Infrared – The New LED Of Heating?
Old hot filament light bulbs may have a traditional appeal to some, but they’ve been largely displaced by more efficient LED lighting. Will this process happen to “hot wire” air convection heaters?
Considering how long electric heaters have stayed generally the same, it’s surprising a more efficient product hasn’t taken over this market. It’s pretty much the same technology as it was 50 years ago, with some modern tweaks. Electricity turns a wire hot, which heats the air, which eventually fills the area with warmth and heats you. And in the case of night storage radiators, this is inefficiently stored and released during the day.
But now there’s a new technology which could well change the way we heat our living spaces. It’s called infrared. It’s the process by which the sun transmits its heat across 91 million miles of bitterly cold space to warm us on the surface of the earth. The ultimate efficiency in the transmission of heat.
Infrared heating has been around for quite some time. Many of us have seen those red light infrared heaters at physiotherapists or elsewhere, but recent refinements in the technology have produced a highly efficient product.
The latest Far infrared heating panels using “carbon crystal” technology now operate at over 98.5% conversion of electricity to heat and send that energy through the air with negligible loss to heat us directly. The infrared waves go around air molecules not into them. Now it’s possible to heat draughty areas or even outdoors. If you are within the target area of the heater you will be warmed.
To take an example livestock barns are very hard to heat are very expensive to run as well. With a global trend of increasing demand but reducing costs, necessities need to be as low as possible to keep profits high. So why pay more for heating when you don’t need to, with gas fired systems you have specialist fitters and annual maintenance costs. If you swapped to an infrared system you would use a lower kilowatt system, with no moving parts, so you don’t have any annual checks and you don’t need a specialist to fit it, and you would also bring down the cost of your heating. With infrared being unaffected by natural convection, so your open barn in the middle of winter can be warm but you’re only heating the barn not the air which is going straight outside.
However, although infrared heating is fundamentally more efficient than hot air heaters, its uptake in the marketplace may not be as quick as with LED lighting. An LED light is a straightforward replacement concept, but with infrared heating positioning of the panels is important as the heat is transmitted directly, not in a circulation of convection that people are used to with existing systems.
Therefore, good customer support will be essential in the spread of infrared heating, to educate consumers and help them efficiently use this technology. Already, Heissen infrared heaters are being used in offices, livestock barns, large industrial warehouses and storing areas, as well as in ordinary homes.
Given time, we may look back with distain at old style electric heaters and wonder why we stuck with them for so long.