Contrary to the claims of some manufacturers, the laws of thermodynamics remain unchanged. A spokesperson for Electric Heating Expert says “The heating units that apply direct-action are 100% efficient. That includes all heaters in the category of heating panels, radiators and the newly-arrived infrared heaters. One kilowatt or unit of electrical energy will always be converted into a single unit of heat energy.”
Then there are some claims that an infrared heating panel can cost less electric energy than a radiator, there is no physical evidence to support this claim. The fact is any improvement on 100% efficiency would quite literally re-write the laws of physics and usher in a new era of human accomplishment.
Physics Behind the Subject
It is important to consider the physics behind the subject. There are two ways in which heat can be transmitted by an electric heater, these are radiation and convection. Convection works on the fact that heat rises and transfers heat throughout the room. With radiation, the heat is transferred from the heat source itself that can be felt by the people nearby.
Heating panels can only be counted on for radiant heat, but electric radiators are able to harness radiation and convection when heating the room. The kind of heating experience from an electric radiator can be compared to the old wet boiler heating systems.
There have been many recent claims from manufacturers of the infrared heating panels that their products can result in 50% energy reductions in comparisons to another form of heating. The premise is that a 1.0 kW infrared heating panel could heat the same amount as a 2.0 kW electric radiator. While the idea seems to make sense, simple physics dictates that a 2.0 kW electric heater will produce twice the energy of the 1.0 kW infrared heating panel.
Then there are few other flaws in the design. An infrared heating panel emits only radiant heat. The problem is that this heat is directional. Because the heat waves radiate away from the heat source in a straight line. Because there is no way to benefit from convection that will heat the entire room, people and objects must be directly in front of the heater to feel warm.
In your average home, this will result in various cold spots throughout the home that can only be warmed with the addition of more panels.
Furthermore, convection heat allows the room temperatures and energy consumption to be regulated with a thermostat. The infrared heater must stay on at all times at full capacity to keep a home warm, using 100% capacity at all times. Because the electric radiator can activate and deactivate according to the warmth of the home it will never run at full capacity. In a well-insulated room, it is quite possible that the electric radiator will only use about 30 to 40% of its capacity to keep the temperatures at a comfortable warmth.
Because the infrared radiation is only able to heat people and objects and not the air in the room, it must draw on power continuously. A temperature sensor is redundant as the temperature of the room will essentially remain unchanged. Furthermore, if the power unit were to become disconnected from the power source even for a moment the temperature would drop immediately.
Applications for Infrared Heating Panels and Electric Radiators
While the infrared heating panel is not a practical option for the home, it is applicable in situations where heating the entire location is not possible. Outdoor events and traditional churches are a good example. Large spaces can’t be heated so it is a better idea to use a radiant heating option that will warm the gathering from a side.
But for most domestic and commercial applications, the modern electric radiator is the most efficient option. Consumers prefer these options as they are small, reliable and easy to install, they also offer a superior level of warmth to large rooms and small rooms alike.