Meeting your heating requirements with infrared panels

Meeting your heating requirements with infrared heating panels

On the whole, an infrared heating panel will heat one square metre of space for every 50 Watts of power supplied to the unit. Take a 600-Watt panel for example: this will heat an area of approximately 12m2 in an average property.

Having said that, there are other variables that also have a part to play in the heating ability of an infrared heating panels. These include the quality of existing insulation, the temperature of the outside environment and the temperature that the household tends to set their thermostat.

Thermal envelope of the property and infrared heating panels

The level of insulation, the quality of glazing and the air-tightness of a building are key factors in determining how much heat is retained. Each building fabric will offer a different thermal insulating performance, but this must be taken into consideration when you are sizing panels.

If you have good quality insulation for example, then the heating panels will be at their most effective, warming the room quickly, then modulating on and off to top-up the heat as required. Obviously the better insulated the walls and the roof space, the more heat will be retained and the less the panels will need to work.

If, on the other hand, you live in a period property and you have solid walls; or if you live in house with unfilled cavities, then installing insulation prior to putting up the heating panels may be a sensible idea. Loft insulation, for example, is cheap and easy to install. Ideally this should be be done prior to installing the panels, since once in place, the insulation would help limit the heat loss from the home when the panels were switched on.

How infrared heaters work

Infrared heating panels work by emitting infrared radiation; this is then absorbed by an object, which in turn will then warm up. The residents should be able a comfortable level of warmth, even though the air temperature may be lower than you would normally experience with a traditional radiator heating system (that relies on convection heating).

If the heating panel is positioned on the wall, a certain amount of the infrared radiation will be aimed at the ceiling and will get absorbed. As a result, this energy will not be felt directly by any people in the room. Therefore, based on our calculations, positioning heating panels on the walls may limit the heating area by as much as 20%.

In an ideal world, the panels would be positioned on the ceiling; however this is slightly dependant on whether the plasterboard is able to support that weight from the panels. If in doubt, seek advice from a construction expert prior to installation.

It is important to touch on shading when talking about infrared heating; if the radiation is absorbed by something before it reaches the intended target, then the target sadly won’t get warm. This is very similar going from direct sunlight into shade – you will suddenly feel colder. This is because the sun does the bulk of its heating via infrared radiation (this is 100% safe and different to UV rays). The same thing happens in the home; if a table absorbs the infrared, the floor underneath it will not warm up.

To achieve a more all-round warm feeling, similar to what you would experience with a traditional central heating system, the heating panel needs time to warm the walls and furniture. These then give off warmth and effectively act as secondary heaters. Solid stone or brick walls take time to heat up but then give off warmth nicely.

Infrared heaters reduce condensation

Cold walls tend to cool the warm air created by conventional central heating and can cause condensation, whereas infrared heating is designed to heat the walls and the contents of the room. The fact the walls are heated and mean they will stay dry, reducing condensation and the helping prevent the buildup of mould.

How much heating output does my home require?

The sizing information we give is based upon a fairly well-constructed and relatively well-insulated home. So as a result we assume your home requires 50 watts per m2, however this can be more like 100 or even 150 watts per m2 for an uninsulated house or a commercial premises. The customer should always do some background research and assess how well insulated and thermally efficient their property is.

The other element to factor in is the temperature the homeowner would like to heat their property to. A recommended ambient temperature is normally between 18 and 22oC; however if you like to heat your home at 30oC then you will require more watts per m2  – and this will obviously cost you more to do.

A room thermostat and programmer may also help you take control of the heating. By fitting a room programmer, you can judge the warmup period and cool-down time needed and also set a lower daytime temperature just to prevent the room becoming too cold. A thermostat will help prevent wasting electricity by turning the heater on and off to maintain a set temperature, which is especially useful in spring and autumn when the weather is changeable and also in winter to keep a general warmth to the room rather than letting it get very cold and then having to use lots of power to boost the warmth up. Most compatible programmers cost between £50 to £100 and can be set with a number of different times and temperatures throughout the day. Some go a little bit further than that and can even be set remotely using phone apps and the internet.

If you do decide to hang the infrared panels on the wall, you also need to consider where on the wall you are going to hang them. Infrared rays travel about 3 metres out of the panel, so a central position on the longest wall is preferable. Positioning at one end of the room and leaving areas unreachable will unfortunately produce cold spots, so you may wish to consider two panels if this is the case.

It is also important to note that infrared will travel through glass so heaters should not be positioned facing a window. This is probably more important in smaller rooms. Also there should not be any items of furniture in front of the heater , as they will block the rays travelling across the room.

Hopefully this gives you better insight into how infrared heating works and therefore you will be able to install your infrared heaters in the most effective way.

Questions to ask yourself before installing an infrared heating panel

Q: What is the area/room size you are trying to heat?

A: The bigger the room, the more heating output you will require to get it up to comfortable temperature.

Q: What is the construction of the room/house – is it an old stone building, a modern building? Assess the level of existing insulation.

A: Older, solid wall properties will be less insulated, which means the rays are absorbed more by the fabric of the building; which in turn means less useful heat will radiate back into the room. So you may require more watts per m2.

Q: How many walls are external?

A: The more external walls that the heated area is exposed to, the more likely that heat will escape and radiate outside the building. Again this is where insulation is important, so determining how well the walls are insulated will have an impact on the heating requirement per m2. The better the insulation (filled cavity or solid wall insulation), the more likely the heat will remain in the room/s and keep that useful warmth, so the panels need to work less hard.

Q: What type of glazing do you have? Is it single or double and what is the size that occupies the walls?

A: If the answer is single glazing and the amount of area is large, then you will require higher output wattage than the 50 watts per m2 that we recommend.

Q: What height is the ceiling?

A: Domestic panels work optimally up to 3m in room height. If you have higher ceilings you can contact us and we will give you further guidance.

Q: Where do you think you will be placing the panels – ceiling or walls?

A: If you place the panels on the walls, ensure they are at least 1 metre from the ground. Some of the bigger panels will require a bigger gap of at least 2metres. On the other hand if the panels are installed on the ceiling make sure the plasterboard can support the weight.

Q: Will you be installing infrared heaters with thermostat and/or programmer?

A: When you have control over the temperature and running times of your panels you can ensure that energy coming in is optimised to the energy being released. The more sophisticated the setup, the more it will work around your lifestyle and operate efficiently to minimise wastage.

Benefits

    • Infrared panels heat objects, not the air, so cold draughts have less of an impact.
    • Infrared panels are incredibly easy to install, requiring no pipework – they are just plug in and go.

Limitations

    • Shading will impact the infrared heating, if an object impedes the infrared radiation, the intended target will not get warm. 

Cost

    • Infrared panels vary in price depending on the size of the panel, but prices start at around £150.

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. You can find one of these tradespeople on our easy to use local installer map.

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