Do Infrared Panels Come with Health Risks?

With any new and unfamiliar form of technology, there are always questions. This is natural as people like to be informed and in the know.

Concerns about the potential health risks associated with infrared heating systems are a topic of discussion with those considering this technology. Common questions include, ‘are infrared panels safe?’ and ‘are there any health risks?’

Let’s clear this up right from the start – infrared panels are completely safe and come with minimal health risks.  

There are a few safety issues to be aware of, such as the panel itself being hot to the touch like a radiator, which we’ll look at. But before that, let’s explain why infrared panels are safe to give you full peace of mind. 

Is The Radiation From Infrared Heating Safe?

It’s the ‘r’ word that people are unsure about: radiation. This is because most of us only ever hear about harmful radiation. 

However, it’s crucial to know that radiation is normal. Everyone and everything emits radiation in one way or another.

Heat, radio waves, microwaves and visible light are all forms of radiation. These different types of radiation, which all emit energy that travels from one place to another, exist on the electromagnetic spectrum.  

Depending on the type, some radiation can be harmful, whereas others can be completely harmless. So, what about infrared radiation?

What Kind of Radiation Do Infrared Panels Use?

It won’t come as a surprise to find out that infrared panels emit infrared radiation. This type of electromagnetic radiation finds itself between visible light and microwaves on the electromagnetic spectrum. 

Specifically, infrared panels use long-wave infrared radiation, known as far-infrared. This is the same type of radiation emitted by the human body. Once far-infrared is emitted by the panels, it travels until it reaches a solid object, where the radiation is absorbed. You can find out how far infrared panels reach in our guide. 

Unlike ultraviolet radiation or X-rays, which are more powerful forms of radiation and have enough energy to ‘ionise’ atoms in the human body and potentially cause damage to cells, infrared radiation does not have sufficient energy. 

The low-energy waves of far-infrared heat is ‘non-ionising’ and comes with no health risks as found by scientific studies and health assessments. This is why infrared panels are considered fully safe for household use.

Going a step further, far-infrared is often used for its therapeutic properties, such as in infrared saunas or IR therapy, where it can help with muscle aches and improve circulation. In open baby incubators, radiant heat is used to provide safe, gentle, warming heat for little ones. 

Are Infrared Heating Panels Tested For Safety?

Infrared heating panels undergo extensive safety testing before they reach the consumer market. This will include testing for electrical safety to prevent shocks and fires, structural integrity so they don’t fall apart over time and emission levels testing. 

Manufacturers and regulatory bodies ensure that panels comply with the relevant safety standards to certify that they are safe for use in homes and businesses.

Safety Standards and Certifications:

Do Infrared Panels Have Safety Features?

Infrared panels are often designed with a number of safety features to make sure their operation is suitable for residential and commercial environments. These safety features can also be handy when it comes to energy efficient use and conserving energy. 

Typical safety features of a good infrared panel include:

  • Overheat Protection: Many panels are equipped with sensors that detect when the surface temperature exceeds safe levels, automatically shutting down to prevent overheating.
  • Timers and Thermostats: Users can control heating duration and intensity, which not only conserves energy but also enhances safety by preventing continuous operation. Smart infrared heaters that are connected to apps can be managed remotely. 
  • Cool-to-touch Surfaces: Certain models offer surfaces that remain cool or only mildly warm to the touch, minimising burn risks.

Are infrared panels hot to touch?

The main safety issue with infrared panels is that the surface casing can, and will, get hot to the touch. This is true for most models. 

The surface of IR panels can reach similar temperatures to hot radiators, around the 80-100oC market.  However, as explained by Herschel Infrared, IR panels often have lower ‘watt density’ of 0.09 watts per cm2. This lower energy level that can be absorbed and conducted away by the skin without problem. 

For comparison, the watt density of a kettle is around 15-30 watts per cm2. Although a kettle and IR panel get up to similar temperatures, the more compact energy levels of a kettle mean the skin can’t absorb all of the energy and conduct it away. In this example, it makes the kettle much more dangerous to touch. 

For quick touches and brushes past, infrared panels are perfectly safe. That said, prolonged contact with a hot panel may cause burns – please don’t do this. 

The other advantage to infrared panels is that they can be positioned out of the way. Generally, IR panels are installed higher up on walls or on ceilings where they are most effective. This means they should be well out of the way from the investigative hands of babies and toddlers. Read more on where you should put infrared panels here. 

Other safety issues with infrared panels

Aside from the temperature of the surface, the other safety risks with IR panels come from electricity and the risk of fire. 

Being electrical devices, each panel will need to be either wired into your mains electrics with a spur or plugged into a mains power supply. Of course, any panels installed directly into your electrical system should be done so by a qualified electrician. 

Plugging something in isn’t rocket since and isn’t exclusive to IR panels, but it’s worth being aware of basic health and safety common sense, such as wire cord safety and not overloading the socket. 

Wherever a panel is placed, make sure that it’s not in contact with other items and furnishings, like curtains, which could pose a fire risk .

Are Infrared Panels Safe For The Environment?

Infrared panels are a more environmentally-friendly heating option than traditional gas or coal-based heating. 

Firstly, infrared panels are powered by electricity. When powered by renewable energy sources, IR panels can offer heating with virtually zero carbon emissions. It’s even possible to integrate panels into the same electrical systems as solar panels, which is why they can be a good heating source for the future

Secondly, the best infrared panels convert 100% of the electrical input into infrared energy to heat you and your space. This makes infrared panels more efficient than traditional radiators and can result in lower energy consumption.

In terms of resource impact, the production of infrared heating panels involves materials like aluminium and other metals, which require energy for manufacturing and processing. However, a good panel can last for a decade and more, leading to less frequent replacement and reduced waste over time. 

When the time comes for replacing or getting rid of a panel, it’s possible to recycle the parts independently. Keep a lookout for companies who offer a take-back scheme to make this process easier.

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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