Infrared heaters are becoming ever more popular here in the UK – as opposed to convection heaters like radiators which heat the air, infrared (sometimes known as radiant heaters) warm objects directly – this makes them very efficient.
One questions we get asked a lot though is whether or not infrared heating is safe.
Well the good news is that despite being a form of electromagnetic radiation, infrared heating is 100% safe. The word radiation often scares people and it is true that some types of electromagnetic radiation can be dangerous, such as ultraviolet and x-rays, however remember that visible light (that we see with our eyes) is also a type of electromagnetic radiation – and this, much like infrared is 100% safe!
Since infrared is an effective heating mechanism, more and more companies are looking to utilise this in their heating systems and therefore it is becoming a much more popular heating solution in UK and Europe today.
Is infrared heating safe?
Infrared heating panels are an example of far infrared, which means they can travel a distance to warm a target area. Far infrared is completely safe as a method of heating and should not be confused with near infrared.
Near infrared is slightly different with the heat being more intense and penetrating, therefore potentially unsafe. A prolonged exposure of near infrared can leave thermal burns and ageing effects on the surface of the skin. Eye damage can also occur because near infrared transmits the wavelength as far as the cornea, which means protective eyewear should be worn if exposed.
Importantly near infrared is not an effective heating solution and for the rest of the article when we refer to the ‘heating solution’ we assume it is referring to far infrared.
How to use infrared heating technologies safely?
Infrared heating can be emitted by far infrared heating panels, bespoke high temperature heaters that are used in commercial complexes or the old fashioned bar heaters. Depending on the technology you go for, each will have its own safety operating procedures.
For example the surface of an infrared heater when fully operational can generate quite a high temperature on the surface – in fact the infrared heating panels get up to about 90oc. Therefore it makes absolute sense to install them out of the way so as to not cause a safety hazard. For example infrared heating panels are usually installed high on the walls or on the ceilings.
Bespoke commercial heaters on the other hand can potentially heat up much more and they will have a minimum installation height for mounting high on walls or the ceilings.
It is best to have the heaters installed by a professional electrician and/or the product approved installer, because you then more likely to have an install that has assessed against all of its safety operating procedures.
Infrared technology safety markings
Infrared heaters used in domestic and commercial premises are extensively tested to meet various European Harmonising Standards and they should all carry a CE sticker to prove that they have had the rigorous checks in place.
Different heaters will have different ingress protection or IP on the surface, which means they should also be protected from ingress of solid objects as well as ingress of water. For example an IP65 rated panel will have total protection from ingress of dust and protection from low pressure water jets from any direction.
ROHS or the Restriction of Hazardous Substances, known as Directive 2002/95/EC, originated in the European Union and restricts the use of specific hazardous materials found in electrical and electronic products. Products that carry this mark will have an additional consideration for the inputs sourced to produce the final good. Some infrared manufacturers have this sticker and other don’t showing a difference in the methods of production.
It is always worthwhile asking the manufacturer what kind of testing their products have been through as well as any safety certificates that also come with it to make sure they are selling the best quality and safely tested product/s.
Installing infrared heating
Are you thinking about installing infrared heating in your home? We have scoured the country for the best tradespeople, so that we can make sure we only recommend those we really trust.
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