How Energy Efficient are Infrared Heaters?

Omkar Phatak Dec 1, 2018
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Do infrared heaters really work and save money? How energy efficient are they? If you are looking for an answer to these questions, this will be an interesting read.
In colder environment like the one we have in North America, installing heating systems is not an option but a necessity. Besides the central heating mechanism and adequate insulation for your home, one more way of warming your home interiors is using an infrared heater.
Due to the difference in the underlying heat transfer mechanism that powers these heaters, they are more energy efficient than most conventional types of heaters. These devices indeed save a lot of power, compared to other heaters.
The efficiency of a heating system is measured by the amount of heat provided by it, compared to the energy supplied to drive the system. No heating system is 100% efficient, which has been established as a thermodynamics law. In case of a heating system, efficiency is not just about the quantity of heat, but also the time taken to spread uniformly.

How do they Work?

Infrared heaters work on the principle of electromagnetic radiation. When any object is heated or it acquires energy, it tends to radiate heat in the form of electromagnetic waves. 
These waves of energy, do not require any material medium for their transmission. The wavelength and frequency of these waves depends on the temperature and nature of the material used in them. These heaters are labeled as 'infrared' as they emit radiation in the infrared spectrum of electromagnetic waves.
These heaters vary with respect to the types of heating elements and energy sources used. Quartz lamps, ceramic emitters, and gas-fired catalytic heaters are some examples.
The radiating element is covered in a tube, with air evacuated from it to prevent oxidation. As the element heats up, it directly starts radiating heat, which can be felt immediately. These types of heaters are widely used in industries as well.

How Energy Efficient are they?

It has been scientifically proven that these heaters radiate almost 86% of energy supplied to them by heating sources. Unlike conventional heaters, they don't need to be switched on, for a long time beforehand, to build up the heat. You can feel the warmth instantly, as the heat isn't received through air convection, but direct absorption, due to radiation.
Some radiators come with an oscillation function, which mechanically moves them, so that the space around is heated uniformly. Compared to other heaters, which work by heating air in the room, these types work faster and are easier on your energy bills. That makes buying one, a smart move.
It's a fact that radiation is the fastest and most efficient way of transmitting energy. That's how the Earth receives energy from the Sun, even in the absence of any atmosphere or material medium between them. Infrared heaters operate on the same principle of radiated heat, making them the most efficient heating systems.
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