All About Infrared Space Heaters

Infrared space heaters have become an increasingly popular choice for heating small to medium-sized rooms in homes and offices. As an efficient, safe, and affordable heating option, infrared heaters provide targeted warmth that warms people and objects rather than just the surrounding air. We’ll explore everything you need to know about infrared space heaters, from how they work to top products, safety tips, maintenance, and more.

How Infrared Space Heaters Work

Infrared space heaters work differently than conventional forced air heating systems. While forced air heaters warm up a room by blowing hot air to raise the temperature of the surrounding air, infrared heaters emit infrared radiation that directly heats people and objects.

Infrared radiation is part of the electromagnetic spectrum with wavelengths just below the visible light spectrum. When infrared waves strike an object, the object absorbs the waves and converts them into heat. This direct heating allows infrared space heaters to warm people and surfaces rapidly without needing to heat the air in between.

Infrared space heaters use several technologies to generate and emit infrared radiation:

Ceramic Infrared Heaters

Ceramic infrared heaters use a ceramic plate or coil that is heated up by passing electricity through it. As the ceramic material heats up, it emits medium- and far-infrared waves that radiate outwards and gently warm people, floors, furniture, and other objects in the room.

Ceramic heaters are inexpensive to produce and operate. They heat up quickly and provide steady, even heat. On the downside, ceramic elements are prone to breaking and produce less infrared radiation than other technologies.

Quartz Infrared Heaters

Quartz infrared heaters use a quartz heating element, typically a quartz tube or rod, that is illuminated by an electric current. The quartz absorbs the current and gets hot enough to emit infrared heat.

Quartz heating elements run hotter than ceramic plates and emit more intense infrared waves, both short- and long-wave. The higher intensity infrared waves heat up a room faster. Quartz elements last longer than ceramic ones. However, quartz heaters are more expensive.

Carbon Infrared Heaters

Carbon infrared heaters use a carbon fiber heating element. As electricity passes through the carbon fibers, they heat up and emit short- and medium-wave infrared radiation. Carbon fiber elements reach maximum temperature and infrared output faster than quartz or ceramic. This rapid initial burst of heat allows carbon infrared heaters to warm up a room quicker. Carbon fiber elements are durable and long-lasting. They are more energy efficient than quartz or ceramic since they produce more infrared energy relative to the energy input. However, carbon fiber heaters are typically the most expensive type.

Top Infrared Space Heaters

With different designs and technologies available, which are the best infrared space heaters to buy? Here are some top-rated options across a range of styles and budgets:

Dr. Infrared Heater Portable Space Heater

  • Type: Quartz infrared
  • Coverage: 150 square feet
  • Highlights: Dual heating systems combining infrared quartz tube + PTC electric fan, high and low heat settings from 1000-1500 watts, remote control, 12-hour auto shut-off timer

This model from Dr. Infrared is a top pick for a portable infrared space heater combining quartz infrared with a fan. It heats quickly and can fill a medium-sized room with steady, comfortable heat. The portable design has caster wheels and a carry handle. It includes overload protection and tip-over safety shutoff.

Duraflame 3D Infrared Electric Fireplace Stove

  • Type: Infrared fireplace insert
  • Coverage: 1000 square feet
  • Highlights: Realistic 3D flame effect, remote control, 5,200 BTU heating power, safety auto shutoff, adjustable thermostat 50–90°F

This Duraflame electric stove provides the cozy ambiance of a fireplace with infrared heating power. The 3D flames create a realistic look. It heats effectively while saving energy compared to a traditional fireplace. The fireplace insert design allows for easy installation and portability.

Lifesmart Large Room Infrared Quartz Heater

  • Type: Quartz infrared
  • Coverage: 300 square feet
  • Highlights: 3 quartz elements, 1500 watts, digital thermostat 50–90°F, tip-over/overheat protection

This large heater from Lifesmart can warm extra-large, open rooms with its 3 commercial-grade quartz elements and 1500W power. It heats up fast and has integrated safety features. The cube design and wood cabinet save space while adding style.

Honeywell UberHeat Ceramic Heater

  • Type: Ceramic infrared
  • Coverage: 150 square feet
  • Highlights: 2 heat settings up to 1500 watts, adjustable thermostat, tip-over & overheat protection, compact & portable

This affordable ceramic infrared heater from Honeywell provides personalized heating in small to medium-sized rooms. Its UberHeat ceramic technology heats up quickly and uniformly. The compact, portable design is lightweight and easy to move room to room. It includes multiple safety features.

Dr. Infrared Carbon Infrared Heater

  • Type: Carbon infrared
  • Coverage: 150 square feet
  • Highlights: Advanced carbon fiber heating system, dual heating settings up to 1500 watts, remote control, safety shutoff, lifetime filter

This Dr. Infrared model uses an advanced carbon fiber infrared element to provide faster heating and maximum efficiency. It leverages carbon infrared and blower fan heating for versatile heat coverage. The included remote and safety features add convenience and peace of mind.

Infrared Space Heater Safety Tips

While infrared space heaters provide targeted, efficient heat, they do come with some safety considerations. Here are tips for using your infrared heater safely:

  • Choose a unit with tip-over and overheat auto shutoff protections. These features turn the heater off automatically if it gets knocked over or overheats.
  • Place the heater on a level, nonflammable surface at least 3 feet away from furniture, curtains, or other objects. Never put on carpets or rugs.
  • Avoid using an extension cord, which can overheat. Plug the heater directly into a wall outlet.
  • Turn the heater off and unplug when not in use for prolonged periods.
  • Do not leave a portable infrared heater unattended while operating. Keep kids and pets away.
  • Never place clothing or other objects on top of the heater.
  • Check that your heater comes with a grille to prevent contact with the heating element. Do not remove safety grilles or guards.
  • Do not use in bathrooms or other wet, humid locations to prevent electric shock and fires.
  • Verify the size of room your unit can properly heat. Overloaded heaters pose risks.

Infrared Space Heater Maintenance

While infrared space heaters require less maintenance than central heating systems, some periodic upkeep is recommended:

  • Clean the exterior surface gently with a duster or vacuum to remove accumulated dust and dirt.
  • Wipe down any plastic or metal housing with a soft cloth. Avoid harsh cleaners.
  • Inspect the power cord and plug for damage. Fraying or cracked cords should be replaced.
  • Check heating elements and reflectors for dirt buildup. Use a vacuum with brush attachment to clean.
  • Replace any worn or broken components like handles. Contact the manufacturer regarding replacement parts.
  • For portable heaters, inspect the base or legs and check that rubberized feet are intact.
  • Verify that all control knobs, dials, and buttons are functioning properly.
  • Test tip-over and overheat safety features by powering on and simulating tipping over. The heater should automatically shut off.
  • For fireplace inserts and wall-mount heaters, check for debris around vents and clean as needed.

Proper cleaning and maintenance will improve performance and extend the operating life of your infrared space heater. Always consult the product manual as well for any specific maintenance recommendations.

Infrared Space Heater Energy Efficiency

One of the advantages of infrared heaters is their high level of energy efficiency for zone heating. The focused infrared waves warm objects rather than wasting energy trying to heat the whole room. Here are factors that make infrared space heaters energy-efficient:

Targeted Heating

Since infrared heaters warm people and nearby objects directly, they avoid trying to heat vacant areas of the room. This precise directional heating maximizes efficiency.

Adjustable Thermostats

Many infrared space heaters include adjustable thermostats that turn the unit on or off when the set temperature is reached. This prevents energy waste from overheating.

Smaller Heat Output

The heating capacity tailored for personal spaces instead of whole houses requires less energy input. Units designed to heat 200 square feet use much less energy than a 5,000 BTU furnace.

Modern Elements

Advanced carbon, quartz, and ceramic heating elements maximize infrared waves produced per watt of electric power, thereby increasing efficiency.

Insulated Housing

Enclosed housings with inlet and outlet grilles prevent heated air from dissipating outwards instead of towards the room. This insulated design improves heat direction.

Lower Standby Power

Infrared heaters without fans generally draw very little power on standby when not actively heating. This saves energy compared to always-running central furnace fans.

Infrared Heaters vs. Convection Heaters

Infrared space heaters provide an efficient heating method focused on warming people and objects rather than the surrounding air itself. This contrasts with convection heaters that heat by raising air temperature:

Heating Method

  • Infrared heaters use electrified elements (ceramic, quartz) to produce infrared waves that are absorbed by people/objects.
  • Convection heaters use coils, fins, or burning fuel to heat air directly via airflow convection.

Heat Distribution

  • Infrared heat is directed radiation warming objects in line-of-sight of the heater.
  • Convection distributes heat around a room via air currents and raising air temperature.


  • Infrared heaters provide nearly instant radiant heat you can feel quickly.
  • Convection heating takes longer to warm up as the unit heats the air over time.


  • Infrared heaters use less energy by avoiding overall air heating and offering targeted heating.
  • More energy is required for convection heating to raise air temperatures.


  • Infrared warmth feels consistent like sun exposure. Convection can cause hot and cold zones.
  • Convection provides overall ambient warmth. Infrared effects diminish away from the heater beam.


  • Infrared heaters pose a contact hazard but low fire risk. Convection heaters carry higher fire risks.
  • Convection heaters distribute heat more evenly, preventing hot spots. Infrared has intense direct heat.

In summary, infrared delivers focused warmth great for personal heating while convection offers wider ambient heating better for whole rooms. Combination heaters provide the advantages of both technologies.

Infrared Patio Heaters

Infrared heaters are not just for indoor use. Patio infrared heaters can extend the use of outdoor spaces into colder weather. They provide targeted warming for comfort during chilly evenings on the patio.

How Infrared Patio Heaters Work

Infrared patio heaters use the same radiant heating principles as indoor models but on a larger scale. Reflectors, typically aluminum, direct infrared waves generated by propane or electric heating elements downwards over an expanded area. The infrared energy warms people, furniture, and floor surfaces on the patio. Since infrared does not rely on air heating, the heat can penetrate breezes. Ceramic and quartz emitters are common for electric patio heaters while propane models use a gas burner with a ceramic emitter surface.

Infrared Patio Heater Benefits

  • Provide instant, directional warmth outdoors without heating empty space
  • Allow use of patios year-round in colder weather
  • Warmer than ambient air, penetrating breezes
  • Focus heating on seating/dining areas
  • Freestanding mobile units can be positioned as needed
  • Fuel options of electric or propane gas
  • Adjustable heat output on some models
  • Outdoor-rated sturdy and weatherproof designs

Infrared Patio Heater Positioning

To maximize infrared patio heater effectiveness:

  • Place centrally over the seating/dining area
  • Position the heater 7-8 feet above the ground
  • Angle the heater towards wherever people will be sitting
  • Allow 15-20 feet of clearance to the seating area perimeter
  • Keep away from trees/plants as heat can scorch leaves
  • Use two smaller heaters on larger patios for more coverage

With proper placement focused on your patio furniture and gathering space, an infrared patio heater can make spending evenings outdoors comfortable even when temperatures drop. Position the heater for optimal directional infrared warmth right where people will be sitting or dining.

Infrared Sauna Benefits

Infrared saunas are a variety of sauna that use infrared lamps emitting infrared radiation to heat the body directly rather than warming the surrounding air. The radiant infrared heat penetrates the body to provide a range of health and wellness benefits:


The deep penetration of infrared heat raises internal body temperature causing heavy sweating. This induces a robust detoxification effect by expelling toxins and heavy metals from the sweat glands. Studies show regular use can reduce toxins including lead, mercury, sulfuric acid, sodium, and cholesterol.

Stress Relief

The warmth of an infrared sauna melts away tension and provides soothing pain relief. Infrared wavelengths have been shown to reduce cortisol levels and decrease soreness. Just 20 minutes can provide stress relief benefits similar to an hour-long traditional sauna session. The lower temperatures are gentler as well.

Heart Health

Infrared exposure activates the body’s parasympathetic system, lowering blood pressure and reducing strain on the heart. Improved blood flow and circulation provide a beneficial cardiac workout. Using a sauna a few times per week has been linked to improved cardiovascular function.

Pain Relief

The penetrating heat of infrared waves provides natural pain relief by reducing inflammation and soothing muscle and joint aches. Infrared effectively targets soreness, making it popular for easing arthritis, back pain, chronic fatigue, and athletic recovery. Pain relief benefits last for hours after use.

Weight Loss

Sweating out water weight during an infrared sauna session is an effective short-term weight loss booster. The increased calorie burn continues for an extended period following use as metabolism remains elevated. Regular infrared sauna use can help burn 200-600 extra calories per session.

Skin Purification

Infrared wavelengths penetrate skin to purge dirt and impurities from pores. The induced sweating cleanses the outer skin layer. Improved circulation brings fresh nutrients and oxygen to skin cells for a healthy, glowing complexion. Skin conditions like acne, eczema, and rosacea benefit.

Immune System Boost

Heating the tissues several degrees with far-infrared waves has been found to activate the body’s immune response. This gives a boost to the immune system against viruses and infections. The overall detoxification provides anti-aging cellular rejuvenation as well.

Infrared saunas provide a wealth of health advantages without excessive air heat or humidity. Just 20-30 minutes a few times per week can provide cardiovascular, detox, pain relief, relaxation and skin benefits.

Infrared Heating Panels FAQs

Infrared heating panels are an energy-efficient option for providing supplemental zone heating in a room. Here are frequently asked questions about infrared panels:

How do infrared heating panels work?

Infrared heating panels use electrified carbon fiber sheets to emit safe, clean infrared heat that warms people and objects rather than the surrounding air. The thin panels can mount on walls or ceilings.

What are the benefits of infrared panels?

They offer targeted heat, efficiency, aesthetics, and design flexibility. Panels heat rooms 20-40% more efficiently than convection or forced air heating. Wall-mounted panels are discreet and customizable to room decor.

How much heat do infrared panels provide?

Panel heat output ranges from 200-1000 watts typically. Longer panels generate more heat. Panels can heat small bathrooms or complement a main heating system in living rooms or bedrooms.

What size of room can infrared panels heat?

Many factors determine heating capability. In general, a medium 350 watt, 48″ panel can heat up to 150 square feet as supplemental heat while a 700 watt, 80” panel can be primary heat for rooms around 400 square feet.

How do you install and use infrared panels?

Panels hardwire into a standard 120V outlet. Installation is comparable to a light fixture. Panels work instantly when switched on with no warm-up period. Thermostats provide automated on/off control.

Are infrared heating panels safe?

Yes, infrared panels use low voltage and emit harmless infrared waves with no emissions or smells. They never get hot or pose burn risks. Built-in timers prevent overheating. Infrared technology has a longstanding safety record.

Are infrared panels energy efficient?

Absolutely! By directly heating people and surfaces instead of air, 60-80% less power is required compared to forced air heating. Panels have efficacy ratings around 95% vs. 60-70% for furnaces.

Can you use infrared panels with other heat sources?

Yes, infrared panels complement existing heating systems by providing additional heat exactly where needed. You can install panels in bedrooms and bathrooms to supplement central air duct heating.

Infrared heating panels provide an adjustable, healthy, highly energy-efficient heating option perfect for primary or supplemental zone heating. Contact a heating contractor to determine sizing and installation requirements.


Infrared space heaters offer an efficient, personalized method of heating small to medium-sized rooms in homes or offices. Infrared technology provides targeted heat that warms objects rather than just the surrounding air. Indoor and outdoor infrared heaters are available utilizing quartz, ceramic, or carbon heating elements to emit safe infrared waves.