Infrared vs Radiant Heater

When the chill of winter begins to seep into our homes, it’s time to turn to reliable heating solutions. For many homeowners and tenants, the choice often boils down to selecting between an infrared and a radiant heater. But what makes these heaters different, and how do you decide which one is right for you?

These two heating technologies, while similar in many ways, offer unique characteristics. Infrared heaters, for instance, directly heat objects and people, much like sunlight. On the other hand, radiant heaters warm up the air, which in turn warms the people and objects.

With both options providing efficient heating solutions, the decision ultimately depends on factors such as room size, energy costs, and safety concerns. Each heater type comes with its own set of pros and cons that can significantly influence your choice.

Infrared Heaters: A Closer Look

Principles of Infrared Heating

Infrared heaters, also known as “IR heaters”, operate on the principle of infrared radiation. They emit infrared waves, invisible to the naked eye, which are absorbed directly by objects and bodies, providing warmth almost instantaneously. This direct form of heating bypasses the need to heat the air, making it a great choice for large spaces or outdoor areas.

Key Benefits of Infrared Heaters

  • Immediate Warmth: Infrared heaters provide instant heat, warming objects and people directly.
  • Silent Operation: They operate silently as they don’t rely on fans or blowers.
  • Energy Efficient: With their ability to warm objects directly, they prevent heat loss, leading to improved energy efficiency.
Infrared vs radiant heater

Potential Drawbacks of Infrared Heaters

  • Limited Coverage: Infrared heaters warm only the objects in their direct line of sight.
  • Higher Initial Cost: They can be more expensive initially compared to other types of heaters.

Different types of infrared heaters:

Infrared heaters can run on propane, electricity or natural gas. Each of these has different working methods. Give a quick check here:

Infrared Space Heaters:

Infrared space heaters are compatible with high ceiling rooms. It is perfect for heating up a larger space in less time. It won’t create heat transfer and provide almost 100% Heat around the room. This can create issues for people who don’t want targeted heating. If you’re searching space heaters for bigger areas, consider getting the ones with large sizes. 

Infrared Electric Heaters:

Infrared space heaters obviously only run with electricity. It produces heat by passing electricity through the high resistance elements. If you can’t arrange gas, go for electric heaters. If you want cozy and sound heating serum in an energy-efficient way, go with infrared electric heaters.

Infrared Patio Heaters:

Infrared patio heaters are the perfect pick for outdoor heating. It also provides targeted heat in a particular area. You can easily carry such heaters as they are slim and portable. 

Infrared Propane Heaters: 

The infrared propane heater is run by fuel. This works quietly but instantly. Even at the coldest time, you’ll get efficient heating here. Most people use propane heaters in the garage. It doesn’t hold any permanent energy source and requires a propane tank. That can be a big issue for many. 

Radiant Heaters: A Detailed View

Principles of Radiant Heating

Radiant heaters operate differently from infrared heaters. They heat the air in the room, which then circulates to warm the people and objects within. Some radiant heaters use an element, such as a metal coil, which emits heat when electricity passes through it. Others use oil or water, which is heated and then radiates warmth into the room.

Different types of infrared heaters

Significant Advantages of Radiant Heaters

  • Uniform Heating: Radiant heaters can provide more even and consistent heat distribution.
  • Noise-Free: They also operate silently, making them a good choice for bedrooms or offices.
  • Affordability: They can be a more affordable initial purchase than other types of heaters.

Potential Drawbacks of Radiant Heaters

  • Slow Heating: Radiant heaters can take a while to heat up a room.
  • Energy Consumption: They can use more energy, as they need to heat the entire space.

Different Types of Radiant Heaters

Radiant heaters hold various power methods. Surprisingly, it also holds differences through the installation process. Check on the radiant heaters:

Electric Radiant Heating System:

This type of heater works with electric coils wrapped in sheets. You can install it over the wall, floor or ceiling. The best thing about this heater is it is really energy efficient. 

Hydronic Radiant Heating System:

The hydronic radiant heater will use water to heat up the room. It is connected through a pipe to supply water. You can compare the process with the electric radiant heater. 

Air Radiant Heating System:

Air radiant heater is another most cost-efficient option to try. Air holds the capacity of carrying retain heat to keep up the balance. 

Different Types of Radiant Heaters

Infrared vs radiant heater: Comparing the Two 

Heat Distribution

The heat distribution of an infrared heater is localized. It primarily heats the objects and people that are directly in its path. This means they are great for targeted heating but may not warm up an entire room uniformly.

Contrary to infrared heaters, radiant heaters warm the entire room by heating the air. This ensures a more uniform heat distribution, making them an ideal choice for smaller enclosed spaces.

Energy Efficiency

Infrared heaters stand out in terms of energy efficiency. By directly heating objects and people, they avoid the energy loss associated with heating air, making them a more energy-efficient option in larger or open spaces.

Radiant heaters need to heat up the air in the room, which can result in energy loss, especially in larger spaces or rooms with poor insulation. However, in smaller, well-insulated rooms, their energy consumption can be quite efficient.


Infrared heaters are generally safe as they don’t get too hot to touch. Many come with safety features such as automatic shut-off if tipped over. However, since they heat objects directly, care must be taken to keep flammable materials away.

Radiant heaters can get quite hot, posing a burn risk. But, like infrared heaters, they also often come with safety features such as tip-over protection and overheat protection.


While infrared heaters may have a higher initial cost, their energy efficiency can lead to savings in the long run, particularly for heating larger spaces.

Radiant heaters tend to be less expensive initially but may lead to higher energy costs over time, especially if used to heat larger areas.

DifferenceInfrared HeaterRadiant heater 
TypeOil-filled and ceramic space heaters also fall in the category of infrared heaterAll heaters are radiant hearts 
RadiationInfrared waves can hit other objectsRadiant heater absorbs radiation and supplies heat to the room. 
Cost Infrared heaters are costs little moreRadiant heaters cost comparatively 

Making a Choice: Factors to Consider

Room Size and Heater Type

Infrared heaters can be a great choice for larger or open spaces, while radiant heaters work well in smaller, enclosed rooms.

Energy Costs and Heater Type

Consider the energy costs associated with each type of heater. Infrared heaters can be more efficient in larger spaces, leading to potential energy savings.

Safety Concerns and Heater Type

Both types of heaters come with their own safety considerations. Always ensure to follow the manufacturer’s safety instructions.

Frequently Asked Questions

Can infrared heaters heat an entire room?

While infrared heaters primarily heat objects and people in their direct path, they can warm up a room over time. However, they may not heat a room as uniformly as a radiant heater.

Are radiant heaters safe for indoor use?

Yes, radiant heaters are safe for indoor use when used properly. They often come with safety features such as tip-over protection and overheat protection.

Which is more energy-efficient: infrared or radiant heaters?

Infrared heaters can be more energy-efficient, especially in larger spaces. They heat objects and people directly, preventing energy loss associated with heating air.

Final Thoughts

The decision between an infrared and a radiant heater largely depends on your specific needs and circumstances. Each heating technology offers unique advantages and potential drawbacks.

Infrared heaters shine in their ability to deliver instant warmth and energy efficiency. They are well-suited for larger or open spaces, providing direct heat to objects and people in their path. However, their targeted heating approach might not heat a room as uniformly as some users would like.

Radiant heaters, on the other hand, excel in providing uniform heat distribution, especially in smaller, enclosed spaces. Their initial cost can be lower than infrared heaters, making them a popular choice for many homeowners. However, they might use more energy in the long run, particularly when used in larger rooms.

Whichever type of heater you choose, always prioritize safety and consider factors like room size and energy costs. Ultimately, the best heater is one that best fits your needs and provides you with a warm, comfortable space during those colder months.

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