Prior to May 2017, TheGreenAge had an extremely popular and heated forum page dedicated to infrared heating. We’ve recently taken down our forums as part of our website redesign. We’ve made it easier for our readers to leave us a comment on the bottom of the page, related to this particular blog/article OR share any feedback on our numerous social media channels.
We thought we’d collate some of your comments on infrared to help people decide if infrared might be good for them.
This blog is structured in two parts. The first part is a short ‘most popular questions and answers’, put together from our perspective based on the feedback from numerous installers, manufacturers and retailers, and the other consumers who had them installed and used them in their properties for a while.
The second part of it relates to feedback we’ve been sent.
How have the infrared heaters performed since they have been installed?
This is a rather subjective point, with many consumers experiencing infrared heaters differently, but by in large (over 90%) find that they work very well.
In our experience, the infrared heaters work really well when they have been sized correctly to the rooms they are trying to heat. If you under-size your system, they you may find that the rooms take a long time to get up to the target temperature and the panels themselves will be working very hard. It is never a bad time at this point to oversize your system, which would be going for a panel size or a series of panels emitting a larger heating output that required for the particular room. If you oversize the system and you have actually added a programmer and thermostat to the zone, you will then find the heaters get to the target temperature rather quicker and will turn off accordingly as the room reaches its thermal mass.
Obviously, there have been some issues with heaters not emitting the output as they say on the label, and in these instances we have always advised the consumers to go and speak to the manufacturers to re-test those heaters to see if they are performing as expected.
A view from the forum:
Are they worth it you ask? Well it all depends on what you have at the moment, type of property you have and how you use your heating system. I am also off grid and switched from storage electric to infrared. Saving was about 27.5% on bills – due to better thermostatic control and more focused and directional heat. So I didn’t need to heat all rooms with high intensity. If you do go for Infrared go with a decent brand and make sure you oversize them whatever you do. Last thing you want is to have it like a few people on here that undersized the requirements. They take a bit of time to get going so 30mins or so for the room to feel cosy, but then I just have them coming on and off on a timer.
Hi Maggie, the infrared will heat up the outside walls and therefore help alleviate damp. Suggest you oversize them though to make sure they do the job! (i.e. if company suggest 50w per m2, go for 75w when you size your panel).
Hope that helps 🙂
Milind Keer commented:
Our house is 3 bed semi detached with solid bricks (no insulation). We installed Infrared Panels 2 years back as per the guidelines given by provider. Our personal observation these are slightly costlier especially in core winter (Nov to Feb) when on an avg outside temp is 0 to 6 degree. These panels take longer time to heat the room e.g. the hallway panel takes almost 12+ hour to heat our hallway and that too only 17 degree. If we want 21 degree temperature in our house then we have to keep them on for many many hours. I am presuming this could be because our house is solid brick with no proper insulation. Could you please advise what can be done to improve the efficiency? As of now we are very disappointed with them.
Our verdict: Mr Keer was probably sold an undersized system for the property he was trying to heat.
One massive consideration to take into account as per what Mr Keer mentions – you need to consider how well insulated your existing property is. If the property has solid brick walls and little insulation, you will need an above-average sized system to get your rooms to the thermal mass that you are trying to achieve at 21 degrees Celsius.
What brand of infrared heater or infrared heating panel should I go for?
We get asked this question quite a lot, and in the UK there are a currently a few well-recognised brands like Herschel, Redwell, Welltherm and Funky Heat, which will probably supply you with a decent heater but also offer good customer support.
These brands are competing with up and coming names like Koenighaus and other smaller manufacturers who are trying to get a hold of the market here in the UK. While the main brands mentioned have a large European manufacturing and technical design processes, they are increasingly manufacturing the heaters in China and South Korea, where they can be produced at lower cost and sold cheaper to the final consumer.
Consumers however do need to be mindful that there are an increasing number of purely Chinese-based producers who are trying to sell as many heaters at ‘dumping’ prices, and very questionable quality. Our main tip is to always check whether they have a UK office or a UK designated support service. Many companies don’t even have a UK presence, and once the sold heater has issues, they are increasingly hard to get a hold of. That coupled with a lack of technical support during the pre- and post-installation has lead to the biggest consumer outcry about some of these infrared panels.
A view from the forum:
Jonathan Gilbert commented:
Definitely fit FAR-IR, and when it comes to Chinese panels, as with all Chinese products, some are good, some are bad. I use Chinese and have a friend in Thailand that liaises to maintain quality. When I had four blow their safety resistors because the voltage was over 264 at a site for a while, despite this not being the fault of the panels they changed them immediately and re-designed the panels for this specific customer’s voltage, and all for free. Also, beware the “English” panels as I have it on good authority they are made elsewhere and badged up in the UK.
Anyone who says gas central heating must be more cost effective because gas is cheaper, doesn’t understand just how much FAR-IR really does reduce power consumption.
The biggest problem in the UK is a reluctance of formal (supposedly impartial) organisations, that will only acknowledge the benefits of FAR-IR if we pay them a lot of money. I was asked for £500k to get a system that reduces carbon emissions and works as well in 30 years as it does on day one (completely unlike furred up central heating systems) recognised on the SAP calculations for just how good it is.
So where was I…Yes get FAR-IR fitted and never look back, as long as a reputable manufacturer with a good warranty (5 years, 10 years) either will do as it will fail in first few days if at all..
We bought some infrared panels which it turns out were made in china and they are rubbish compared to our old dimplex heaters.
Susan Shaw commented:
Infrared is becoming extremely popular now here in the UK. Go for brand leaders like Herschel or Redwell though, since there are lots of chinese imitation infrared heating panels already flooding the market that aren’t nearly as efficient.
I bought a couple of panels 560w each from a dealer of a UK manufacturer, they are doing a great job, I must admit I was cynical at first, especially the claim to be UK made, but having checked them out I can be confident that they are made here in the UK and they do work very well.
We went for Redwell infrared. Expensive but work well.
Our verdict: If the product looks very cheap, and the company is promising you the earth about performance, then it must be too good to be true!
Finally, look for the warranty period offered by the manufacturer. Most reputable manufacturers will offer a product warranty of 5 or 10 years.
Does infrared heating actually save money on your heating bills?
The energy saving aspect of infrared heaters is there, but to compare it to gas heating for example is not exactly comparing like-for-like. Infrared heating certainly won’t cut your energy bills by 90% unless you are doing something really wrong today and you have a very inefficient and wasteful heating system. On the other hand we wouldn’t ever recommend someone rip up their gas central heating system and completely replace it with infrared. This is because the price of gas is about a third of the price of electricity, and wet central heating operates completely differently to a standalone electric radiator.
Therefore when looking at infrared as an energy saving measure, it is better to compare it to existing electric heating sources like electric convector panels or storage heaters. According to Herschel Infrared heating (an infrared heating manufacturer based here in the UK), by replacing an old storage heater system with infrared could save up to £30 per month on an average size UK property.
Here are some of the views from the forum:
James Baines commented:
Comparing a Boiler to Far Infrared (FIR) is kind of comparing apples and oranges:
- Boilers – Provides Hot water AND heating through radiators @ 4.29 (pence/kWh)
- FIR – Provides Heating @ 10.489 (pence/kWh) (prices found @ https://www.ukpower.co.uk/home_energy/tariffs-per-unit-kwh & https://www.energysavingtrust.org.uk/content/our-calculations
Conventional Convection Radiator Heating is extremely wasteful, often rads are covered with sofas or installed under windows for space saving which means they are extremely inefficient and loss and waste % is a lot higher although you are right the cost is less. FIR heats rooms much more efficiently with very low levels of wastage however you don’t get hot water!
Henry from the EcoStore commented:
James, we have done many a study as well, and as you may see we are firm believers of Infrared as a heating source, as we retail these products. However, a gas boiler being almost 90% efficient and costing 3.5p/kW will be cheaper in the end than Infrared at 12.5p/kW. Granted, the Infrared panels don’t have to use as much energy, but the energy they do use is vastly more expensive. Our studies show that Infrared panels are efficient, but not enough as to reach the 77% difference on an existing property, but may well work better if you are installing the system from scratch on a new build.
There is certainly a sunk cost to take into account if you are wanting to rip out your gas central heating system, that many manufacturers or retailers don’t take into account.
Nesta van der Wielen commented:
We have installed infrared heating in our home and are panicking about the electricity being used. Is it advisable to zone off parts of the house which are not used every day and what minimum temperatures should we set for during the night. Some of our panels are Czechslovakian manufactured. Has anyone any experience of these?
Ray commenting on a previous post:
“I should point out that although we thoroughly recommend infrared for off grid properties and as additional heating in gas heated properties, gas is still the cheapest way to heat a home. This isn’t a question of efficiency, but purely because gas is so much cheaper than electricity per unit.”
I tend to disagree Alan, it is just what is cheaper per unit, “Low Energy” products use less energy therefore the cost to heat/light a home is less.
I am in the Low Energy product market and would be happy to provide some case studies on infrared. It will become the new solution to heating home especially because of the health benefits that come with it as well.
Our verdict: As you can see the evidence is still ambiguous as to whether infrared heating can heat the property as efficiently as a gas boiler. On the one hand infrared heating uses lower energy output to heat the same useful area, but unlike gas it requires electricity to power it, which is 3 times more expensive than than the price of gas.
While we would suggest infrared heating as a supplementary heating source if you already has gas central heating in the property, we don’t recommend ripping up your system and starting from scratch with infrared heating.
However, if you are constructing a new build or you are undertaking a significant refurbishment project, then we would recommend giving infrared heating a go. It has the advantage of using less space and aesthetically it could blend in a lot better to the new surroundings than conventional radiators.
What next for the infrared heating debate?
As mentioned at the top of this blog, the point of this page is to open this up to comments and questions from you as the readers. If you have questions about infrared heating and are considering having it installed to your property, then certainly leave a note in the comment box below, and one of our energy experts can come back to your OR your comments will be visible for other manufacturers and experts in this field to also have a chance to respond.