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One of the most popular types of heater available, infrared heaters are typically found in space heaters, and they produce a large amount of heat with a minimal impact on your electric bill. Commonly found in heat lamps, infrared heaters transfer energy from one place to another through electromagnetic radiation and convection heating.
The heater is usually comprised of a metal filament inside of a heat-resistant quartz envelope that’s mounted in front of a metal reflector. The system operates very similarly to a halogen light bulb, but it radiates energy in the infrared spectrum instead of visible light. Infrared heaters convert up to 86 percent of their input power into radiant energy, and lose the rest to convective heat. The best way to describe it is that infrared heaters do not aim to heat the air around them like regular convection heaters. Instead, electricity running through the quartz envelope results in a heat transfer directly to the people and objects in the room. Infrared heaters are excellent for warming occupied spaces, because the people in the room can feel the heat before the air temperature even rises. Eventually the air temperature will rise due to the sheer amount of heat being projected by the quartz filaments, but that’s not its main function. Some models of infrared heater come with a fan built into the device to help circulate warm air in the room and increase the device’s power efficiency.
The size of a heater and the amount of quartz filaments it has directly affects how well the device can distribute warmth. Some tower models have long heating elements that can heat an entire room, while some small, box units might be set up under a table and used to warm a person’s feet. For the most part, radiant heaters are designed for medium sized rooms and relatively short-term use. Many infrared heaters are used as supplementary heaters to go along with an existing heating system.
Some Features to Look For
When you purchase a heating device of any kind, it’s always important to be well versed in the features the system has to offer. Many times devices are only meant for specific uses, or only draw enough power to heat a small area, so it’s important to know what you’re looking for.
As a rule, the wattage of the heater translates directly to its heat output. That may not be the case with every brand of heater, but it works as a rule of thumb. A typical household heater requires between 750 and 1,500 watts. That isn’t that much, considering that the average hair-dryer needs about 1500 watts to run properly. With a convection space heater 1,500 watts might not be enough to heat a medium sized room, but an infrared heater can use the energy much more efficiently. An Infrared heater that runs on 1,500 watts is powerful enough to heat a small to medium sized room. Many space heaters come with a high and low switch that can offer two or more wattage settings. Some models designed for garages and large workspaces offer 4,000 to 5,000 watts or more.
It’s important to confirm that the device is at leas UL certified. UL is an acronym for Underwriters Laboratory, which is a company that makes sure space heaters are up to Unites States safety inspection standards. If a device does not conform to any form of safety certification it should be used with caution. Many devices come with additional safety features, including an automatic shutoff trigger, which helps prevents accidental fires and other hazards. An automatic shutoff trigger will turn the device off if it tips over onto its face or overheats. Many times a blocked air-intake vent is the problem, which can easily be sorted out, but without a proper auto-shutoff trigger, there’s an increased risk of an accident.
Some of the most important features of a space heater are its most basic. Check to see if the device comes with a handle. A sturdy handle is both a necessity and a convenience when carrying a heater from room to room or storing the device. If you don’t have any easy way to lift the heater, it could pose a problem down the road. Also, it’s important not to drop the heater because it could damage the internal filaments and cause the device to malfunction. Another basic feature to look for is the length of the power cord. It may seem trivial, but having a power cable that is an adequate length give the user a wider range of options for placing the heater. Many space heaters come with a cord that’s about six feet in length, but they’re typically smaller than that. Also, a long cord means that you won’t have to use an extension cord, which can cause problems if you don’t have the right kind of cord.
Usually measured in square feet, a device’s capacity rating is the amount of space that the device can heat effectively. Many companies advertise the capacity rating of their device, so it’s usually not too difficult to find. This information is just as helpful as the wattage because it can help you gauge if the device can project enough warmth to properly heat an area. Fitting the capacity to the room size will help avoid having too much or too little heat in one area. Many people prefer to have too much heat than too little.
Many devices include a wide range of features, but the most useful features sometimes come in the form of practical systems that have become standard for most heating devices; one of the most useful, by far, is a built-in thermostat. Primarily used for setting the desired room temperature then allowing the device to self-regulate, can also be used for simply telling the temperature. Self-regulation is when the room reaches the desired temperature and the device automatically turns itself off or going into a low-heat mode instead of continuing to run. This helps the device work more efficiently and it reduces the amount of power used to heat a room effectively.
Another helpful function is a simple timer. Most devices only have a simple timer that can automatically turn the device off after a certain amount of time, but some devices allow you to plan a whole heating schedule. Devices with high-end timers allow the user to set times for the device to start and stop each day, so you can have it turn on shortly before you get out of bed and turn off when you leave for work. A good timer makes the heater almost autonomous, which is great if you’ve fine-tuned the settings and you know exactly how much heat you need to be comfortable.
Another useful device that usually doesn’t get very much attention is the simple remote control. Having a remote controller with all the functions of a space heater is handy for the same reason a controller for your television is useful. It’s much more convenient to operate a device from anywhere in the room, rather than using the buttons and knobs on the device itself.
Uses for an Infrared Heater
While infrared space heaters are useful in many situations, they typically aren’t set up and used all year round. Most of the time, these heaters only come out in the winter months or on chilly days. They typically aren’t used to heat an entire house on their own; for the most part, they’re used to supplement an existing heating system. Here are a few of the most common times someone will use a space heater:
- Changing Seasons – As temperatures being to cool down or warm up, space heaters can be quite effective at keeping you comfortable. If it’s around 60 degrees Fahrenheit outside, you can set up a space heater and get the inside temperature up closer to 70 or 75, which is much more comfortable
- Helping Cold Spots – One of the most common reason infrared heaters are utilized is to help get rid of cold spots in heating systems. Especially in older houses, the heating system may not be optimized to reach every part of the house. If one room is chilly, but the rest of the house is warm, a infrared heater can help bring the room up to the same level as the rest of the house
- Individual Comfort – It’s common for different air temperatures to suit different people, which can make heating a house with multiple people in it difficult. If one person is more sensitive to the cold than others then an infrared heater is an excellent option. They can control their own personal heating environment and maintain the right temperature for them
- Comfort at Work – During the winter, many companies try to keep their heating bills as low as possible, so some offices can feel chilly. Especially if you sit next to a window, winters can be harsh. That’s why many people like to take a small infrared space heater into work because they can heat their own area without adding too much to their employer’s utility bills
Now you know how the infrared space heaters work (wiki), which features are useful and not useful, are they safe to use and when most heaters are used, it’s time to make a decision. Which one you need depends on the size of the room but you know where to buy them now!
More about safety of infrared space heaters, watch this youtube video and enjoy the warm temperature!