A radiant heater produces heat in the form of light. There are different wavelengths of light and our eyes see a limited range of wavelengths. The wavelengths of light we can see are the colours of the rainbow – red, orange, yellow, green, blue, indigo and violet. Heat can be transmitted in the form of infra red light – light that is of a longer wavelength than the visible red we see in a rainbow. Radiant heaters are sometimes called infra red heaters. An electric bar fire produces a visible light and radiant heat. This can be felt as a harsh sensation on the skin if sitting close to the fire.  Radiant heaters may be gas fired heaters, of the kind used in warehouses or factories, or panel heaters. Panel heaters are usually mounted on the ceiling because they emit infra red light in the same way as a light bulb emits visible light.

The disadvantage with a conventional central heating system is that it has to warm up the air in the room before the room reaches the correct temperature. This takes a long time. You might find the heating needs to be set to come on a few hours before you come home so that the house will be warm. Radiant heaters only have to warm up the objects that are underneath them. They are like an electric light shining on the objects. You will feel warm in a fraction of the time. Less energy is wasted. Some panel heaters are electric and contain electric heating elements. This has the disadvantage that most of our electricity is generated from coal fired power stations which are only 40% efficient. There are panel heaters that are full of hot water pipes, taking advantage of the fact that many modern gas boilers are over 90% efficient.

What is a Radiant Heater?