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3 Things You Need To Know About Infrared Heaters

3 Things You Need To Know About Infrared Heaters

Many myths about infrared heaters have circulated over the years. Some believe that an infrared heater could give you a suntan. While this may seem far fetched, people have long been concerned about the safety and efficiency of infrared heaters.

3 Things You Need To Know About Infrared Heaters

The efireplacestore has already shared a very in-depth article about the safety and mechanics of infrared heaters. So, we will use this article to go over three important, but brief, points you need to know before buying an outdoor heater for your patio or space heater for small rooms in your home.

1) They heat stationary objects, not the air around them

Infrared heaters are often called radiant heaters because they work a lot like the sun does in the sense that they heat by radiation. In case any of you miss being in 7th-grade science class, here's a little lesson for you. Radiation is the act of transferring heat from one object to another without touching it. Electromagnetic energy moves from the warm object to the cool one, and voila, you can feel warm no matter what the temperature is around you.

3 Things You Need To Know About Infrared Heaters
infrared heat

The great news about infrared heaters is they will almost instantaneously heat the objects in the room once they are turned on. So, you no longer have to wait for the entire room to heat up before you get toasty. That also means those people who love to walk in and out of your cozy room won't ruin the atmosphere by bringing in a draft. You will stay warm even if the temperature in the room changes.

2) There are more types than you ever knew

Quartz tube heaters

You can find quartz tube heaters just about anywhere. They are commonly used in outdoor areas like pergolas or terraces. Because all they need to operate is a supply of electricity, they are a fantastic option for spaces that don't have room on the floor to set them.

3 Things You Need To Know About Infrared Heaters
tube heater

Quartz tube lamps also have indoor functionality. These are commonly found in industrial spaces or garages. Though, they do have super high operating temperatures, so they may require large clearances. So, you need to double-check that the model you're interested is approved for your space.

3 Things You Need To Know About Infrared Heaters
room heater

Lastly, you can use a quartz heater as a personal room heater. The elements inside the smaller space heater version are very hot, though not as intense as the models made for outdoor use. They come in "cabinet" styles, which means they are boxed in like a metal or wood piece of furniture. If you aren't fond of that look, there are tower and circulating fan styles as well.

Plaque Heaters

These guys are what most people refer to as box heaters. They have flat, glowing "plates" with tiny holes all over them. These are a great option for outdoor areas because they operate at high temperatures and can be installed at a variety of angles.

3 Things You Need To Know About Infrared Heaters
plaque heater
Mushroom Top and Cylinder Heaters

Mushroom heaters are probably the most popular form of patio heater in the market. Because of their wide flat tops, they look like floor lamps, though the tops do more than reflect light. The mushroom "cap" directs infrared rays to the people beneath them to help contain the warmth below.

3 Things You Need To Know About Infrared Heaters
mushroom heater

The only drawback with this model is the small emitter. While the caps do a great job of redirecting heat, they are less efficient than the outdoor heaters that emit infrared heat directly at their target.

Tank Top Heaters

No, this model was not named after a bathing suit cover-up. But I know you were thinking it. Tank top heaters get their name honestly. They literally sit on top of a propane tank. Due to their lightweight, they are portable and can be used in a variety of locations.

3 Things You Need To Know About Infrared Heaters
tank top heater
Metal Tube Heaters

If having a dozen options to choose from among infrared heaters wasn't confusing enough, you may hear many different names like, "tube brooder", "push tube heater" OR "stick heater" when referring to metal tube heaters.

Metal tube heaters are long, thin, and don't heat to a high enough temperature to produce a glow. They can be straight, U-shaped, or even serpentine. You will find a painted black stainless steel version to be common among this type of heater.

This model is lower intensity and commonly mounted overhead, creating the perfect range of radiant heat that's neither overpowering or uncomfortable. Though, if you plan to use it outdoors, be aware that it may not be able to withstand outdoor elements as well as other infrared models.

3 Things You Need To Know About Infrared Heaters
tube heater
Wall Heaters

Wall heaters are a good option if you don't have room on your floor to connect a space heater. They can be mounted mid-range on the wall between the floor and head height so heat doesn't escape over the top of your head. Their emitters are often covered with a metal cage to prevent curious fingers from getting burned. Some even come with an option for a fan. Yahoo!

Note: Most space heaters can come in wall or ceiling mount versions. This is not a separate category so much as a way to customize one of the above options.

3 Things You Need To Know About Infrared Heaters
wall heater

3) They run on electricity or gas

Gas fueled

Mushroom top, cylinder, and tank top heaters are all fueled by gas. While they operate in a wide variety of places, they work best in large industrial spaces or the outdoors. Even though mushroom cap heaters can struggle to emit as much heat as their gas-fueled counterparts, they have been used in commercial heating since the 1960s.

Electricity fueled

Quartz heaters run only on electricity. Electricity heats the filament inside their emitters. Don't let these little guys fool you. They put off powerful levels of heat, yet are versatile enough to be used on boats due to only needing an outlet for power.


Plaque, wall, and metal tube heaters all can be fueled by gas though, depending on their setup, they may need to be plugged into an outlet as well. Though this necessity for combined fuel may not be convenient, the option to get them off the floor and mounted on the wall can be worth it for people with limited space.

Now that we took you on a quick tour through the world of radiation, heating and fuel, we hope you leave here today more informed and confident about what heater will best warm your space. If you still are unsure if infrared heating is right for you, please call our NFI certified techs today. They'd love to answer any questions you have.

About the Author

Collin Champagne

With over 13 years in the industry, Collin is a National Fireplace Institute (NFI) certified technician and managed content for the eFireplacestore and eCanopy brands. He has achieved the highest NFI certification possible as a Master Hearth Professional and is certified in all three hearth appliance fields: wood, gas, and pellet. With experience with sales and in-field installations, his expertise shines through his technical knowledge and way with words.

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