Some types of electric heating save more energy than others. Most recently, infrared heating has been said to be the most efficient energy saver. Despite what some ads may want you to believe, the laws of physics are still the same and have never changed.
The truth is that all direct -acting electric heating appliances including panel heaters, radiators and infrared heaters are one-hundred percent efficient. One unit or kilowatt of electrical energy produces an equal one kilowatt of heat output.
Although some people claim that infrared heating panels have the ability to produce heat as a radiator but with less electric power, there is no evidence to support these claims. Improving upon 100% efficiency in direct-acting electricity heating would be a miracle- a technology that would re-write the laws of physics.
How different systems transfer heat
There are two methods of heat transfer commonly used in electric heating- radiation and convection. Radiation is the direct transfer of heat energy to people and objects while convection is the transfer of heat energy through the air that circulates within a room.
While an infrared heating panel produces radiant heat only, an electric radiator produces heat through convection and radiation. Electric radiators produce and heating effect that is just like that produced by an ordinary boiler fired wet radiator system.
Recently, some infrared heating panel manufacturers have claimed energy savings of 50% compared to other forms of electric heating. The proposition is that a 1.0 kW infrared panel can be used to heat an area that would require a 2.0 kW electric radiator.
Even though this 50 percent energy saving might seem reasonable, basic physics dictates that the 2.0 kW radiator will produce twice as much heat as the infrared panel. There are other limitations. These types of panels only produce radiant heat which is directional.
Other limitations to the concept
Infrared waves usually travel in straight lines. They are absorbed by people and objects. To feel the warmth, you must be beneath or in front of an unobstructed infrared panel. The limitation of infrared is that most homes have cold spots in each and every room which will not warm due to the panel not being directly in front.
You can counter this by installing more heating panels which significantly increases the energy usage and the initial purchase and installation cost. While a basic type of electric radiator is able to regulate its consumption of energy through what is known as thermostatic control, infrared heating panels will consume its full consumption of energy for the duration.
Once a room is up to temperature, a thermostatically controlled electric radiator will use energy intermittently and at times, proportionally. The electricity required depends on the air temperature. Therefore, in a well-insulated room with little heat loss, a radiator may only need to consume 30 to 40 percent of its wattage capacity to maintain a preset temperature level.
An expert from the Electric Heating Expert explains, “An Infrared heating panel usually draws power continuously. Since radiation heats people and objects and not the air, a thermostat or temperature sensor becomes redundant. Apart from this, if the infrared panel switches off momentarily, the heating effect will no longer be felt and the room will become cold.”
Uses for infrared heating panels
Even though it can be difficult to get a place for infrared heating panels in many homes, the panels can be ideal for some places. For instance, the panels can be used in traditional churches.
This is due to the fact that it is impossible to heat such a church due to the sheer size, vaulted ceilings and the lack of insulation. While the people inside the building sit down, you can suspend infrared heating panels overhead and the directional radiant will just beam down.
Uses for electric radiators
Modern radiators are still the best electric heating solution. Most of the domestic and trade customers still choose them as they are reliable and easy to install and also offer an excellent level of comfort and control.
Electric radiators also do not have moving parts meaning that they can last for a longer period of time. Some are even known to last for more than 15 years. The radiators can be used in small and large properties just like any other primary heating system.