Electric fireplaces don’t have a real flame and so need another way to produce heat.
One of the ways an electric fireplace can produce heat is through using a form of heater known as an infrared heater, so what is an infrared electric fireplace?
An infrared electric fireplace is an electric fireplace that utilizes infrared heating technology to provide heat. Infrared heaters can typically provide more instantaneous heat and heat larger areas compared to conventional fan forced heaters.
While most of the electric fireplaces we own utilize fan forced heaters, our electric fireplace logs contains an infrared heater.
We’ve explained below what an infrared electric fireplace is in more detail below, as well as what the differences are between an infrared electric fireplace and a conventional fan forced electric fireplace, and which one is better.
What Is An Infrared Electric Fireplace?
Electric fireplaces don’t produce flames and heat using a real fire. Instead, the flames are typically created through using a combination of lights and rotating mirrors to imitate the look of flickering flames.
Electric fireplaces don’t have a real flame and so the heat must be generated through another means.
As electric fireplaces run on electricity, an electrical heater must be used to provide heat to a room. The most common types of heaters found in electric fireplaces include:
- Fan forced heater
- Infrared heater
Many electric fireplaces use the more conventional fan forced heating method to generate heat. In a fan forced electric fireplace, air is sucked in and passes over a heating element before being blown back out into the room.
Electric fireplaces may also use infrared heating technology to generate heat instead of using a fan forced heating system.
Infrared heaters use a quartz tube heater to generate the heat.
As the name suggests, an infrared electric fireplace gives out heat in the form of infrared light.
This type of heater can be found in our electric fireplace log set.
Fan forced electric fireplaces are typically able to heat areas of a home up to 400sqft, while you’ll be able to find that infrared electric fireplaces are generally able to heat rooms up to 1000sqft in area.
Furthermore, you’ll typically be able to feel the heat from an infrared electric fireplace more quickly than from a conventional fan forced electric fireplace when located across the room.
This is because the heat is radiated out into the room, rather than the air itself being warmed up as it passes through a heating element as found in a fan forced electric fireplace heater.
Although you can feel the heat much more quickly with infrared heaters, a downside of using infrared electric fireplaces is that the heat disappears as quickly as it starts.
Heat from an infrared electric fireplace won’t stick around for as long as a fan forced heater because the air itself hasn’t been warmed up as much.
We discuss more about the pros and cons of infrared heaters further in this article.
Are All Electric Fireplaces Infrared?
Not all electric fireplaces use infrared heaters. It can be more common to find fan forced heaters in electric fireplaces compared to infrared heaters, especially in the lower cost models. Some electric fireplaces may not have any form of heater altogether.
As an example, we have 4 electric fireplaces in the house and 3 of them use fan forced heaters while 1 uses an infrared heater.
The type of electric fireplaces that we own that use fan heaters rather than infrared heaters include:
- Electric fireplace insert
- Electric stove
- Wall mounted electric fireplace
The electric fireplace that we own that uses an infrared heater rather than a fan forced heater is a set of electric fireplace logs.
See our article on electric fireplace logs for more information about the electric fireplace log sets that use infrared heaters.
Infrared Fireplace vs Electric Fireplace – What Is The Difference?
An electric fireplace is a type of fireplace that produces heat from electricity.
The main difference between an electric fireplace and an infrared fireplace is that conventional electric fireplaces use fan forced heating elements for heating while infrared electric fireplaces use infrared technology for heating.
An infrared fireplace is still an electric fireplace, but an electric fireplace may also use a fan forced heater rather than an infrared heater.
It can be common to see electric fireplaces producing heat through the use of a conventional fan system forcing air over a heating element to provide heat to a room.
It’s a simple concept used by many space heaters and is a cheap and effective way to heat a small room.
The main components of a fan forced heater found in an electric fireplace include:
- A blower fan
- A heating element
As an example, our electric fireplace stove uses this conventional fan forced heating system.
It works by pulling in air and forcing it out the front of the fireplace through a heating element. The longer the fireplace is on, the warmer the air within the room becomes.
Electric fireplaces that utilize this fan heating system can typically only heat areas up to 400sqft. It also takes a while for a room to heat up (we tested how long it takes here), but the warmth can be retained within the room for a short while after the fireplace is turned off.
Instead of a fan forced heater, some electric fireplaces use an infrared heater to generate heat.
An electric fireplace that has a heater will only use one type of heater – fan forced or infrared, and not both.
An infrared electric fireplace emits infrared light that you can feel the warmth of on your body. There’s no fan in an infrared electric fireplace and so it can have a quieter operation compared to fan forced electric fireplaces.
The benefit of infrared heating is that you can feel the warmth much more quickly because the air within the room doesn’t need to be heated up. On the downside the warmth from the room can be lost more quickly when turned off compared to when using fan forced electric fireplaces.
Infrared heaters can also typically heat a larger area of up to 1000sqft.
These added benefits of infrared heating means that infrared electric fireplaces can be more expensive to buy compared to conventional fan electric fireplaces.
Infrared Or Electric Fireplace – Which Is Better?
Infrared electric fireplaces can be a better form of heating compared to fan forced electric fireplaces as they are typically able to provide heat more quickly, as well as typically being able to heat a larger area. However, infrared heaters are typically found in more expensive models of electric fireplace.
Infrared electric fireplaces use infrared technology to provide heat to a room, while other types of electric fireplace more commonly use a conventional fan forced heating system utilizing a heating element and blower to provide heat.
Infrared electric fireplaces can often heat a larger area and can provide heat more quickly compared to fan forced electric fireplaces, but on the downside aren’t able to retain as much residual heat within the room when turned off.
Electric fireplaces with infrared heaters are also typically more expensive compared to electric fireplaces that have fan forced heaters.
Therefore, if you’re looking to get the best heater with your electric fireplace, want to be able to heat a larger area of your home and don’t mind going for one of the higher priced fireplaces, an electric fireplace that uses an infrared heater might be the better choice for you.
If you only need to be able to heat a smaller room of up to 400sqft, don’t mind the extra fan noise, can wait a short while longer to feel the heat and don’t want to spend too much, look to get an electric fireplace that uses a conventional fan forced heating system.
We find that our electric fireplace that uses the infrared heater provides a more relaxing atmosphere compared to our other electric fireplaces that use fan heaters, but on the other hand the infrared electric fireplace was the most expensive one.
Types Of Infrared Electric Fireplace
Infrared heaters can be found in a range of electric fireplaces, including:
- Electric fireplace inserts
- Electric fireplace tv stands
- Electric stoves
- Electric logs
- Wall mounted electric fireplaces
- Standalone electric heater
If you’re after specific type of electric fireplace then you’ll be able to find an electric fireplace of that type that uses an infrared heater.
See our electric fireplace buying guides for more information.
Infrared Electric Fireplace Pros & Cons
|Infrared Electric Fireplace Pros||Infrared Electric Fireplace Cons|
|No fan noise||Need to be in line of heater|
|Typically heats a larger area||Typically found in more expensive electric fireplaces|
|Almost instant heat||Less residual heat after turning off|
Benefits Of Infrared Electric Fireplaces
The benefits of having an electric fireplace with infrared heating include:
- Infrared heaters can typically heat a larger area as you’ll typically be able to feel the heat from further away compared to fan heaters.
- No blower is used and so run extremely quietly.
- Almost instantaneous heat. It can take a short while for the infrared heaters to warm up but then you’ll feel the heat on your body straight away.
Downsides Of Infrared Electric Fireplaces
Although there are many upsides of having an infrared electric fireplace there are also a few disadvantages:
- Infrared heaters can typically be found in more expensive models of electric fireplace.
- Once an infrared electric fireplace is switched off, the heat doesn’t stay around for as long as it would with a fan forced electric fireplace.
- Ideally need to be in front of the heater or you won’t be making the most of it.
Parts Of An Infrared Heater In An Electric Fireplace
The main parts of an infrared heater found in an electric fireplace can include:
- The heating lamps
The heating lamps are the tubes that produce the heat.
The reflector forms the back of an infrared heater and helps to reflect the heat back out into the room.
Infrared heaters can get extremely hot to the touch and so the lamps are typically protected by a mesh guard for safety purposes.
An infrared heater in an electric fireplace will be controlled by switches or buttons.
In our infrared electric fireplace, there are two heater lamps that are independently controlled by two switches and so we can have none, one or two of the infrared heaters on at any time.
How An Infrared Electric Fireplace Works
Infrared electric fireplaces work by using infrared light to transfer the heat to objects located in front of the fireplace. Infrared light is absorbed by our body, which we feel as heat, much like how we feel the warmth of the sun on our body.
Infrared heaters in an electric fireplace can typically be controlled separately to the flame effects.
In our infrared electric fireplace the flame effects start when then unit is turned on at the electrical outlet plug.
The infrared heater in our fireplace doesn’t turn on immediately but there are two switches that independently control each heater tube.
Once an infrared electric fireplace is turned on, the infrared heaters will start to warm up.
It takes around 30 or 40 seconds for the infrared heaters in our electric fireplace logs to warm up and be producing the full amount of heat.
When we’re standing or sitting in front of this infrared electric fireplace we can feel the heat on our bodies.
Once the infrared heater is turned off the heater elements slowly glow down back to no glow and no heat being produced.
An infrared heater will still stay hot for a period of time after it has been turned off.
Do Infrared Fireplaces Have Fans?
Infrared electric fireplaces don’t have fans and so are much quieter than electric fireplaces that have fan forced heaters. Infrared heaters use infrared light heating technology to transfer the warmth to the room without the use of a blower.
Are Infrared Electric Fireplaces Safe?
Electric fireplaces can be considered to be a safer form of fireplace because there’s no real fire, and this includes infrared electric fireplaces. However, infrared electric fireplaces should always be used and maintained in line with the manufacturer’s guidelines and small children and pets kept away from the heater when in use.
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