Feeling the sun on your face, the heat from a log fire, the warmth from a hug. These are simple examples of how infrared heat works. Infrared heat is radiant heat. Infrared has been used by man since time began as a heat source as it’s a very simple and efficient 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 that form the object. The excited molecules vibrate and in the process warm up.
All objects, including people and animals, give off and absorb heat. But which way does the heat travel? It is proven that heat energy is given off by the hotter object and absorbed by the colder object.
The personal feeling of warmth is not about the temperature of the surrounding air, but which is the hotter object; you or the objects in the environment around you.
So if you lie 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. You will feel cold.. in seconds! Conversely, when you walk your shivering body from the cold bathroom into the room where a log fire has been burning for 10 minutes, all the objects in the room including the fire will radiate their heat into you.
Infrared energy travels as waves, and the waves come in wavelengths, all the wavelengths are known as the spectrum. It has a wide spectrum, which is split into 3 main categories.
Shortwave/Near Infrared: this is hot energy, the body protects itself from short wave infrared. Shortwave is used for industrial drying applications, melting, paint drying and quartz space heating.
Medium, or middle wave, not as hot as infrared shortwave. Middle wave can be absorbed by the skin, there is a wide range of medium wave heaters that 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 babies warm.