Why Choose Infrared Radiant Heat for Your Garage or Shop?
Whether you have a small garage or shop space or a large manufacturing plant or warehouse, infrared heaters are not only more efficient, they also provide a much more comfortable atmosphere than conventional forced air heating systems.
So what is an infrared heater?
An infra-red heater is simply a hot surface heating appliance which, like our own sun, emits radiant (infrared) wave energy to surfaces below. Upon striking surfaces or objects, the energy converts to heat to warm the surrounding air.
Think about it. The sun does not heat the air. The sun heats the earth and the earth heats the air. That same infrared heating principle is a practical and effective way to heat building spaces. In an aircraft hangar, for example, multiple infrared heaters can be suspended from the ceiling with the emitters directed toward the floor below. The heaters are spaced appropriately to create heat uniformity and optimum comfort.
What are the benefits of using infrared?
Infrared energy heats from the ground up. Even though the infrared heaters are mounted up high (near the ceiling in most cases), the energy they emit does not convert to heat until it strikes floors and objects at ground level. Heat is then stored and re-radiated to the surrounding air. The result is warm floors, warm feet, and better use of energy.
By contrast, forced air heating depends on the principle of warm air stratification. Using the aircraft hangar example, warm air must stratify from high up at the ceiling level all the way down to floor level. The result is cold floors, cold feet and wasted heat energy at the upper half of the building.
In addition to greater creature comfort, infrared heating systems can save as much as 50% or more in energy consumption compared to most forced air systems such as unit heaters.
Is infrared practical in my small garage or workshop?
Yes. In fact, there are several good garage infrared heaters designed specifically for heating small shops and even residential garages from 300 to 900 square feet and low ceiling heights.
One manufacturer even offers a small vent free high intensity garage infrared heater that comes with a wall mounting bracket, thermostat and thermostat wire. All you need to do is hang the heater and run the gas line. No electrical is required. They do emit a bit of humidity, however, because they are vent free.
The other option is an infrared radiant tube heater. This is a vented heater and is better suited to woodworking shops and for spaces 600 to 1200 square feet. Because it is vented, no humidity enters the space.
While infrared heaters can save consumers as much as 50% in energy usage, the one benefit that gets overlooked most often is creature comfort. Years ago we designed an infrared tube heating system for a Cadillac car dealership. The service bays in the rear had been using forced air heaters to heat the space for over 20 years. As the heaters wore out, the owner decided he needed to upgrade.
The owner of the dealership called us in to offer an alternative heating system. With a bit of persuasion, we convinced him that an infra-red tube heating system would offer the best heating efficiency. And did it ever! He was able to save upwards of 60% on his average monthly fuel bill. His electric bill also declined substantially.
But the biggest benefit to the owner was improved comfort and a noticeable increase in employee productivity. One day the owner called and said "you know this damn heating system you sold us? It’s best thing ever"! He went on to explain that one of his best servicemen had always suffered from respiratory problems as a result of the cold, drafty air produced by the old forced air heating system. For the first time in years, this employee had not suffered through the cold winter.
You can’t put a price on that!
Scott Workman is owner and president Infra-Red Products Supply, Inc. of Draper, Utah. In business since 1986, Infra-Red Products has become recognized as a nationally recognized leader in energy saving heating system design and sales for residential, commercial and industrial consumers.