as it circulates through the room. They also emit radiant heat, but significantly less than infrared heaters because they mostly heat air.
Infrared radiation consists of long- wave electromagnetic rays that are not visible to humans but can be felt as heat on the skin. These are absolutely harmless rays that correspond to natural solar radiation. But how can infrared radiation be generated?
The technical structure of infrared heating is simple: the heating conductor (a current-carrying wire) is located behind the front cover and heats it to temperatures between 75 and 200 °C (wall-mounted heating elements operate at lower temperatures than roof elements). Behind the heating conductor of the electric heater is a layer of thermal insulation that ensures that heat is only emitted to the front. Due to the high temperatures, it is possible for heating surfaces to emit a large proportion of radiant heat and therefore infrared radiation. Long-wave infrared rays hit walls, furniture, but also people, who in turn absorb heat.
Healthy heating with infrared
In general, people perceive the heat from infrared heaters as very pleasant. We have already mentioned the red light lamp in the medical sector . It is said to relieve pain and help fight inflammation. In many spa and wellness facilities, red light cabins with infrared heaters are now an alternative to the sauna. Heat acts directly on the body and does not have to be transferred first through air and water vapor.
Another aspect plays an important role in electric infrared heating, which makes infrared heating particularly suitable for allergy sufferers : Since the air is heated only as a result of radiant heat, as in underfloor heating, There is hardly any dust turbulence. Therefore, asthmatics also benefit from this type of heating. At the same time, heat radiation on floors, walls, ceilings and furniture effectively prevents the formation of mold (see also our article on night reduction), because the heat storage and dry climate of the room mean that mold is no longer formed. produces humidity.
Where is infrared heating useful?
Infrared heating has numerous advantages, but it also has limitations. Since it is an electric heater, you should not ignore energy prices in the calculation. For example, electricity from the power plant is significantly more expensive than gas as an energy source. Despite all the efficiency and maintenance-free operation, an infrared heater cannot take on the role of the main heater. Rather, it develops its strengths in interaction with various heating systems and when used individually.
Infrared heating in the new building
Well-insulated, energy-efficient and passive houses are ideal for the use of infrared heaters, because the costs of purchasing conventional heating are often not worth it here due to the low energy requirement. A detailed calculation can determine whether infrared heating is worth it or not. On the other hand, infrared heating is very suitable as additional heating together with photovoltaics and electricity storage, since the necessary electricity is produced internally and free of charge.
Infrared heating in the old building
Old buildings can also be equipped with infrared heaters if an economic calculation gives the go-ahead. This is a rarely used room or an excellently insulated old building with a low heating requirement. Occasionally, attempts are also made to make infrared heating cost-effective in older buildings by completely dispensing with additional insulation with new windows and the associated savings, which is rarely successful. However, the flexibility of infrared heating should not be underestimated: one electrical connection is sufficient for electric heating. This means that hassle-free additional heating is no problem if required.
Infrared heating in the recreation room.
A recreation room is used less frequently than living rooms. It may therefore be worth doing without the costly expansion of the heating system and using infrared heating instead. This means that heat is produced quickly and only when needed, keeping energy costs down. The situation is similar with guest rooms, guest bathrooms or garages: rooms that are not in constant use and require constant heat during the heating period do not have to be laboriously connected to the heating system. Therefore, infrared heating may make economic sense.
The design aspect of an infrared heater
Infrared heaters can be used discreetly or as part of interior design. What is not possible with any other radiator becomes a reality with an electric heater. How does this work?
Infrared panels are nothing more than thin plates that contain the heating element and radiate heat to one side. The completely flat front can be covered with heat-resistant sheets , but also with unusual textures and materials such as stone and ceramics . Since all that matters is how the front is heated, appearance or shape doesn’t matter as long as the material can transport and radiate heat. Therefore, there are no limits to the imagination. Now there are infrared heaters that can be covered with your own paintings, integrated into the environment as a work of art or disguised as a mirror in the bathroom.
Numerous variants of infrared heating are available for ceilings, which are installed discreetly as ceiling panels or eye-catchingly as a design element. A big advantage of infrared heating is the flexible design options , as the heating panel can be molded and is not limited to the appearance of a flat plate. Another advantage of being fixed to the ceiling is that the heat radiates from above evenly and without obstacles.
How much does an infrared heater cost?
With infrared heaters, there are always two factors to consider when it comes to cost: the purchase price and heating costs in the form of electricity . Compared to conventional gas and oil heaters, the purchase is significantly cheaper. Most of the costs are incurred on electricity which, as is well known, has to be generated at great cost. An exception is the combination of photovoltaics and battery storage with infrared heating, because here the homeowner produces and uses his own electricity.
Inexpensive infrared heaters in various power levels starting from 100 euros, for high-quality products made in Germany you can expect much more. It is important to know the surface area and power needed to purchase the correctly sized infrared heater. It is calculated between 40 and 80 watts of power per square meter of living space, which must be provided by infrared heating and which depends on thermal insulation. Another important technical characteristic is the proportion of infrared radiation in the heater: at least 50% is required, values between 60 and 80% are normal. You should be suspicious of exaggeratedly high values (95% or more), because these are physically almost impossible.
It therefore makes sense to consult a specialist who will examine your heating situation on site and then make you a suitable offer. If you work with unknown products and incorrect calculations, there is a risk that the infrared heater will not heat satisfactorily and, in the worst case, burn a lot of money.