What Is The Difference Between Infrared And Radiant Heat

When choosing a heating system for your home, you will have to decide whether infrared or radiant heat is proper for you. Some people prefer one over the other, and others like them both.

In this article, we’ll explore some of the differences between these two types of heating systems and help you make an informed decision about which one might be best suited to your needs.

What is an Infrared Heater?

There are three types of heaters: radiant, conventional, and infrared. A heater that uses infrared technology is an option to save energy costs. The most significant difference between this type of heater and other heating methods is that it heats objects instead of air via radiation.

This involves the transfer of energy directly through space by electromagnetic waves. It means you will find no hot or cold spots within a room because all objects can absorb the same amount of heat equally fast. However, some surfaces may end up hotter than others due to their inherent properties (e.g., color).

What is a Radiant Heater?

Radiant heating is one of the oldest types of home heating, dating back to the 1800s. A radiant heater uses hot surfaces to produce thermal radiation that warms objects in its path. This can be done with or without air movement.

The main benefit of using this type of system is even the heat distribution throughout a room. It’s also effective at warming people and objects without creating drafts. However, these units can be expensive to operate and maintain compared to other types of heaters.

Infrared vs. Radiant Heat: Which is Right for You?

Infrared and radiant heat are often confused, but they have a few key differences. Radiant heating warms the floor or object directly while infrared heats people or objects in front of it by emitting light waves. Infrared transfers through anything that emits heat so that an infrared heater can warm up to 400 feet around it with no loss of energy.

It’s also more efficient than radiant heating because you don’t lose energy moving through solid materials like walls. The downside is that infrared does not work well in windy areas because there isn’t any direct transfer between your body and the appliance itself. However, this will not be an issue if installed correctly since most high-quality models come with a built-in fan.

On the other hand, radiant heating is better at warming up an area quickly because it warms the air and the object directly in front of it. This also makes it more comfortable since warm air feels nicer than hot surfaces.

The downside to radiant heating is that it can be less efficient than infrared because you lose energy moving through the air; additionally, your heat will escape much faster if there’s a draft in the room.

So which one is right for you? It depends on your needs and what you value most. If you want something quick and efficient at warming up an area, go with radiant heating. If you want something that can penetrate through objects and is more efficient overall, go with infrared.

No matter which option you choose, make sure to do your research first and find a suitable model for your specific needs.

Why are Infrared and Radiant Heat the Same?

The terms “infrared” and “radiant heat” are often used interchangeably, but they refer to two different types of heating. Infrared radiation is a type of electromagnetic radiation that heats objects directly by causing their molecules to vibrate.

On the other hand, radiant heat is a type of thermal energy that travels through the air or space until it hits an object and causes it to warm up.

So why are infrared and radiant heat considered the same? The answer lies in how they both deliver heat to objects. In both cases, the heated object will absorb energy from its surroundings until its temperature rises to the point where it radiates heat back out.

This process goes on until the surrounding environment reaches equilibrium – that is, until the rate at which the object is absorbing energy equals the rate at which it’s radiating heat back out.

Both infrared and radiant heat will cause objects to warm up fairly quickly at room temperature. However, infrared radiation has a slight edge in efficiency since it doesn’t rely on air currents to carry thermal energy to its target.

This makes infrared radiation ideal for heating spaces with little or no airflow, such as enclosed patios or sunrooms. Radiant heat is better suited for areas that have regular airflows, such as kitchens and living rooms.

Pros and Cons of Infrared Heat

Like anything in the heating and cooling world, there are a few pros and cons of infrared heat.


  1. Instant Heating Sources: One of the biggest pros to using infrared heat is that it doesn’t take long for your space to warm up. This can be beneficial because if you are in a rush but still want your home warmed up quickly – infrared could be the right option for you!
  2. They Operate Quietly: If you are in a space where noise pollution is an issue, infrared heaters might be the solution for you. They operate quietly compared to other heating units and don’t cause as much of a disturbance in your workplace or home!
  3. Minimal Maintenance: Another pro to using infrared heat is that they don’t require much maintenance. Once you have them set up and running, you don’t have to worry about much else!
  4. Safer and More Environmentally Friendly: Infrared heaters don’t use combustion to create heat as traditional heating sources do. This means that they are safer for both you and your environment!
  5. Similar to Natural Sunlight: Infrared heaters give off a natural kind of warmth, similar to what you would feel standing outside in the sun on a nice day. This can be soothing and comfortable for some people!


  1. You Need to be Cautious: infrared heaters can burn you if they are left on for too long or in an unoccupied room. If the unit is accidentally turned off, it won’t come back on automatically after a power outage as other heating sources do.
  2. Heat Capacity: Another con to using infrared heat is that some people find that there isn’t enough to be effective throughout their home – significantly larger homes! This could lead to having two separate units, which would take up more space and cost more money over time!
  3. The Color Issue: Many people find that the light emitted by infrared heaters is very harsh and can be challenging to look at. This could be a con for you if you are sensitive to light!
  4. Easily Overlooked: If your heater ever malfunctions or doesn’t work correctly, this could go unnoticed for days because infrared heat is not an instant heating source like others on the market.
  5. May Expose Users to Skin Health Problems: Certain infrared waves have been linked to skin health problems. While this has not been proven yet, it is still something to be cautious about when looking for an infrared heater!

Pros and Cons of Radiant Heat

Radiant heat uses reflective panels that are attached to your walls or flooring to provide you with warmth throughout your home.

With that aside, some of the pros and cons of radiant heating are listed below.


  1. Uniform Heating: Radiant heating provides a more constant source of heat throughout your home, as opposed to infrared, which may only provide warmth in certain areas.
  2. Clean and Quiet: Unlike other heating systems, radiant heating creates a clean and quiet source of warmth that does not take much time to get used to.
  3. Efficient: Radiant heat does not require ducts or vents, making it a great source of warmth for those looking to reduce their carbon footprint.
  4. Retains Heat: With infrared heaters, you lose the heat immediately after turning them off. On the other hand, radiant heat will keep your home warm for a more extended period after it has been turned off.


  1. Difficult to Retrofit: Radiant heating can be challenging to retrofit into an existing home, as it requires the installation of specific panels to work correctly.
  2. Not Suitable for Every Room: Radiant heating is not suitable for every room in your house – only rooms that are regularly occupied will benefit from this type of heating system.
  3. Depends on a Boiler: Radiant heating relies on a boiler to function, which can be problematic for some homeowners. This implies that you will need to have a boiler installed in your home if you wish to use this type of heating system.

When to Use – Infrared vs. Radiant Heat

Infrared heaters offer a wide range of benefits and use. People can use them for residential and commercial spaces and industrial applications, including warehouses and manufacturing facilities! These units are powerful enough to keep large areas warm, but they’re also compact, so you don’t need tons of space in your home or business.

 Some people choose infrared over radiant because it’s more cost-effective, although many affordable options exist with either heating system. Radiant is another excellent choice if you’re looking for warmth all year long. Although radiant systems are more expensive than infrared, you’ll find that they’re well worth the initial investment.

Both types of heating work great for garages and workshops as well as basements, offices, and retail stores, not forgetting your homes.

Cost of Infrared vs. Radiant Heat

One of the first things people want to know when comparing infrared vs. radiant heat is cost. The good news is that both types of heating are relatively affordable, especially compared to some other home heating options. However, their costs will vary depending on several factors, including the size of your home and the type of equipment you choose.

Infrared Heating Costs

Infrared heating systems cost less to operate than traditional heating systems. The initial installation cost can’t be standard since it will depend on the size of your home and the type of infrared heating system you choose. However, in general, infrared heating systems are more affordable to operate than other heating systems because they use less energy.

Radiant Heating Costs

Unlike infrared heating systems, radiant heating can be more expensive to set up in your home. Radiant floor heat costs about $6 – $20 to install per square foot of coverage area. Radiant heating systems also use more energy than infrared heating systems, which can be more expensive to operate.

Overall, radiant heating costs less to set up but more to operate. A radiant heating system can be a great addition in regions that get lots of snow and ice every year or if you prefer all-natural flooring materials like wood and tile.

Infrared vs. Radiant Propane Heater

With enough knowledge of infrared heaters, let’s see whether radiant propane heaters are better or worse.

Radiant heaters come in different types: electric, natural gas, propane, and kerosene. The most popular type of radiant heater is the electric one. They are effortless to use, and you don’t have to worry about fumes or anything like that. You plug them into an outlet, and you’re good to go.

But when it comes to radiant propane heaters, they have a few benefits over electric heaters. For one, they are cheaper to operate. Second, they put out more heat than electric ones. And finally, they are much easier to move around from room to room. So, if you’re looking for a radiant heater that is cheaper to operate and puts out more heat, then a propane one is for you.


Radiant heating systems are best for homes where you want to warm up the entire floor. These types of heaters can also be used as an efficient way of saving money on your energy bills due to their low maintenance costs and high-efficiency ratings. Infrared heaters work well in smaller areas that only require a small amount of warmth at any given time.

They are best used as supplemental heating systems in your home, where radiant heaters can be cost-prohibitive or impractical to install. The small size of infrared heaters also allows them to be installed almost anywhere without taking up too much floor space.

In conclusion, both types of heating have their pros and cons. Radiant heating systems are great for when you want to heat an entire room or floor in your home, while infrared heaters work well in smaller areas that only require a small amount of warmth at any given time.