Using infrared in the workplace
Much of the heat from the sun arrives on our planet in the form of far infrared radiation. Not to be confused with harmful UV, infrared is the reason we can still feel the heat from the sun even though it is 150 million kilometres from earth.
Imagine if that type of heat energy could be recreated in your business and in doing so drastically reduce your energy bills and CO2 emissions.
Infrared radiant heating systems allow you to do just that – these units emit infrared radiation, which can be used for space heating.
You may also come across the term radiant heating, which is simply another name for a system that heats via infrared radiation.
The difference between regular convection heating and infrared
Most buildings in the UK are heated via radiators – this is funny because despite their name, they don’t actually radiate heat at all. When the hot water travels through a radiator it gets warm and heats the air above it. This warm air then rises, only to be replaced by colder air below it. As this cycle repeats, convection currents are created which move around the room make it nice and warm.
Infrared heating is very different. It does not rely on air as a medium to carry the heat: instead the infrared waves are produced directly by the panel. This infrared travels unimpeded until it hits a solid object which then absorbs it and warms up.
Since the energy is only turned into heat when it comes into contact with solid objects, draughty rooms pose no issue to the warmth felt. You may have come across infrared heating panels under umbrellas in the outside areas of restaurants. The heating panels that we recommend for heating commercial spaces work on the same basis, although don’t glow red and are actually quite sleek in design!
Why opt for infrared heating over conventional heating?
More and more businesses are adopting infrared heating solutions over more traditional heating systems – but why?
Infrared heating panels are very energy efficient, since they take very little time to warm up and also are less impacted by draughts. If a cold draught enters a room with convection heating, the hot air will very quickly be stripped out and the occupants will once again feel cold – this is not an issue with infrared.
If you have sat outside in a bar you may have seen an infrared heater in action – it glows red, and while it is glowing you can really feel the warmth. These are the old infrared heaters though – nowadays you can feel the same warmth from a unit that doesn’t need to get so warm it glows. This means that they are far safer in the work environment than these older heaters.
Infrared panels also make for a more elegant heating solution, in that they are very easy to install and are hardly noticeable. They can be glass, mirrored, or printed with a favourite photo for a canvas effect. You can get panels that are very thin (2cm or less) and can be hung anywhere – all they need is access to power – so no additional piping or loss of valuable floor space.
If you need higher power infrared heating units, you can look at the Comfort range of infrared heaters. Instead of the panels that are limited to 1.2kW each – the comfort range go up to 2kW, so can provide you with the extra heat needed – these are perfect for bigger spaces like warehouses. These infrared heaters look very similar to the heaters you might see outside in restaurants, but they don’t glow red hot – so are safer in this environment.
Some panels also offer dual functionality; for example they act as mirrors, and we have even come across restaurants using them as menu boards. You can also get infrared heating panels that have an storage heater core, helping to combine the benefits of infrared heating with the ability to take advantage of the Economy 7 tariff (which means you can ‘charge’ the heater when it is cheaper).
One of the major benefits of infrared heating is that the panels are near enough maintenance-free, basically because they have no moving parts, and often manufacturers will offer 5 year guarantees to provide piece of mind.
In warehouses the infrared heating panels are ideal since they help reduce damp, because the infrared raises the temperature of any surface it hits. This can be very useful if the business is offering perishable goods.
How much do infrared panels cost?
This is entirely dependant on the size of the panel, for example a 300w panel may cost as little £350, while a bigger 850w panel may cost in the region of £330. This is in line with most other electrical heaters, although it is worth bearing in mind that a 600w infrared heating panel will provide the same level of heating comfort as a 1500w convection heater.
This means that the energy savings that will arise from infrared heating panels are substantial, using just a 1/3 of the electricity to produce the same level of heating, so if your business is considering its heating options, make sure you include infrared heating in your thoughts!
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