Whether you have a small garage or shop space or a large manufacturing plant or warehouse, infrared heaters are not only more efficient, they also provide a much more comfortable atmosphere than conventional forced air heating systems.
So what is an infrared heater?
An infra-red heater is simply a hot surface heating appliance which, like our own sun, emits radiant (infrared) wave energy toward surfaces below. Upon striking surfaces or objects, that energy converts to heat to warm the surrounding air.
Think about it. In principle, the sun does not heat the air. The sun heats the earth and the earth heats the air. That same infrared heating principle can be applied practically and effectively to garages and other building spaces. In an aircraft hangar, for example, multiple infrared heaters can be suspended from the ceiling with the emitters directed toward the floor below. The heaters are spaced appropriately to create heat uniformity and optimum comfort.
What are the benefits of using infrared?
Infrared energy heats from the ground up. Even though the infrared heaters are mounted up high (near the ceiling in most cases), the energy they emit does not convert to heat until it strikes floors and objects at ground level. That heat gets absorbed, stored and re-radiated to the surrounding air. People enjoy warm feet, and better use of heat energy.
By contrast, forced air heating depends on the principle of warm air stratification. Using the aircraft hangar example, warm air must stratify from high up at the ceiling level all the way down to floor level. We call this "hot air stacking".The result is cold floors, cold feet and wasted heat energy in the upper elevations of the structure.
In addition to greater creature comfort, infrared heating systems can save as much as 50% or more in energy consumption compared to most forced air systems such as unit heaters.
Is infrared practical in my small garage or workshop?
Yes. In fact, there are several good garage infrared heaters designed specifically for heating small shops and even residential garages from 300 to 900 square feet with relatively low ceiling heights.
One manufacturer even offers a small vent free high intensity garage infrared heater that comes with a wall mounting bracket, thermostat and thermostat wire. All you need to do is hang the heater and run the gas line. No electrical is required. They do emit a bit of humidity, however, because they are vent free. But if you want efficiency, nothing comes close.
The other option is an energy efficient infrared radiant tube heater. This heater is better suited to woodworking, welding and auto body shops and for spaces 600 to 1200 square feet. Because it is vented, all by-products of combustion, including water vapor, are discharged to the outside. In addition, outside air can be attached to the air intake collar, thereby keeping the heater's components isolated from contaminants in the air.
While infrared heaters can save consumers as much as 50% in energy usage, the one benefit that gets overlooked most often is creature comfort. Years ago, we designed an infrared tube heating system for a local car dealership. The leaky service bays in the rear had been using forced air heaters for over 20 years but they were ineffective and quickly wearing out. Rather than repair or replace the outdated system of heaters, the owner decided it was time to upgrade to something better.
We were called in to consult. With a bit of persuasion, we convinced the owner that an infra-red tube heating system would offer the best comfort for service personnel and better heating efficiency. And did it ever! He saved upwards of 60% on his average monthly fuel bill compared to the previous heating season with similar degree days. Not only that, his electric bill also declined dramatically, because tube heaters draw only about 1 amp of power, compared 4 to 5 times that for forced air gas unit heaters.
But the biggest benefit to the owner was improved comfort and a noticeable increase in employee productivity. In fact, after about 3 months of use, the owner called and said “you know this heating system you sold us? We’ll t’s best thing ever”! He went on to explain that one of his best servicemen had always suffered from respiratory problems from the cold, drafty air produced by the old forced air heating system. For the first time in years, this employee had not suffered through the cold winter. You can’t put a price on that!
Scott Workman owns and operates Infra-Red Products Supply, Inc. of Draper, Utah. In business since 1986, Infra-Red Products has become recognized as one of the foremost leaders in energy saving heating system design and sales for residential, commercial and industrial consumers. Want to learn more about efficient vent free heaters and heating systems? Email us at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 801-571-0036