When considering the best ways to heat a home or business premises, one of the key factors is finding the most energy-efficient option.
However, other considerations that impact the final decision include sustainability, convenience and ease of operation – as well as the cost of installing a new heating system, of course!
One of the ways to tick all these boxes is infrared heaters.
If you’re not sure what they are, you are not alone. However, we have compiled lots of insights and advice on infrared heating systems below, as they are about to become much more in demand!
What are infrared heating panels?
You may also see this home heating option referred to as radiant heating panels. It is basically a way for electric heating emitters to send radiant heat to panels in your home to heat them up. Then, the heat transmits out and warms up your walls, ceilings and floors – as well as your family.
Before we go any further, it helps if you understand the difference between convection and radiant heating systems.
For many years, the traditional convection way to heat homes has been to install a central heating system. The boiler sends hot water into radiators, which then warm the air in rooms to create a pleasant living space.
In contrast, radiant heat passes through the air until it finds a suitable surface. It then warms that surface up. A good illustration of this process is how the radiant heat of the sun warms your skin on a sunny day.
When you buy and install infrared heating panels in your property, they can be strategically placed (on walls and ceilings) to receive and then send radiant heat to exactly where it’s most needed.
Advantages of infrared heating panels
You can possibly see the benefits of heating your home with a radiant heat system already. It’s a far more controllable option, that enables you to create a warm environment more quickly.
Once infrared heating panels are activated, they can reach the correct temperature in less than five minutes, making your home feel cosy and warm instantly. Contrast that to how long it takes for a radiator to get hot and begin warming the air efficiently.
The heat that your infrared heating panels absorb can continue to warm your living spaces for some time too. So, one of the main reasons infrared heating panels are increasingly installed by homeowners is that heat is retained inside a room far better.
The alternative is the traditional system of generating warm air that can ‘pool’ and quickly leak out. Imagine how much energy you lose when someone opens a door, or you have a draft around a window.
According to one home building source, manufacturers have demonstrated that it takes 40W/m3 of energy to heat air with a convection system, whereas a system reliant on infrared heat transmission needs only around 25W/m3.
Infrared (radiant) heating panels are a more concise and controllable way to heat a room. The warmth goes from the source to you and the structures that surround you. So, the energy used to activate a heating panel is constantly being ‘recycled’ and thrown back out. This clearly leads to far less energy wastage and those crucial energy efficiency advantages. And the less energy we use as a society, the more we can do to reduce our reliance on fossil fuels.
They are a low-emission heating source as well and can be integrated with renewable energy systems to create 100% clean heat. With infrared heating panels, you can also do your part in helping meet the UK Government’s target of being net zero for emissions by 2050.
Low maintenance heating system
Though the technology behind radiant heating systems is advancing constantly, the actual infrared heating panels you buy are surprisingly simplistic. They involve no mechanism that can break or wear out, and if they sustain impact, there would be no water leak (unlike radiators). There are no air filters or other parts that need to be changed regularly, and regular maintenance isn’t necessary to keep them fully operational like central heating boilers.
In other words, once installed within your property, infrared heating panels will just quietly get on with their job, with very little involvement from you.
Quiet heating system
It’s worth emphasising a point in that last sentence. This is a quiet way to heat your property, with no gurgling boilers or pipes to put up with. This form of heating system doesn’t involve fans or any other moving parts either.
Health and radiant heat
We have explained how safe this option is elsewhere in this guide, however, there is also a body of opinion that using radiant heat to create warmth provides health advantages compared to convection systems.
You will no doubt have heard all the issues with central heating and breathing in warm air, especially when people have respiratory illnesses. Using infrared heating panels means you get warmed up, not the air, potentially improving the air quality in your home.
Are there disadvantages?
One of the things that could cause homeowners and businesses to hesitate about installing infrared heating panels is the word ‘radiation’. Understandably, that word is viewed with trepidation, leading to concerns about whether radiant forms of heating are safe.
In fact, this is a well-proven and 100% safe way to heat your own. The technology and equipment involved have already found favour in homes in Scandinavian countries, for example.
The infrared technology used is not the same as the UV waves that have been found to be harmful to human health. In fact, you are subject to similarly safe sources of infrared beams constantly, including when you cosy up with a real fire, for instance. Or even when you stand next to someone who has been exercising and who is sending out heat!
Also, the technology used these days is extremely effective at transmitting infrared radiant heat in a highly measured and harmless manner.
Any negative reviews of infrared heating panels in the past have been focused on badly made or early versions that ‘jumped on the bandwagon.’ The best heating panels are constructed to be effective, robust and durable.
Lastly, in terms of the few limitations of infrared heating panels, they can not be used to generate hot water for your home. So, you would need to couple your highly efficient radiant heat system with a small boiler or some other equipment to supply hot water to your taps.
Are infrared heating panels right for my home?
There are different types of infrared heating panels available, so homeowners and businesses can find the right configuration and technology to match their needs and budget. There are compact versions for small homes and much larger-scale complete house heating panel solutions.
These will include panels that you can install against walls and ceilings, but also infrared underfloor heating. This involves having specialist radiant heat panels placed under your flooring. As that can be a significant undertaking, it’s usually more suitable when a home is undergoing a complete renovation or heating systems are being installed in new property developments.
Wall and ceiling heating panels certainly make sense if you have a number of rooms that you want to heat in a versatile and cost-effective way. The investment you make in buying this equipment can be measured against achieving an estimated 30-50% reduction in heating costs for your home or workplace.
Infrared heating panel installation tips
The type of emitter you use varies according to your preferences. Though it is possible to create a radiant heating system using a gas or oil heat emitter, most infrared heating systems are powered by electricity.
Using an electric emitter makes infrared heating panels especially easy to install, as they can be quickly wired into your home or business property without any disruptive pipe laying, for example.
A common question for homeowners and businesses considering switching to radiant heating systems is whether they are responsive to changing needs. For example, can you switch them off when a room is not in use?
Modern infrared heating panels are a highly flexible way to heat certain rooms – and even certain areas of large spaces – easily and controllably. As they are usually integrated with your standard electrical supply, you can even have data sent to your smart meter. This enables you to see the energy efficiency advantages ‘live’ when you alter where you send radiant heat in your property.
The best infrared heating panels for indoor use absorb heat easily, reach temperatures of around 90˚C, and then send that consistent, safe warmth out to you.
You can also buy quartz heaters that reach 1500˚C, but these are only suitable for very large venues or outdoor use.
Smaller heating panels are an ideal way to heat compact rooms like bathrooms as well as outdoor offices or animal housing, for example.
Aesthetics and your interior design
Substantially improving your property’s energy efficiency is a highly attractive concept, but not if the ‘cost’ is putting up with an eyesore!
There’s more good news about infrared red heating panel designs. Firstly, these are highly compact, slimline panels that don’t take up much space. Yet, they can still efficiently keep your building occupants lovely and warm.
Secondly, manufacturers have become very good at making sure buyers can integrate them seamlessly in diverse home interiors and office layouts.
For example, you can get heating panels printed in colours and patterns that blend into your décor seamlessly. You could even commission bespoke infrared heating panels with your own photograph or design on the surface to create a ‘feature’ wall or ceiling.
Customised mirror-effect heating panels look great in a bedroom or bathroom, or you could commission one that doubles as a piece of wall art in your living room. Some homeowners and businesses prefer the iconic and sleek look of white heating panels, of course.
Also, keep in mind that this radiant heat option avoids the need for a bulky and unsightly boiler in your building.
Mounting infrared heating panels up on walls, or even installing them on ceilings, is often recommended. This avoids any obstacles that could reduce their effectiveness.
How expensive are heating panel installations?
The cost of infrared heating panels varies according to the size of your home and the technology you use. To give you a rough idea though, installing infrared panels in an average four-bedroom home is likely to be around £6,000.
You may well find that the price of a home-wide radiant heating system is less than the cost of a completely new central heating boiler, pipework and radiators.
Also, the cost of infrared heating panels needs to be measured against how much energy you will save in future years from this sustainable and highly controllable heating system.
When weighing up whether this is a worthwhile switch, you need to factor in how easy and quick it is to install infrared heating panels in a home or business. It’s so effortless, in fact, that some suppliers provide free labour when you buy radiant heating equipment from them.
Is there Government funding for infrared heating installations? Unfortunately, not at the moment, despite a campaign to ban gas boilers from 2025 and introduce more sustained and energy-efficient home heating systems. However, as more people embrace the advantages they bring, that is not seen as a significant drawback.
If you want to test out how efficient and easy to use heating panels are – before committing to a whole-house system – you can source infrared panels to use in conjunction with your existing home heating. This is also an excellent way to direct heat to parts of your property that are currently tricky to heat up.
The best way to research the advantages of infrared heating panels for your property is to get a free quote and some individual advice from one of our experts.