The infrared vs ceramic heater debate has been heating up between people who use space heaters. In terms of efficiency, both these types of heaters are pretty capable. So how does a person make a comparison between them?
Well, that’s where I come in. I’m rather sensitive to the cold and always need a heat source to keep my extremities toasty warm. I’ve used both infrared and ceramic heaters for a while and know for sure their pros and cons. In fact, I can also give you pointers on how to use them best.
Before going into a serious ceramic heater vs infrared discussion, you need to know more about the different heaters, specifically space heaters. We’ll also delve into the specific characteristics of infrared and ceramic heaters, and lastly, talk about the safe use of space heaters. Let’s go!
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Portable Heaters- What Are the Types?
Sometimes even after your house is centrally heated, you just want to sit down on a cozy armchair and soak up some more heat. That’s where space heaters come in. Small wood stoves are sometimes used for this purpose, but modern homes use more modern heaters. Among the modern heaters used to warm smaller spaces, you can mostly find 6 distinct types. They are:
- Ceramic Space Heaters
- Infrared Space Heaters
- Fan Space Heaters
- Oil-filled Space Heaters
- Propane Space Heaters
- Panel Space Heaters
All these heaters work in rather fascinating ways, and I could honestly talk for hours about them. However, since we’re talking about infrared vs ceramic heater today, let’s learn about these two types in detail:
Infrared heaters heat objects by emitting infrared radiation. The process is much like how we feel warm after stepping into a beam of sunlight. Therefore, the feeling of warmth from an infrared heater is also quite natural. Most other space heaters work by heating the air around the machine, and some use a fan to deliver that heat in a specific direction.
Some heat tends to be lost in this process. However, since an infrared heater delivers heat directly to an object, 100% heat is utilized. If you place a couch in front of the heater, it will absorb the heat. The same goes for any other object you place in front of it. You can even directly sit in front of it and warm yourself.
- Heats objects, not the air, so efficiency is 100%
- The housing doesn’t get warm after working, so it’s less dangerous
- Some of the models look modern and blends in with furniture
- Even after it is turned off, the heat doesn’t immediately dissipate
- Most models are rather heavy
- Quite expensive compared to other space heater types
- Heat is one-directional
Ceramic heaters use ceramic heating coils. This type of convection heater has ceramic heating plates and aluminum heating coils that dissipate heat to the surroundings. Some ceramic heaters have fans that help push the heat further from the heating element.
More efficient than radiant heaters for heating large areas, especially the models equipped with a fan. These are more affordable than other heaters, and manufacturers claim that they also use less electricity. They’ve become known to be exceptionally efficient, as ceramic is a great heating source.
- This type of heaters tend to be compact and lightweight
- Ceramic heats up fast, so you can enjoy warmth instantly
- The plates keep giving off heat even after turning off the machine
- Heat transfer can be blocked by physical objects
- Unless a fan is involved, it can’t heat an ample space
Now that you understand these two types of heaters let’s start the ceramic heater vs infrared battle.
Infrared vs Ceramic Heater
As they are both space heaters, let’s pick out some features and see how infrared and ceramic heaters fare against each other in those criteria.
1. Heating Area
While some ceramic heaters come with a fan, some can also be without a fan. The ones equipped with a fan can heat a space quickly. On the other hand, those without a fan heat a space slowly, and they’re also suitable for smaller spaces. Moreover, if you want your ceramic heater to direct heat to a specific area, you can also do that with a model that has a fan.
In this sense, if you’re looking to heat a space efficiently, it’s a good choice. On the other hand, while infrared heaters are also efficient at heating a particular area, their use is much more specific. If you have a poorly insulated space where no matter what heater you’re using, the heat slips away, you can benefit from an infrared heater.
The very nature of an infrared heater means it doesn’t heat the air. So even if the insulation is inadequate, it wouldn’t matter because the object you want heated will retain heat anyway. Moreover, it’s also 40% more efficient in heating than any other type of space heater.
This is a criterion where ceramic heaters win out. Ceramic heaters have a pretty small and compact heating element. Moreover, This makes the heater easy to move around. You can just take it to a room that needs more heating.
On the other hand, infrared heaters aren’t as light, compact, or portable. Some of them are designed to look like small fireplaces, much like electric fireplace TV stands. But if you want a portable heater, either get a ceramic heater, or an infrared heater that has wheels, so moving it isn’t a big deal.
You should know how to use a wood stove safely if you have one in your house. Similarly, you should know about the safety precautions of using modern heaters as well. If your house has children or pets, infrared heaters are more suitable, making them less of a fire hazard.
Infrared heaters have housing that doesn’t heat up when it’s running. This means you wouldn’t accidentally burn yourself if you touch it. However, that doesn’t mean ceramic heaters are less safe. This type of heater often comes with overheat protection. Therefore, it’s less likely to become a fire hazard.
Infrared heaters, especially the ones without a fan, are relatively silent. There’s no constant white noise coming from this type of heater. However, if you’re used to sleeping in complete darkness, an infrared heater might not be the choice for you as it gives off an orange glow when running.
On the other hand, as ceramic heaters often come with a fan, they can be rather noisy. You can invest in one with an exceptionally quiet fan or a bladeless one, but it’s going to cost you.
All things considered, ceramic heaters tend to be slightly less expensive than infrared heaters. Infrared heaters are more expensive upfront. Moreover, they’re also expensive in terms of energy consumption. While it won’t cause a major uptick in your energy bills, you might want to invest in a ceramic heater instead of cutting down on energy expenses is what you’re after.
How to Safely Use Space Heaters
Whether it’s a ceramic or infrared heater, you need to make sure it’s safe to use in your home, especially if you plan on using it overnight or for long hours. Here are some safety precautions you might want to take-
- Pick heaters that are programmed to shut off automatically once they’re heated to a certain degree. This will prevent overheating.
- Opt for buying heaters that pass U.S. safety standards.
- Please don’t buy one without ensuring it has been tested by a legit laboratory and passed quality control.
- Check the product carefully for any abnormalities, such as cracks or bumps. Especially, check the plug and connecting wires. If the wires look to be in anything other than pristine condition, do not use the unit. It might pose a severe risk.
- Even if your space heater comes with safety features, do not let children or pets near it. Moreover, please keep it away from anything flammable.
- Try not to leave a heater running unattended or while you’re asleep.
- It’s always best to plug your heater into a wall outlet. Do not use an extension cord.
- If you’re using a heater equipped with a fan, make sure to shut the doors, windows, and any other outlets, so the heat doesn’t escape.
- Using thick curtains also helps with insulation and keeping the heat in.
As I always say, you can’t determine if one thing is better than the other for everyone. Even as we discuss the merits of infrared vs ceramic heaters, it’s safe to say that the best type of heater depends on your needs. My suggestion is, take into consideration your heating requirements and budget. If you want to heat a small space, an infrared heater would be sufficient.
But if you want to heat a large area, a ceramic heater with a fan would be better. When it comes to budget, think long-term. You have to think about the buying cost of the heater, as well as the monthly electricity bill that you’ll have to pay. So refer to your budget carefully before you make a choice.