Energy Savings from infra red
Why are radiant heaters more energy-efficient than central heating?
There are three reasons why "Radiant" heaters are energy-efficient as a group.
1. Radiant heaters heat surface area in a room (walls and objects) not the entire volume of the air. Non radiant heaters (like central heating) just heat the air, and therefore have to calculate for a higher “Installed Capacity” figure by about 30%. e.g.
2. With radiant heat, because you are heating objects and not the air, you retain a more effective "thermal mass" in your house than you do by central-heating the air (which has no thermal mass). With central heating, as soon as a draught is introduced, you lose your heated air out of the door.
3. Human "Thermal Comfort" is experienced entirely differently if you heat the air in a room or the objects inside it. The page How does Infrared Heating work? cites the experiments that show that with heated air and cold walls, humans still feel cold, but with cold air but heated walls, humans feel warm! With radiant heaters you can use a thermostat to switch the unit off at an air temperature of as little as 16.5°C because your walls and furniture will be 22°C and you will still feel comfortable. This implies a further 7% reduction in the energy requirements of the unit (which must be properly specified for the job of course).
Aren't central heaters radiant heaters?
No: central heating "radiators" are cooler than Radiant heaters, which means they convect, rather than radiate. i.e. they rely on warming the air, which then forms its own circulation current around the room. As you can see from the above, this is a less efficient way of heating people. The paradox of the last 50 years is that oil & gas central heating - whilst making for less efficient radiators - has just been a lot cheaper to run than any alternative for of radiant heater and consequently it has made more economic sense to use them (because you can overlook their inefficiency and just run them longer). Infrared now reverses this situation, being cheaper to run than oil or gas as well as being a more efficient radiator.
Click the next tab below to learn why Far Infrared technology has emerged as the most cost-effective form of heater.
Why has Far Infrared now emerged as the most cost-effective solution?
Why Far Infrared, then?
What is "new" about Far Infrared panels is that the technology has finally emerged to enable a form of electrical heater to become more cost-effective than any other form of heating. This is achieved through "Low Watt density" of the panel.
Low watt density
Far Infrared panels have a very thinly stretched, tightly coiled wire woven over the entire surface area of the panel. Thin and coiled wire requires less energy to reach a given temperature than a thicker straight piece of wire. And the presence of this thin wire right through the surface area of the panel means the whole panel reaches an effective radiating temperature (typically 85 - 100°C) for very little input of electricity. The temperature is key though: as anything less than this and the panel will convect, not radiate and anything more than this uses more energy than is necessary. Please note this is why we labour the point in our FAQs and elsewhere to avoid cheap imported panels. They are not optimised for UK voltage and therefore simply don't operate at a temperature that produces what their suppliers claim. This lack of optimisation (in part) explains their cheapness (their poor quality explains the rest). Some even arrive with their foreign plug still baked-on which should really sound alarm bells.
Reputable makes of heater, such as Herschel, incorporate a number of internal construction features which also add to their energy-efficiency. The panel surface is also made from a highly "emissive" surface (glass and enamelled stainless steel) which gets rid of (i.e. emits) surface energy as quickly as possible.
More efficient versus what?
The following energy-comparison studies were undertaken on different-sized family houses using different types of heating. The results clearly indicate energy savings of up to 70% were possible with Infrared to heat the respective houses to the same acceptable standard as under their former sources of heat, but the actual savings figure will depend on the fuel-type being replaced, how the room was being used before and after Infrared was installed, thermal efficiency of the house etc.
Low "TCO" - the way traditional heating manufacturers DON'T want you to think!
If you compare the cost of replacing a boiler, or purchasing any other form of heating with the cost of installing infrared for a whole house - there's almost no comparison. A boiler replacement will cost around £3,200 and an equivalent whole-house Infrared installation would cost about £4,500. A new electric radiator would cost around £130 and a new equivalent Infrared panel would cost about £500. No case to make then?
This is the way traditional heater manufacturers want you to think.
Because what you are not told is that by year 3, the COST of your infrared purchase, plus all the intervening running costs, will have been saved when compared with the ongoing running costs of any other form of heating.
This is what we call low "total cost of ownership" or "TCO".
The only close cost-competitor to Infrared Heating is to be found in the higher-rated modern Gas boilers (A-rated). And while that is true comparing per-hour running costs (Gas works-out marginally cheaper), what they do not tell you is that you have to run your gas 3x longer per day to get the equivalent of the 24x7 heat you'd be getting from Infrared. This is because Infrared heats the room, not the air and therefore only ever "tops-up" once everything is warmed through. With gas (oil, heat pumps, underfloor heating etc) once the thermostat reaches its set point, everything cools down, the warm air disappears and you have to start again.
Give me a cost comparison
Comparison between Night Storage and Infrared
In a typical case study we performed, a 3 bedroom house with double-glazing and cavity walls and previously heated using "Night Storage" heating experienced the following energy-savings.
Breakdown of what we replaced:
These are substantial savings made in a real-life scenario and go to show the impressive efficiencies implied by this new technology.
Detailed Energy-savings studies
Further experiments were performed to determine the heat-efficiency over time, by using infra red heat to maintain a constant level of comfort in the indoor temperature despite changes in outdoor temperature. The point being that with standard convection-based heating, large changes in outside temperature typically requires a large change in energy required to heat the house (house insulation remaining the same before and during the experiment). The tests demonstrate that whilst heating was required as the outside air temperature dropped (i.e. house insulation was not perfect), the heat energy required to maintain comfort was far lower than standard convection-based heating. Consequently heating bills over the winter period may be considered a fraction of what they would be using convection heating.
Single Family House - Swiss Midlands - ROOM 1
Energy Saving Construction
Statistics period from 1.10.2007 - 31.3.2008
Single Family House - Swiss Midlands - ROOM 2
Energy Saving Construction
Statistics period from 1.10.2007 - 31.3.2008
Other ways Infrared Heating is more energy-efficient
There are other advantage Infrared heating has over other types of heater and these include:
There is no "system loss" in having to heat an interim "medium" (such as water in central heating or oil in electric radiators) or in having to pipe that medium around the house (very wasteful).
Oil and Gas boilers also consume electricity (as well as oil and gas) in order to actually run and this figure is often left out of comparisons.
Infraredheaters convert all their energy into heat. Only the top A-Rated condensing boilers can claim levels of efficiency approaching 97%, but in order to permit the temperature drop required to allow a condensing boiler to work, you have to fit larger radiator panels, which can end-up being a considerable expense.
Oil and Gas boiler efficiency deteriorates rapidly after the first 3 years and after 7 - 10 years you should be looking to replace them. Again, modern boilers will provide better performance than this for at least 10 years so long as you maintain and service them regularly (and you will still ultimately have to replace). With Infrared there are no maintenance costs and you should never have to replace a reliable make.
Author: Greenenergy (eu).