Traditional or infrared heating: which to choose?
Nowadays it is essential to make careful choices about which heating system to use, keeping one eye on your pocket and the other on the environment. Traditional heating is definitely a good solution, but are we sure it’s the best? Wouldn’t it be better to switch to infrared heating? How do they work? Let’s look briefly at the features.
- Heating: energy efficiency, environment and costs
- Traditional heating
- A better choice for everyone: the infrared lamp
Heating: energy efficiency, environment and costs
Today’s technological developments mean there are many solutions available to meet the same need. When these choices deal with issues related to the environment and energy, an informed choice needs to be made. We are increasingly sensitive to the issue of climate change and the need to act, starting small, to improve the energy efficiency of our lives. A first step in making our contribution is to make choices that improve the use of energy for heating homes, workplaces or recreation spaces. Furthermore, the cost of fossil fuels, the primary source of traditional heating, is constantly increasing, causing an increase in total heating costs.
Traditional heating is present in homes, offices and commercial activities. Traditional heating systems are composed of classic wall-mounted radiators of various shapes and materials, which are in turn connected to a boiler by copper pipes.
By its nature, the cost of traditional heating is closely linked to the market price of fossil energy sources (e.g. gas). Precisely to counter the fluctuation in price of the main energy source of traditional heating, and to reduce its environmental impact, from September 2015 the EU has forced companies to produce and market only condensing boilers. These boilers recover part of the heat emitted during combustion. Good progress has also been made in radiator development. The radiator is the final element that transfers heat to the environment to be heated. Today, radiators are made of cast iron, steel, and aluminum, and are increasingly efficient.
Considering these developments, and the increasing use of timer-thermostats, it would seem that traditional heating today respects the environment and reduces costs. In reality there are some aspects that must be considered, relating to how the heat is introduced into the environment. Radiators and underfloor heating heat the environment via the air. The heat is thus transferred from the radiator to the air and only afterwards to the environment and, above all, to the people present. Here the most obvious flaw of traditional heating systems emerges: no matter how developed they are, there will always be a certain amount of energy (heat) that will be dispersed or that will heat up unwanted surfaces. In this way, both spending and pollution will be greater than necessary.
A better choice for everyone: the infrared lamp
It is becoming increasingly common to see heating systems with infrared lamps in rooms or outdoors.
Infrared panels emit electromagnetic waves that become heat only when they come into contact with a solid body. The material used to make the infrared lamps is black ceramized aluminum, which is the material that emits the most infrared rays.
An infrared lamp does not give heat to the air, avoiding any heat dispersion. Energy efficiency is so high, only the people, objects and surfaces required are heated. Heating takes place by radiation, through a direct interaction between the heat source and the body to be heated, without passing through the air. The path taken by the heat is therefore not source of heat – air – body to be heated, but is a direct path of heat source – body to be heated. Thanks to this system, an infrared lamp resolves another serious flaw in traditional heating: the movement of hot air from high to low. In this way even the heating of spaces with high ceilings (gyms, churches, swimming pools) or outdoor locations, often problematic, is much faster and more efficient.
When the infrared lamp is on, the ideal temperature is reached quickly, further reducing waste and costs. Taking advantage of the radiation, the heat produced is instantly transferred from the heater to the heated, literally at the speed of light.
Furthermore, if the rays produced by an infrared lamp meet a hot object, which in turn emits infrared rays, the energy consumption is automatically reduced.
A further aspect which makes an infrared lamp better than a classic radiator is the heater’s lack of heat loss. Part of the heat produced by the radiator is always transferred to the wall on which it is installed, while an infrared lamp gives out the vast majority of its heat to the environment to be heated.
Modern infrared lamps are equipped with a light variator, which allows energy consumption to be optimized when maximum power is not required. Some infrared lamps are also equipped with automatic sensors that activate them only in the presence of a person. This function increases energy efficiency, and once again savings, for the heating of those rooms, such as closets, which are often empty.
The infrared lamp, compared to a traditional heating system using radiators, has a much greater range of user environments. It is an efficient and complete but also smart heating method. It does not require the installation of pipes, radiators, or boilers, needing only a connection to the electricity network. This feature makes infrared heating ideal for outdoor heat diffusion, simply impossible with traditional heating. A radiator creates soot, dust, mold or condensation that affect the walls of the environment where it is installed, while an infrared lamp does not.
As mentioned above, infrared lamps are smart: both because they are simple and quick to install, and because they can be easily managed by smartphone. In fact, modern infrared heaters are often equipped with Bluetooth devices that give 360° control.
Finally, since appearances also count, current infrared lamps are more aesthetically pleasing than radiators, which in any case constitute a cumbersome installation. They can be mounted on walls, ceilings, beams or can be readily placed on a free-standing base, becoming an item of furniture in their own right.
In short, heating via infrared lamps is clearly better than traditional heating. Less dispersion of calorific energy means less pollution and significantly lower costs for heating the home, work environment or commercial premises, internal or external. Truly a better choice for everyone.