Infrared panels vs ceramic heaters: what’s the difference?

Infrared panels vs ceramic heaters: what’s the difference?

Infrared heating caters to spaces of all kinds, whether it’s a two-up two-down terrace or a draughty industrial unit – all you need to do is find the right heater for the job. There are two options for heating an interior with infrared: panels or ceramic heaters, but which is the right choice for you? Let’s find out…

Comparing infrared panels with ceramic heaters

It all boils down to a single question: are you heating a regular room or something substantially larger? Infrared panels are best for any ‘normal’ room, i.e. living rooms, kitchens or anywhere with a standard ceiling height. Whereas ceramic heaters are best for open-plan areas or rooms with high ceilings that are hard to keep warm. Here are the main differences at a glance:

Infrared panelsCeramic heaters
· Used in interiors with a standard ceiling height
· Emit far infrared
· Shorter heat spread
· Ultra-slim, elegant design
· For domestic & commercial spaces
· Plug-in installation available
· Unsuitable for outdoor use
· Surface temperature: 85 – 95 °C
· Used in spacious interiors that are hard to heat
· Emit longwave infrared
· Projects over larger areas
· Compact, discreet design
· For spacious domestic areas, as well as commercial & industrial applications
· Professional fitting only
· Can be used in some outdoor areas
· Surface temperature: 500 – 700 °C

They may be as similar as chalk and cheese in the looks department but they also differ in the type of heat they produce, so without further ado, let’s get stuck into the details.

How do they work?

Infrared panels and ceramic heaters both create warmth by using a length of resistive wire, which heats up and projects heat out into the room. However, the wire in ceramic heaters is thicker and reaches far higher temperatures compared to an infrared panel so they can create a stronger form of warmth. The ceramic in these heaters has excellent thermal emission qualities and is what allows them to diffuse heat effectively across spacious interiors.

In contrast, the wires in an infrared panel are much slimmer and spread out over a wider surface area, a little bit like a scaled-down underfloor heating system. By using a thinner wire spread out over a larger area, infrared panels can create effective warmth but with a much lower wattage, allowing them to have exceptionally low running costs.

Far infrared vs longwave infrared

So, just how different is the type of heat they emit? From an end user’s point of view, the sensation of their heat is virtually the same and provides a deep and lasting feeling of warmth throughout the day. But this doesn’t mean far infrared and longwave infrared are the same – far from it.

Ceramic heaters & longwave infrared

Longwave is a stronger form of infrared that’s robust enough to travel across spacious interiors and remain effective, so you can use it in places like warehouses, venues and churches to keep them efficiently heated. If you were to use panels in these places, they’d certainly struggle because their heat reach is significantly shorter and their far infrared too gentle to offset the chill of a poorly insulated building. Longwave infrared has the strength to reach where it’s needed but is still within the band of radiant heat that’s comfortable for use over long periods, so it’s fantastic for all-day heating.

Infrared panels & far infrared

Using a ceramic heater in a standard interior is like using a sledgehammer to crack a nut. You could do it in theory but it’s a bit of a heavy-handed approach considering these spaces don’t need that degree of intensity. Infrared panels are perfect for heating spaces with a ceiling height of 2.7m or less because, though their far infrared heat is much gentler, it will still reach every corner of the room without issue. Far infrared is also the exact same form of warmth emitted by the human body and provides the most comforting heat for everyday use. This makes it the natural choice for regularly used interiors where people need thoroughgoing heat around the clock.

Where can you use them?

While we could write down every single space these heaters would come in handy, the list would be endless so we’ve rounded up the main locations that suit infrared panels and ceramic heaters below:

Where to use infrared panelsWhere to use ceramic heaters
· Living rooms & bedrooms
· Bathrooms
· Kitchens
· Conservatories & extensions
· Schools & hospitals
· Hotels & student accommodation
· Offices
· Pubs & cafes
· Modern open-plan homes
· Mezzanine floors
· Church & barn conversions
· Halls & venues
· Warehouses & industrial units
· Garages & showrooms
· Leisure centres
· Hot yoga studios

Spaces that benefit from infrared heating panels

As mentioned in the list above, radiant panels are great for normal interiors like bedrooms and hallways but this doesn’t mean they’re limited to domestic use. They’re also a superb option for commercial or public applications like hotels, student accommodation and social housing, where they can provide efficient and cost-effective heating. Infrared mirror panels can be particularly beneficial for bathrooms because their deep heat keeps surfaces warm and deters damp from settling. Plus, their heated mirror exterior never fogs up, even after a hot shower – great if you’re last in line for the bathroom of a morning.

Even more uses for ceramic heaters

The robust warmth of a ceramic infrared heater allows them to warm even the loftiest interiors and they’re fantastic for retail, commercial and industrial spaces. What you might not know is that they’re also great for hot yoga studios because their stronger heat allows them to easily maintain the 45 °C temperature required. Ceramic heaters can be used outside when installed in areas with good shelter and can provide comfortable heat for spaces like restaurant terraces, alfresco bars and beer gardens.

Programming & control

Both types of heating system are controlled in exactly the same way, using external thermostats to increase efficiency. Programmable thermostats let you create a custom heating schedule for the panels or ceramic heaters in your system so that they’re only heating at the times dictated by your program. You can set them to run around your business hours or create a separate schedule for each area of your property to maximise energy savings. The one small caveat that we would give is that ceramic heaters with particularly high wattages may not be compatible with every type of thermostat. We definitely advise checking that the maximum load of the thermostat can cope with the wattage of your chosen ceramic heater. If you’re ever in doubt, our customer service team will be able to point you in the right direction.

Two types of heater, one efficient way to keep warm

The fact that these two heater types are so different yet both use the same basic method of heating speaks volumes about the versatility of infrared. It can be used just about anywhere for energy-efficient and effective warmth, so if you’re ready to start your journey into low cost heating, browse our range today.