Science has improved the energy efficiency of our homes and business and electric heating is the crowning achievement of them all. One of the most recent additions to the electric heating family is the infrared heating panel which is reputedly the most efficient of them all.
But despite what you may have read in the ads, the laws that govern heat transfer remain unchanged. Direct-acting electrical heaters work with 100% efficiency, this includes all electric panel heaters and these new infrared panel heaters as well. In each case, a single unit of electrical power, or a kilowatt, will be used to produce a single unit of heat energy.
Scientific Refutal for Infrared Heating Panels Claim
This hasn’t stopped manufacturers from claiming that an infrared heating panel can produce the same heating effect as an electric radiator with less energy expenditure. The scientific principles refute this claim. Improving on 100% efficiency would be a monumental feat of scientific genius that would change the laws of physics.
A heating expert at Electric Heating Expert tells us to, “Take a look at the science behind the claim. There are only two ways that an electric heater can heat a space: radiation and convection. Radiation works with the heat waves radiating outward and heating all in their path. Convection is the warmth rising through the air and circulating around the room.”
The efficient electric radiator produces both of radiation and convection when heating an environment while the newly-designed infrared heating panel only produces radiation. The heat you can expect from the electric radiator is the same as you can find in the classic central heating produced by a boiler and radiator system.
When you see a claim bodaciously promising 50% energy savings compared to other electric heating options, you will stop and consider this. The idea is that an infrared panel will only use 1.0 kW to produce the same heat as an electric radiator would with 2.0 kWs. Sounds legit, until you consider that this means that an infrared heating panel is producing 2 units of heat energy from a single unit of electric energy – a physical impossibility according to the conservation of energy law.
The List of Flaws Continues
The flaws continue when you consider the infrared panels radiant heat can only warm people and objects directly in its path. Radiant energy only moves in straight lines and the only way to benefit would be to stand directly in front of an unobstructed heating panel. In your average home, this will mean many areas of the home will remain cold and additional panels will be needed to stay warm, thus increasing the costs and energy consumption.
The heat provided and the energy consumed by an electric radiator can be adjusted with a thermostat. The infrared heating panel must use full capacity at all times to maintain the heat it provides.
Once the room has reached the desired temperature, the electric radiator will save energy by shutting off, meaning that only some of the energy is used. Because the amount of energy required to heat a room depends on the temperature of the air, a well-insulated room with minimum heat-loss can be kept warm by an electric radiator working at 30% capacity. The same room would require one or more infrared heating panels operating at full capacity to accomplish this same task. Furthermore, if the infrared heating panels should become disconnected for a moment, the room would lose its thermal mass immediately.
While they may not be applicable in most domestic or commercial environments, infrared heaters can be more effective in situations where convection is a moot point. In traditional churches with high vaulted ceilings and large spaces, an infrared heating panel hung overhead can provide the heat only where it is needed.
In the end, the modern electric generator provides the best heating option for a plethora of situations. They are highly valued by the consumer for their small size, cost-effective presentation and ease of use. Despite what you may hear, this is the best electric heating option to date.