Infrared Heat Explained
How Does Infrared Heat Work ?
Feeling the sun on your face, the heat given off from a log fire, the warmth from a hug. These are simple examples of infrared heat. Infrared heat is radiant heat. Infrared has been used by man since the beiginning of time as a heat source, the cavemans fire, the Romans sauna, it is a very efficient and simple form of heating.
The principle is that an energy source creates heat (eg log fire), the heat is in fact infrared waves. The infrared waves travel through the air and when they touch an object they release heat energy, the heat energy excites molecules which form the object. The excited molecules vibrate and in the process warm up.
All objects, including living organisms (people and animals), give off and absorb heat. The question is which way does the heat travel – it is proven that the heat energy always is given off by the hotter object and absorbed by the colder object.
The personal feeling of warmth has little to do with the temperature of the air around you, the main factor is which is the hotter object, you or the objects in the environment around you. So if you are in lying in a hot bath and stand up in a cold bathroom the heat of your body will quickly radiate out of you to the cold objects in the room and you will very quickly feel cold.. in seconds! Conversely you walk your shivering body from the cold bathroom into the room where a log fire has been burning for 10 minutes and all the objects in the room including the fire will radiate their heat into you.
Types of Infrared Heat
Infrared energy travels as waves, and the waves come in wavelengths, all the wavelengths are known as the spectrum. It a wide spectrum, which is split into 3 main categories.
Shortwave/Near Infrared: this is hot energy, the body has developed mechanisms to protect itself from short wave infrared. Shortwave is used for industrial drying applications, melting, paint drying and quartz space heating.
Medium, or middlewave, not as hot as infrared shortwave. Middle wave can be absorbed by the skin, there is a wide range of medium wave heaters which are mainly used for industrial and outside applications.
Longwave or Far infrared. Easily absorbed by the skin and used in heating panels and space heaters for homes for comfort heating. Also used by hospitals in incubators to keep newborn infants warm.
For more details on Infrared wavelength analysis go HERE.
Why we think the future for heating is infrared go HERE.