Don’t you hate it when the room goes cold right after the heater shuts off?
It’s a never-ending battle between stuffy, over-warm air and a draft that chills your toes. Fortunately, there’s a way to reach the cozy middle we’ve all been looking for. The best infrared heater is designed to heat a room more effectively than an ordinary space heater. Its efficient design will help to save money and keep you comfortable, even when the temperatures outside plummet.
These specialty space heaters produce energy on a particular wavelength that works fast and keeps objects warm for a long time. Infrared radiant heaters also tend to be safer than conventional space heaters, since the coils don’t become extremely hot. They dry the air less than other space heaters or forced-air furnaces. These heaters even operate quietly, so they won’t interrupt your conversation.
Why haven’t we all bought one already?
It might be because we’re not sure which infrared heater is right for our needs. An infrared heater for the garage isn’t likely to perform well in the bedroom, after all. It takes a little bit of homework to get your perfect infrared heater, but it doesn’t have to be a hard process. With a little perseverance and some critical thinking, anyone can figure out which heater will do the best job.
To start with, we’ve rounded up the top 10 heater models and reviewed all their features. You’re certain to find the right one for your needs!
With this infrared heater from Duraflame, you can program your own using the remote to create an individual profile.Read Our Review
Lifesmart’s six-element heater is meant for use in large rooms when you need a comfortable living space, but don’t want to heat the entire houseRead Our Review
This attractive little heater has a sleek wood cabinet that also serves as an end or occasional tableRead Our Review
This model offers the efficiency and low power use of the six-element LS-6BPIQH-X-IN, wrapped in an attractive wood casingRead Our Review
How Does An Infrared Heater Work?
Most of us have heard about infrared light, even if we only have a dim memory from high school science class.
What you might not know is how this type of energy can be used to heat a room!
While this kind of energy isn’t visible to the unaided human eye, it is something we can sense. Whenever we stand in a beam of sunlight, the warmth we feel is infrared energy. By generating the same kind of energy in a small appliance, we can use it to keep ourselves warm. Infrared heaters can even be more efficient than other types of appliance.
Infrared energy can be produced through many different methods, but it all behaves the same way when it reaches an object. Infrared energy doesn’t heat up the air.
Instead, it transmits directly to a person or piece of furniture. That helps reduce heat loss and improves energy efficiency. It’s also why the air coming out of your infrared heater doesn’t feel as hot as the air from a normal electric space heater. You aren’t wasting extra power by heating up the air first.
All Types of the Infrared Heaters
- Infrared Emitter Types
Every heater includes an element that creates the energy. This could be made of tungsten wire, but some also make use of carbon or a proprietary metal alloy. This type of emitter might be found in an infrared heater lamp, which produces light along with infrared rays.
Very large devices can even use infrared heater panels to emit long wave infrared rays. These are common in saunas and some more expensive space heaters. A ceramic material provides another option for heaters that don’t generate any light.
Infrared emitters can also be made of quartz glass, which melts less easily than standard glass. These are filled with halogen gas and are among the fastest-heating infrared generating methods. They are common in infrared heaters for home use, but they can also appear in infrared camping lanterns and other devices.
- Heater Types by Fuel
No matter which kind of emitter a heater uses, it can generate energy from several kinds of fuel. Electric infrared heaters are the most common for home use. Others are also available, however. Natural gas infrared heaters are common in commercial spaces or industrial buildings.
They are designed to keep a building warm even when cold air often rushes in, such as in a garage while working with air impact wrench or store. You might also encounter infrared heaters that run on propane gas. They are difficult to safely use indoors, but they can be a useful choice when you need to heat a space that doesn’t have an outlet, such as a shed or cabin.
- Different Kinds of Infrared Energy
Just like visible light, infrared comes in a spectrum, too. You can’t see the differences between them, but you can feel them. Near infrared energy is very high intensity and can produce temperatures of 2300 degrees Fahrenheit or more. Ironically, energy in the near infrared wavelength doesn’t damage human skin much.
Human and animal tissue tends not to absorb this kind of energy at all. Instead, manufacturers use this intense type of infrared energy to form plastic, weld metal and cook on a very large scale.
Medium wave infrared energy is still hot, at about 900 to 1400 degrees Fahrenheit. Like near infrared energy, this type isn’t well-absorbed by humans. Instead, it’s the kind we use in thermal imaging systems such as night vision goggles.
Medium infrared can also be used in very large commercial ceramic infrared heater installations. It’s more efficient than traditional heating applications and can withstand constantly opening and closing doors better. You might also encounter mid-range wavelengths in an infrared heater for paint removal.
The kind of energy in your home infrared wall heater tends to be far infrared. Elements of this kind emit energy at a relatively cool temperature – at least when compared to near and medium infrared wavelengths. Far infrared energy is about 200 degrees Fahrenheit and produces no light. This type of energy can easily be absorbed by human skin. That’s why it’s so much more efficient than a fire or a normal electric heater.
How to Buy the Best Infrared Heater
Not all heaters are the same, but do you know how to tell the difference?
- Exterior differences such as case design and size are easy to identify, and mostly up to your own preferences. What’s underneath could be a lot more important, however.
- Take a look at factors such as energy type, capacity, safety ratings, emitter material and reliability. An electric heater will work best for most home applications. Natural gas and propane options make good emergency heaters for conditions with no electricity.
- Consider the amount of space each heater is meant to warm, too. Your heater should be rated for a specific volume and may struggle to heat a larger space.
- When in doubt, choose a larger heater and keep it at a lower setting.
How Does An Infrared Heater Save Money?
Simply running a set of infrared heaters the way you would a home furnace probably won’t help you achieve lower bills. In fact, your heating bill could go up!
What do you need to do if you want those reduced heating costs?
First, understand that infrared space heating is best as a supplement to more conventional central heating. If you have a furnace or heat pump, your infrared heater could keep them from switching on as frequently.
Second, you should always practice zone heating. Instead of keeping the whole house toasty warm, try intensively heating only the room you’re currently occupying. An infrared heater lets you stay comfortable without heating everything at once. If any doubts – take extra duvet insert and you are cozy and the bills are safe.
When you leave the room, you can turn off the infrared heater or set it to a lower maintenance temperature. Since infrared heaters are generally more efficient than other types of space heater, zone heating with them is cheaper than doing it with an electric model.
How Much Energy Does an Infrared Heater Use?
You might find it hard to quantify how much you’ll save with an infrared space heater. That’s because heaters vary significantly, both in how much space they’re meant to heat and how much power they draw. Most electric infrared space heaters use at least 1500W, but units meant for larger rooms can pull a lot more power.
What power do I need?
Your heater will use more energy if you’re heating a bigger space or if you want to keep the area a few degrees warmer. For smaller rooms and lower temperatures, most heaters are more efficient.
Don’t make the mistake of buying a heater with a capacity that is much larger than your room, however. A slightly oversized heater can keep things cozy, but an excessively large one will tend to alternately overheat and chill a room. This is both less comfortable and less efficient than a smaller unit.
- The frequency with which you’ll run your heater, whether your unit produces just heat or also light, and whether your heater will be used indoors or outdoors.
- Running a heater on “eco” mode keeps rooms more comfortable, but it does use more energy overall than heating the room only when you’re using it.
- An infrared heater fireplace will use more energy than a heater that doesn’t waste energy on light.
- Indoor models are generally more efficient than outdoor models since more enclosed spaces allow less heat to escape.
Infrared Heater Vs. Ceramic Heater
This question can be a tricky one since there are types of infrared heater that use ceramic elements. There are even infrared heaters that use convection-type ceramic elements as support for their infrared components.
Most heaters labeled “ceramic,” however, are really just a type of forced air heater. They are safer than space heaters that rely on heated wires, but they aren’t much more efficient and don’t specifically produce infrared energy.
Did you know that infrared energy was completely unknown until the year 1800?
It was a world where we understood heat and knew a lot about light, but we didn’t understand how heat could be transmitted. Sir William Herschel used a spectrometer to discover this wavelength, but he didn’t really know what to do about it.
The first infrared heaters, for industrial purposes, weren’t invented until about 130 years later. Factories in World War II adopted them to speed up drying times and use less fuel. Infrared heating devices for comfort were introduced in 1950s Germany.
Originally designed to heat churches, they soon spread to other venues and other countries. Home heaters appeared later, but they’ve taken off as word of their efficiency and comfort has spread.
The market is just packed with different infrared heater designs. The most basic variety is made up of an element, such as an electric ribbon or quartz element, with a reflector behind it. This older heater design tends to be less effective than more recent types.
They combine a larger number of elements with a fan to help distribute the energy more evenly. These larger infrared heaters use more energy to do their jobs, but they also heat a larger area and do so with more consistency.
You can also find electric infrared heaters that add oscillation, aiming their heat emitters at a larger area. These designs are usually more expensive, but they can boost a device’s ability to heat bigger rooms.
So, how do you take care of your infrared heater once you own one?
It’s actually pretty simple. Most heaters need to be monitored, especially in their first days. That’s enough time to figure out whether your heater has arrived with a defect that might cause the cord to heat up or create another problem. After that, all you really need to do is check your heater over every once in a while. If you put it away for the summer, be sure to inspect it as soon as you get it back out of storage.
Many infrared heaters also include a reusable filter. You can just pop it out of the machine when it’s time to empty it. Then you’re ready to wash it by hand or give it a quick vacuum and put the filter back into your heater. That’s all there is to maintaining most infrared space heaters, but be certain to check the manual for your specific model. Every manufacturer does things just a little differently.
Just like any other appliance, an infrared heater can go wrong. Sometimes there’s a manufacturing problem. In other cases, your heater has just gotten old. There are a few things you can do to keep your heater from being damaged or becoming a fire risk, though.
Let’s take a look.
- Safety Features
Most infrared heating units have safety features designed to prevent shorts, overheating or fires. These include automatic shut-off functions when the thermostat senses a certain temperature or the device tips over, as well as microchips that monitor plug and cord temperatures. Grills over heating elements should have small spacing to prevent access by kids or pets, and the elements themselves should be well-enclosed.
The way you set up your heater matters, too. It can be tempting to cram an infrared device between two other pieces of furniture, especially since the surface of an infrared heater doesn’t get very hot. This creates a fire hazard, though. Most heaters need to be placed anywhere from a few inches to a few feet away from walls and furnishings.
Give them the space to breathe and they’ll work much more efficiently!
Avoid operating your heater in any room that might flood while the heater is still on. Electric devices still carry a risk of shorting out or creating an electric shock. Keeping your heater on a dry, level surface away from flammables can do a lot to keep it safe. Practice good judgment whenever you use your infrared heater. Eliminate all fire hazards before you turn anything on.
If you’re going to be buying a portable infrared space heater, there isn’t much installation to worry about. Most come fully or almost fully-assembled, and are ready to go as soon as you take them out of their boxes. Just make sure that you place your heater according to the instructions from your manufacturer, and you’re ready to turn it on. Do be sure to read all instructions thoroughly.
No one wants to ruin the new heater, right?
Other types of heater can require a little more effort to get them ready. Infrared fireplace inserts, for instance, need to be installed on a clean, even surface with the right amount of clearance. Some infrared heaters require wall-mounting on a sturdy framing stud. For safety reasons, it’s a good idea to get someone else to help you do this. Gas-powered devices may need a vent for safe operation. Follow all instructions carefully, and when in doubt, call in an installation professional.
What will you do if a component breaks suddenly?
Whenever possible, choose a product with a longer warranty. These devices have few to no user-serviceable parts. That means you’ll have to take your heater to a professional if it stops working correctly. In some cases, you might be required to mail it back to the manufacturer for additional work.
A warranty keeps repair bills for a defective part or bad assembly from rising sky-high. The majority of models offer a one-year warranty, though this can be extended in some cases if you’re willing to pay more. Some manufacturers provide a two-year warranty or greater. These products tend to be more expensive, but they’re often worth it in terms of longevity.
Think hard before you choose an unwarrantied product at a lower price!
Which infrared home heater is your personal best buy? It can be hard to say for sure; different home sizes, budgets and aesthetic preferences make this a complex decision. There are plenty of excellent heater models on the market, all with great features and design. Out of the 10 reviewed above, however, we chose number 9, the Duraflame 5HM8000-O142. In a sea of boxy, no-name infrared heaters, this model provides a different look and a well-known name. This heater also has a history of customer satisfaction and a reasonable one-year warranty. Its genuine hardwood construction and veneers help the Duraflame 5HM8000-O142 look like a real piece of furniture and a welcome addition to any room. Out of all the options we’ve reviewed, it’s the best infrared heater for most people. In short, an infrared heater could be the perfect addition to your home, or any home, as long as the owner wants to stay warm and save money! Used correctly, these heaters can make a big difference in your comfort and your heating bill. So, now it’s your turn. Find the infrared space heater that’ll keep you warm this winter. Can you or your budget really afford not to?