How Does an Infrared Heater Work?

Last Updated on December 11, 2021

The infrared heater is one of the best and most natural ways to heat your home. Generating the same type of heat that we enjoy from the sun, an infrared knows how to keep you and your family nice and toasty.

But as natural as this method of heat absorption is, there is also a built-in air of mystery to it. How does an infrared heater work? That is a good question to be asking yourself if you’re thinking of adding one to your home.

It is also the exact matter that we will be addressing today. Read on to find out how an infrared heater works.

First, What is an Infrared Heater

Very good question. Infrared refers to much more than how heat is generated. In fact, it actually has more to do with how heat is absorbed.

Let’s start by comparing it to one of the most popular heating methods out there, the convection heater. With a convection system, you get something that will heat the air of the room that you are in. By proxy, you will enjoy some of that heat, but contact is a little bit randomized and sporadic.

It’s the opposite with the infrared heater. It’s not only the air that is being warmed, but you. Your body is naturally inclined toward absorbing infrared radiated heat, making this system extremely efficient.

Because of the way infrared heat is absorbed, these systems are also excellent for people who are seeking relief from arthritis or other painful conditions that are worsened by the cold.

The pros of these heaters are that they activate quickly, they operate quietly, and because they are all natural, there aren’t any serious health risks associated with them.

Unfortunately, however, they aren’t so great at heating large spaces. Infrared heat is absorbed via contact with the invisible light that the machine produces. If you’re not in contact with that light, you won’t absorb any heat.

As a result, you need to stand fairly close to an infrared heater to reap its benefits.

infrared heater

Image credit: aquila2664, Wikipedia

How Infrared Heaters Work

It’s not possible to make blanket statements about how an infrared heater works. This is simply because there is far too much variation for any broad claims to be accurate. That said, there are some basic elements that every infrared heating system will have.

Naturally, things start with a power source. The units might be powered by propane, natural gas, or electricity.

Like most other heaters, they also feature special heating elements that create warm infrared light, and reflector systems that project that light out over a limited radius to produce heat.

Some infrared heaters may also feature a fan to introduce a convection-like element as well, thus expanding the range of the machine.

Many infrared systems will also feature a thermostat so that users will be able to easily adjust the temperature to their satisfaction.


If you do research into infrared heaters (which you clearly are doing) you may encounter discussions pertaining to the safety of the light that the machines generate. People worry that infrared heaters can cause cancer, or eye damage.

However, current scientific findings do not indicate that this is the case. It is true that the infrared heater operates via a form of radiation, which can contribute to health complications.

However, it is also true that it’s the same radiation found in sunshine, but at a much smaller dose.

In other words, current data indicates that these heaters are no more dangerous than going out for a walk on a sunny day.


If you want to add a natural, effective form of heat into your house, there is no beating the infrared system. While these heaters don’t have the same range as convections, they make up for it with pure efficiency.