Infrared fireplace and electric fireplace, a comparison

Infrared fireplace and electric fireplace, a comparison

Electric Fireplace vs infrared fireplace comparison featured image

How does Infrared Fireplace & Electric fireplace work?

It is obvious that the biggest similarity between the two is that they are both powered by electric as a source of energy. What doesn’t seem so obvious but makes a really big difference is the way both units deliver heat.

  • Electric fireplace: Like many other types of fireplaces, they work by manipulating the air temperature of the surrounding. It works by drawing in cool air through the vent. Then, the heating coil heats up the air and gently fan the hot air
  • Infrared fireplace: In contrast, infrared fireplace operates in a completely different manner. When an infrared heater is switched on, the unit will send out infrared rays. Infrared rays are heat particles that warm up and object directly. Think about it like a sun light, which we will feel hot just by being exposed to it. Infrared light waves frequency are very high that it cannot be seen by the naked human eye

How about their heating performance?

Heating performance feature image
  • Efficiency: Purely from an input-output perspective, they are both highly efficient. Electric fireplace and infrared both operates at 100% efficiency.
    Winner: Draw
  • Heat up time: However, electric fireplace employs a more indirect way to provide heat as compared to an infrared fireplace. Since they heat up the surrounding air to provide warm, depending on the size of the room it would take about 20-30 minutes to effectively heat up the room.

    In contrast, infrared fireplace provides heat almost instantly as they directly heat up the objects in the room
    Winner: Infrared

  • Heat Durability: Just as fast as infrared in providing warmth. They go away quickly as well after you turn it off. As a matter of fact, you can almost feel the absence of the heat source instantly after you turn it off.

    On the other hand, after you turn an electric fireplace off, the air will remain warm for a short duration. This is because the air carries heat, while infrared heat up objects directly.
    Winner: Electric Fireplace

  • Heating power: Electric fireplaces only heat up places where the fan of the fireplace could reach. Common electric fireplace in the market could heat up with an area from about 400 sqft to 1000 sqft.

    Infrared fireplace, however provides a better reach starting from 1000 sqft to 1800 sqft. This is because the mode of heat delivery are through infrared light rays.
    Winner: Infrared Fireplace

  • Heat quality: The technical name to describe the process of cold air going into the heating coil of electric fireplace and pass out hot air are called convection heating. During the process, moisture in the air will evaporate as well as the heating process occurs. Hence it will reduce the humidity of the environment.

    Infrared heat does not do the same, the heat particles only target objects, which includes your flooring and ceiling. The end result is a warm and overall more comfortable heated environment.
    Winner: Infrared Fireplace

    Having said that, keep in mind that infrared heaters only heat up objects that are directly in the heating beam’s path. Hence if your house is cluttered with too many objects in between, infrared fireplace might not be a sensible choice.

    In this case, a convection heating electric fireplace will be more practical for you.

Health concern

  • Air quality: As mentioned earlier, typical electric fireplace works by warming up the surrounding air. This means it inevitably remove the moisture and oxygen level in the room. For that reason, it may not be good for people that suffer for sinuses, and cough. The dry air lingering in the area may also remove moisture and dry out your skin. Consider investing in an air humidifier if you already own a unit and experiencing these issues.

    In this case, infrared heaters got the upper hand. Since it doesn’t lower the air quality of the surrounding area.
    Winner: Infrared Fireplace

  • Infrared rays concern: A recurring concern among buyers of infrared heaters is that if infrared ray causes cancer. It doesn’t, in fact it may help improve your health.

    Infrared rays are proven help improve people with their blood circulation. Also, not only it does not cause cancer, infrared rays also have been use in some cases to help treat cancer patients.

    Need not to worry if they would cause skin cancer, the misconception of this stems from people relating the infrared beams with Ultraviolet Rays (UV). Sunlight includes all kinds of light beams including UV rays. Though they both cannot be seen from a naked eye, the nature of both rays falls in a completely opposite spectrum.

    Infrared refers to a type of light rays with waves lengths that are too long to be visible. On the other hand, UV rays refers to those with waves length that are too short to be visible. Obviously, while UV rays may be harmful, it is not the same for infrared rays
    Winner: Infrared Fireplace

Cost comparison

Cost Comparison- Graph
  • Price: From a product cost point of view, they cost more or less the same for similar specifications and product quality. The warranty period that most manufacturers provide are about the same – about 1 – 5 years.
    Winner: Draw
  • Cost to run: According to The Green Age, Infrared heaters are about 40% more efficient than a conventional electric heater. Electricity energy bill are calculated by Kilo Watt Per Hour (KWh). For 2 similar units that provides 5000 BTUs of heat at 800 Sqft. Infrared Heater would use about 0.5KWh and Electric fireplace would consume at the rate of 1.2KWh.
    Winner: Infrared Electric Fireplace

Safety

  • Cool to touch: Both electric fireplace and infrared fireplace surface are cool to touch. However, the vent that electricity and the coil of infrared heaters will get hot during operation. It is important to follow each manufacturer’s safety guideline to avoid any accidents.
    Winner: Draw

All things considered, both types of fireplaces are excellent choice as a supplementary heater for your home considering the environment, safety, health, cost and benefits of added ambiance to your home. What’s important is to figure out your needs and carefully plan out which would be the best fit for your home.

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