How Infrared Heaters Work
Infrared heaters produce heat that’s a product of invisible light.
By Rosalind Jackson
You might remember that infrared light isn't visible because it's beyond the spectrum we can see. That's the gist of an infrared heater: The heat is a product of light that is invisible to our eyes. The reason we get warm from an infrared heater is because our skin and clothes absorb the light [source: Wasch]. It's like the difference between being directly in the sunlight versus sitting in the shade. You feel warm in the sun because the light that hits your clothes and skin keeps you warm, but when you're in the shade, the light doesn't reach you as well.
Infrared heaters also differ in fuel source and construction material. There are propane, natural gas and electric heaters. Some are ceramic, and there are also portable ones [source: IQS Directory].
Infrared heaters have certain specifications and should be used only in certain situations. These heaters may be more environmentally friendly. Click to the next page to read more about some of the specifications of infrared heaters.
Infrared Heater Specifications
Other specifications include: filter controls, wheels, weight, fan, thermostat and color. Design also plays a role. Usually, you'll find a protective cover over the heating element, which can can be made from as copper, iron, steel or brass [sources: Ramson Solutions, Global Spec].
Are Infrared Heaters Green?
It's tough to heat your house and stay green by trying to cause minimal harm to your surroundings. There is not one method of keeping warm that doesn't affect the natural world around you. You could even claim that simply bundling up in layers and layers of clothes would still have an effect on the environment if those clothes were made in a factory. That being said, you can't claim that infrared heaters have no effect on the outside world.
It really depends on what kind of infrared heater you use. Remember how all the heaters use a different source of fuel? You can debate which is greener by asking: Is it better to use electricity or natural gas? When you're considering how green infrared heaters are, be sure to keep in mind the power source of any particular model.
There are other factors that determine the greenness of infrared heaters. For instance, electric infrared heaters don't release harmful fumes into the air or contribute any emissions into the atmosphere. Electric infrared heaters also don't rely on fuel or gas lines, which is another green point [sources: Alabama Power, Tools For Wellness].
Some brands of infrared heaters claim their heaters don't take out oxygen or humidity from the air. The companies attest that their heaters make for easy-breathing, oxygen-rich air while still creating heat [source: Alabama Power].
When to Use Infrared Heaters
Infrared heaters do provide direct cost-efficient heating, but that doesn't mean you should forego central heating. Infrared heaters generally aren't meant to heat your entire home.
Instead, you're most likely to find infrared heating technologies in large spaces that must counteract frequent loss of heat, such as warehouses, garages and airplane hangars. These spaces often have large doors or other cavities that are opened and closed often. Infrared heat works well to keep these areas from cooling too much.
You're also likely to find them along production lines in factories, but infrared heaters aren't reserved for industrial sites and cavernous areas. Because of their ability to focus heat on objects and not just pump hot air into a room, they're useful in home construction or improvement projects, such as helping paint dry. Anytime direct heat is needed, infrared heat may be the answer.
You might even find infrared heaters in use at your local gym or spa -- infrared saunas are beginning to grow in popularity. New technology directs infrared rays toward bodies, warming them in a similar fashion as the sun's rays would, but without the UV rays. Saunas of the past relied on traditional methods of producing large quantities of heat to first warm the air and then the bodies in the sauna. Infrared heat skips the air and directly heats bodies far more efficiently.
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Infrared Heaters Canada
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