Infrared Heaters — Extremely Effective Supplementary Heating

Infrared HeatingIn the cold Canadian winters it’s often important to have a backup or supplemental heating system on hand just in case your furnace decides to go into hibernation. Perhaps the most cost-efficient and effective form of additional warmth is infrared heaters. Instead of simply going to a hardware store and saying, “I’ll take an infrared heater”, know which type fits your budget and heating needs and understand the array of units available with this handy guide.

Near Infrared

One type of infrared heating is known as ‘near infrared’ or also IRA, short wave, and bright. These heat lamps emit temperatures of 1300 degrees C and more in addition to a deep red visible light. The devices contain a quartz emitter with a reflector that helps to concentrate the heat in one particular direction. These types of heaters can also be powered by fuel in which they burn either propane or natural gas. The petro heats a steel tube which glows hot enough to produce the near infrared heat.

Near infrared are typically not used to heat humans unless placed a long distance away. The 1300+ degrees is simply too hot for comfortable heating applications. When near infrared are placed too close to humans, adverse health effects occur including headaches, dry eyes, bleaching of the iris, and more. Prolonged exposure to the near infrared heat has been proven by evidence to cause damage to the skin and eye tissue whereas other types of these heaters (far, medium-wave) show no issues.

Because near infrared heaters have such deep penetrating effects, they do have some benefits in the medical field. That being said even in medical instances exposure is only recommended in short doses with heavy eye protection mandatory. Near infrared heat is used to treat some skin ailments and a form of near-infrared light is also used in night vision goggles.

Another disadvantage of near infrared lamps is that they tend to have a shorter life than the other two types. This is generally caused by the fact that people misuse them for comfort heating in public places such as an outdoor tailgating party which causes frequent cycling of the tubes and bulbs. When these components are repeatedly turning on and off they tend to fail sooner and quartz or other infrared lamps are better served for these heating purposes.

Medium Infrared

Medium infrared heaters are the next on the spectrum that emit much lower temperatures than far at ‘only’ 500 to 800 degrees C. This type of radiation is generally found in industrial processes whereas it occurs naturally in smelting or glass-blowing uses. Interestingly enough medium infrared is the same type of light sought by heat seeking missiles to detect exhaust fumes from aircraft.


The medium-wave infrared heating elements are made of carbon or quartz and have the main benefit of reaching operating temperatures in a much quicker manner. Wavelength applications include manufacturing such as curing glues as well as welding plastic, the curing of print toner, coating material with PVC and also grilling and food preparation.

In public domain medium infrared heaters are used in public and commercial spaces. Much like the outdoor tailgating parties using near infrared heaters to warm up the patrons, medium-wave is a much more practical option. The distances where these heaters can be placed is much closer to the crowd plus the medium infrared is more energy-efficient. The heat emitted by medium-wave heaters is less fierce than near infrared and doesn’t force people to suffer the same side effects such as damage to the skin and eyes. Plus, the glare of the red light isn’t present in medium infrared heaters as it is in near.

Far Infrared

Far infrared heaters Edmonton are also known as IRC or long wave. They operate at wavelengths above 3,000 nanometers. Far infrared heaters are perhaps the most popular for Edmontonians because they operate at significantly lower temperatures around 100 degree C and also have no visible light associated with them. The elements used in the far infrared heaters are made of nickel ceramic which is very long-lasting.

The low temperatures of far infrared heaters enable their use in domestic, commercial, and public comfort heating. Modern day saunas also use the technology as it produces enough heat for sweat but still maintain comfort.

The 100 degree C temperature is very important in defining a panel as far infrared because it permits the low wattage that obtains the energy saving benefits of the technology. If a panel runs above 100 degrees is not using the same low input wattage that backs the far infrared energy saving claims. Therefore panels need to be adjusted for use in the UK otherwise they’ll use more energy than the claims on the box state. Otherwise far infrared heaters can be run right out of the box for standard voltages in Canada and the U.S.

An Easy Guide to Choosing the Best Type

Now that you’ve learned the basics of the three different types of infrared heaters, it’s time to choose the model that is best suited for your needs. For instance if you have a:

  • Large open space (indoor or outdoor) to heat
  • Used infrequently so that frequent cycling doesn’t decrease the life
  • Have room to keep the model out of reach of people mounted far away
  • Void of a risk to prolonged exposure to the eyes or skin

Then a near infrared heater is perfect for the job. These are typically used in saunas or could be placed in a large barn or shed. If you:

  • Have a large open space to heat
  • Use the heater frequently causing more cycling on and off
  • Don’t have the space to mount very far from people but enough to still stay out of reach

A medium-wave infrared heater will probably be suffice. Medium wave heaters are used in similar spots like a barn or shed but ones used more frequently, typically like a garage or body shop. Finally if you have smaller spaces to heat and must place a unit closer to people then a far infrared heater is the type you should purchase. These are generally found in the home.

All infrared heaters are not the same and now you have the tools to pick the one perfect for your application.


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