How Commercial Infrared Heating Works

Are you wondering how commercial infrared heating works? Could it be a candidate heating method for your business space? 

Infrared heating for commercial spaces is certainly worth checking out. It has the potential to be more efficient and provide direct heating, as opposed to traditional methods, like convection heating, which rely on heating the air. 

Depending on the space you have, infrared heating could be a better choice for your business setting. This article will discuss how infrared (IR) works, the benefits in a commercial space, plus the most popular commercial applications.

How infrared heating works

Infrared heaters work by converting electricity into IR energy. They do this via heating elements, usually made of carbon fibre or ceramics. The energy generated is emitted as infrared radiation, a precise band of electromagnetic wavelengths that sits between visible light and microwaves on the EM spectrum. 

The IR radiation travels through the air and is absorbed by solid objects, such as our bodies, which feel the energy as warmth. This form of radiant heating is similar to how the sun heats the Earth and how sunshine feels on your face on a nice, spring day.  

As infrared wavelengths travel in straight lines, infrared panels can effectively heat specific zones of a space rather than warming ambient air which is then circulated around a room.  

Benefits of commercial infrared heating

Commercial infrared heating has gained traction due to its ability to deliver targeted warmth. In the right setting, businesses may benefit from the technology’s cost-effectiveness, rapid heating capabilities and energy efficiency. Let’s take a closer look. 

Energy efficiency

One of the biggest advantages of infrared heating is its excellent energy efficiency. The best infrared panels are able to convert 100% of the electricity that powers them into emitted heat energy. 

With infrared heating being a single unit system, there’s no chance for heat energy to get lost as it’s transferred through pipes and radiators as you get with boiler and radiator systems. This efficiency means they can run on less power when compared to a traditional convection-based heating system. 

An important point to get the most out of an infrared heater is the panel positioning. As IR panels provide directional heat, they need to be placed where they can fully disperse the emitted energy. If the panel is too close to the floor or if there’s furniture in between the panel and people it’s trying to warm, the heating effect will be less effective. You’ll also have to make sure someone is in range of the panel for the heat to be effectively absorbed. 


For many commercial settings, IR panels offer an appealing, cost-effective solution to heating requirements. 

By directly heating people and objects rather than air, they use less energy to warm designated zones, which reduces energy wastage. This is certainly true in big, open spaces where convection-based heating gets lost easily, rendering it largely ineffective.

Infrared heating panels are also super simple to install. A lot of models have ‘plug in and go’ capabilities, meaning all you need is a mains socket. Some models are freestanding, whereas others should be mounted on the wall or ceiling. If you prefer to permanently install your panels, it’s a simple job for a qualified electrician to wire in the electrics.

When you do have your IR panels up and running, a major bonus is that they require zero maintenance. No annual servicing or up-keep. The only thing you need to do is keep them free from dust to maximise efficiency. 

The system’s efficiency can be further increased when paired up with renewable energy sources like solar panels. This can lead to reduced operational costs and a lower carbon footprint.

Rapid heating

One of the standout advantages of infrared heaters is their ability to provide near instant warmth. 

Depending on the panel size, IR heaters can reach full heat intensity in 3-10 minutes. As soon as you switch them on though, you’ll feel the warmth. This is beneficial in a commercial setting where you don’t want to be waiting around for traditional heaters to kick in. 

It also means that you don’t have to keep the infrared panels running when no one is around. There is no benefit to this as IR radiation won’t heat up the air – all of the energy generated will be wasted. 

You can read more on how long do infrared panels take to heat up here.

Improved control

Precise control features are a perfect fit for commercial infrared heating. 

With smart, Wi-Fi controlled infrared panels, you’re able to control all settings from an app. This means you can set heating schedules and desired temperatures based on when people will be occupying certain spaces. If no one is around – no need to waste any energy!

Whether you’re heating a shop, an office or a warehouse, improved control makes running your panels much more energy efficient.

Commercial applications of infrared heating

Infrared heating systems are ideal for a diverse range of commercial settings. Here are a few business spaces where they are particularly useful. 

Warehouses and industrial setting

In warehouses, infrared heaters are an efficient way to help employees feel comfortable without using a ton of power to heat the whole space. It’s often impossible to maintain a consistent temperature in big warehouses due to the large volume of air and poor insulation levels. 

IR heating can by-pass these inefficiencies by applying heat directly to people.   

Office spaces

If you’ve worked in an office, it’s likely you’ve been there with the office heating wars – I know I have. One person is always freezing and wants the heating on full blast, whereas the next person prefers a fresh and breezy environment. Usually nobody wins.  

Infrared heating can be used as an excellent middle ground as they provide targeted, zonal heating. If someone is cold, they can turn on a nearby IR panel to warm up without heating the rest of the office (and the people who are always hot). 

In this scenario, it’s useful to have a number of smaller panels situated around the office so that most zones and spaces are covered.  For more information, have a read of where you should put infrared panels

Restaurants and shops

Infrared can be a fantastic use of heating in shops and restaurants. As a starter, a great spot to install infrared heating is next to the entrance. This way, on a cold day customers get a lovely feeling of warm air as soon as they step foot into your business. Top marks here as far as positive sentiment goes. 

The advantages of zonal heating can be applied to other high traffic areas like checkouts, seating or over outside settings.  

Choosing the right commercial infrared heater

There are various types of infrared heaters that can be used for a commercial space. 

When it comes to heating offices and places of work that are similar in style to residential settings, infrared panels have their benefits. They have a larger surface area and can emit bigger dispersion angles of infrared heat, which will help with their effectiveness. 

But for more industrial applications, such as warehouses and large buildings, infrared bar heaters are a great option. You can get remote controlled, Wi-Fi connect bar heaters for single installations or ones that connect to a central hub unit if you have multiple heaters set up.  

IR bar heaters often sit above door frames and on ceiling joists. They’re angled down to provide direct, powerful warmth. The bar heaters are usually more powerful than their IR panel cousins, with power outputs ranging from 1.2kW to 3kW and more. 

Be aware that some infrared bar heaters will use far-infrared radiation, which is the same type used in panel heaters. But others, the ones that glow red when turned on, use near-infrared. This is a more powerful type of infrared that’s generally used in outdoor settings or warehouses.

It’s still safe and with minimal health risks, but it’s a harsher variation of infrared heating. Sometimes however in very large areas, this type of stronger infrared heat is more effective.

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'

{"email":"Email address invalid","url":"Website address invalid","required":"Required field missing"}
Subscribe to get the latest updates