Are Infrared Heating Panels Hot to Touch?

Are infrared heating panels hot to touch?

Infrared heating panels can help warm you up, as well as objects around you over time. 

Unlike convection-based heaters, such as traditional radiators, that warm air particles and circulate around the room, infrared (IR) panels give off directional heat in the form of long-wave infrared radiation. 

Does this change the way the heaters warm up? Are they hot to the touch? And how hot do they get exactly?

In short, yes, the outside casing of infrared panels does heat up to high temperatures. The precise surface temperature of panels can vary depending on the specific product, but it’s safe to say they’ll feel hot to touch. 

However, because IR panels have lower ‘watt densities’ than equivalent heaters, you won’t burn yourself from quick touches and glances by. We’ll explain this and a few more important points on how hot panels get to the touch. 

How hot do infrared panels get?

When fully heated up, the surface of infrared heating panels can reach surface temperatures between 80-100°C.

This isn’t too dissimilar to a traditional metal-based, boiler-powered radiators – and if you’ve ever touched one of these radiators that’s on full blast, you won’t have touched it very long before your reflexes pull your hand away!

However, infrared panels heat up differently to traditional radiators that have very hot water running through them. 

Earlier versions of infrared heaters were heated with metal coils and wires that created resistance. Technology has moved on though and modern versions use heating elements made from advanced materials, such as carbon crystal and ceramics. 

These elements are housed in a protective metal casing, which is what you see when panels are installed on the wall or ceiling. More often than not, this casing is made from aluminium, which is a very good conductor of heat. It also means it can get hot to touch. 

Can you touch infrared heating panels when they’re turned on?

When infrared heating panels are turned on, they usually take between 3-10 minutes to reach full temperature

As the internal heating elements do their thing, the surface of the panels becomes hot. For this reason alone, it’s advised to avoid touching the panels while they’re on. 

However, as Herschel Infrared explain, it’s not necessarily the temperature of the item that’s the issue, but the heat energy within it. For example, aluminium foil doesn’t feel that hot even when it’s come straight out of the oven. This is because the material is very thin and has low heat energy stored in it. Our skin, thankfully, can deal with this. 

Infrared panels generally have large surface areas and moderate wattages. This gives them a lower heat energy or ‘watt density’ per cm2. When compared to the likes of a boiling kettle, the watt density of an IR panel can be around 200 times less! 

That’s not to say you can go around touching panels. It just means that your skin can absorb the lower heat energy and conduct it away, meaning it doesn’t feel scolding hot straight away. If you kept your hand on the panel it would, so please don’t do this. But for brushes past with your arm, you’ll be more than fine. 

Are infrared panels safe for children?

The general safety benefits with IR panels are that they don’t emit any emissions, can’t leak carbon monoxide and are better for people with allergies. 

Even with the good record of infrared panels, it’s still wise to put safety precautions in place when it comes to their temperature. This is especially true if you have curious young children and pets moving around the place – as I do! 

In terms of their temperature, infrared panels are no more dangerous for children than traditional radiators.

The advantage that infrared panels have is that they should be positioned higher up than radiators when wall-mounted. This is to give them a clearer view for the directional heating to work its magic on the occupants without being absorbed by sofas and furniture. It’s also why installing IR panels on the ceiling is the best option for maximum effectiveness – plus there’s no chance of children accidently leaning on them!

That said, some panels can still be within touching distance of little hands. This is also true for mobile IR panels that haven’t been permanently fixed to a wall or ceiling. Mobile panels should have a tip protection mechanism in place where they automatically turn off if they are knocked over.

When panels are in touching distance, education is best to make young children aware of the importance of not touching the panels. If the children are too young to understand, you should make sure they aren’t left alone in the same room as the panels or that they are switched off. 

The final safety point to be aware of is any electrical connections. Infrared panels can be wired directly into the wall with a fused spur switch or they can be plugged into a mains socket via a cord. The same basic safety principles apply here as do generally with children and electrics. 

Best for Households With Children and Pets

For households with children and pets, you’ll want to buy a good quality infrared panel that’s built to a high standard and can be controlled remotely. 

Here are some of the main safety features to look out for:

  • CE / UKCA Marking: Products marked with ‘CE’ (the EU version) or UKCA (the UK’s version post-Brexit) means they have been checked to conform with health, safety and environmental protection standards.
  • RoHS Compliant: Checked so that they don’t contain any materials on the restricted hazardous chemicals list.
  • Overheat Protection: Many panels are equipped with sensors that detect when the surface temperature exceeds safe levels, automatically shutting down to prevent overheating.
  • Smart control features: WiFi and Bluetooth integrations allows remote control and means you can set heating schedules for duration and desired temperature. This not only helps to conserve energy but can tie in for when children are likely to be around. 
  • Fire resistant coating: This doesn’t impact the surface temperature but helps to protect and prevent fire risk on the heating elements themselves. 

We’ve listed out some of the best infrared panels that fit the criteria above to make sure that both safety and efficiency are prioritised.

About the author 

Ben Hardman

Ben is a professional writer and the creator of sustainable living website
It's here where he helps people to reduce their environmental impact through simple, everyday choices. Away from the laptop, Ben loves spending time in the natural environment with his young family and Murphy the cocker spaniel.

First Class BSc Biology degree (environmental and climate change focus)
Six years of working and writing in the environmental sector, including two years working at an international sustainability consultancy
Written for Ethical Consumer magazine, My Mother Tree, Unsustainable Magazine, Happy Eco News, Emission Index,
Commented in The Independent, The Guardian, GreenMatch. Also featured on Radio 1's environmental special 'Minute of Me'

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