Many people have been talking about the energy-saving properties of various types of electric heating systems. Recently, it’s been said that infrared heating is one of the most efficient types of heating system.
Well, the laws of physics have not changed, despite what some ads say.
The Law of Physics
The truth is, all direct-acting electric heating systems are 100% efficient. These electric heating appliances include panel heaters, radiators and the new infrared heaters. One kilowatt (or unit) of electrical energy will always produce one kilowatt of heat, no matter which system is used.
There are many claims out there about the efficiency of the new infrared heating panels. Some say that an infrared heater can produce the same amount of heat as a radiator, with less electricity. However, there is no evidence to support these claims.
It would be miraculous to improve on 100% efficiency. In order to improve on this efficiency level, direct-acting electric heating technology would have to rewrite the laws of physics.
Energy Transfers by Electric Radiators and Infrared Heating Panels
With electric heating, there are two commonly used ways to transfer heat – radiation and convection. With convection, heat energy is transferred through the air and circulated throughout the room. Radiation transfers heat directly to people and objects.
“Infrared heating panels only produce radiant heat. Electric radiators, on the other hand, uses both convection and radiation. The end result is that an electric radiator produces the same type of heat you’d expect from a conventional boiler-fired wet radiator heating system” says a heating expert at Electric Heating Expert.
Some infrared heating panel manufacturers have claimed that their units can save 50% on heating costs compared to other types of electric heating. Basically, they’re saying that a 1.0kw infrared panel can heat an area that would require a 2.0ks electric radiator to do the same job. To some this claim may seem plausible, however, the laws of physics dictate that a 2.0kw radiator would produce twice the heat of a 1.0kw infrared panel.
There are other flaws with their claims. An infrared panel only emits radiant heat, which is a directional heat. Infrared waves travel in a straight line before being absorbed by objects or people. In order to feel the warmth, you’ll need to be beneath or in front of an unobstructed infrared panel.
In most homes, every room has cold spots. To counter this issue, you must have more infrared panels installed, this increases both your energy usage, as well as the initial cost to purchase and install the unit.
An electric radiator can regulate energy consumption using a thermostatic control. With an infrared heating panel, the full wattage capacity is drawn for the duration.
After a room reaches the set temperature, the thermostatically-controlled radiator intermittently uses energy. Sometimes, the use is proportional. The amount of electricity needed relates to the air temperature. A well-insulated room with comparatively little heat loss may only require 30 to 40 percent of the radiator’s full wattage capacity in order to maintain the set temperature.
Infrared heating panels require continuous power usage because radiation heats objects and people, not the air. Temperature sensors and thermostats are redundant in these systems. Also, if an infrared panel needs to turn off, even for a moment, the heating effect is gone and the people in the room will begin to feel cold.
While it may be difficult to place infrared heating systems in a home, there are are some useful applications for this technology. Many traditional churches, due to their sheer size, are impossible to heat. Vaulted ceilings and a lack of proper insulation add to the heating problem. Since the church’s occupants usually remain seated, infrared panels can be suspended overheat so that the radiant heat beams down on them from above.
A modern electric radiator is still the best heating solution. Commercial and domestic customers choose these heating appliances because they are reliable and easy to install. Radiators offer an excellent level of comfort and control. They can be effectively used in small or large properties, as a primary heating system.