Infrared heat waves are long electromagnetic waves located near the visible electromagnetic spectrum and give off a large amount of heat.
The most common heating element in electric infrared heaters is made of coiled tungsten wire. Tungsten maintains its strength at high temperatures and has a high melting point, making it an ideal material choice for a heating element.
When the heating element is surrounded by a quartz glass tube, the heater is also known as a tube heater or a quartz heater. Around the heating element is a reflective surface that can be used to control the flow of infrared waves in the direction of required heat.
Infrared waves give off radiant heat which, when reflected from the reflective component of the heater, is absorbed by objects and surfaces without needing a transport medium such as air molecules. Infrared heat can penetrate materials and gases more easily than typical convection heaters and UV light, and can be used in a wide variety of applications.
Common uses of electric infrared heating include: room or space heaters, industrial applications such as plastic welding, drying of coatings and glass processing, animal care in zoos and veterinary clinics and in medical treatments.
As there are no burning fuels in electric infrared heaters, harmful fumes are not being emitted into the environment, making infrared heating an environmentally friendly choice. There are typically less health risks than in other methods of heating due to not burning fuels. Infrared heaters do not produce high volumes of carbon dioxide and so are not a major cause of oxygen and moisture removal from the air in the space they are heating, allowing electric infrared heaters to be used in applications such as livestock and residential heating. The overall temperature of the heating element is lower in infrared heaters than in conventional heaters, and thus there is a reduced risk of fires and burning.
Other safety features could include a protective covering over the heater composed of a material with the ability to withstand high temperatures. This will prevent contact with the source of heat and further reduce fire and burning risk. As infrared heaters do not rely on air molecules to transport heat and instead actually heat the object, or the air, heating patterns are more uniform. With conventional heaters, there are often pockets of warm and cool air depending on convection currents within a space and this can create problems, especially in industrial processes which require more precision. Electric infrared heaters provide a uniform and economical heating option.