How Far do Infrared Panels Reach?

Are you considering the installation of infrared panels? If so, an important factor to take into account is their heating range. 

This is key because infrared (IR) panels emit a form of directional heating. This warms objects up directly rather than the air in between. This is seen as a positive for IR heating panels, which have emerged as an energy efficient alternative to traditional heating systems in modern homes. 

However, it also means that if you’re too far away from the panel and out of range, you won’t feel the heating benefit.  

The heating distance these panels reach varies according to the size, power output and positioning of the panel; but generally speaking, infrared panels operate over short distances of 3 metres or less.

There’s a little more to it than that, so let’s head into the details on IR panel reach and the amount of heat they emit.

How much heat do infrared panels give off?

Infrared heating panels work differently from conventional heating systems. They emit infrared waves that directly heat objects and people rather than warming the air, which happens in a convection-based radiator system. 

The best infrared panels on the market have an efficiency rating of 100%. 

This means that they can convert every watt of electrical energy they consume into heat energy. At the point of use, there is zero energy waste with IR heaters. This isn’t the case with traditional radiators that also require the heating of boilers, water and pipes. 

It’s thought that infrared panel heaters require 30% less energy input than a traditional convection system to emit the equivalent amount of heat. With most IR panels powered between 200W-1,200W, all of this energy is being emitted as heat into your room.

Infrared panels also warm up quickly, typically reaching full heat intensity in just a few minutes.

How far does the heat from an infrared panel reach?

Indoor infrared panels tend to operate over short distances. Most have a maximum range of around 3 metres. So, if you’re more than 3m away from a panel, you might not feel the full impact of all the heat. 

As infrared heat is directional, it will travel across this short range until it hits a solid object, where it will then be absorbed by the thermal mass. Depending on the positioning of the panel, this could be a human body (good) or the back of a cupboard (bad). 

How far the heat from an IR panel reaches is also influenced by the radiation angle. Although heat is emitted from the panel in straight lines, these lines can come out at angles of up to 120 degrees – imagine a cone of heat coming out of the panel. 

The greater the radiation angle, the more heat is being dispersed. This is important as it significantly impacts the effectiveness of the panels. 

For example, an IR panel on a ceiling will have a large radiation angle as there are no solid objects in the way. All of the heat can radiate down uninterrupted into the room. Compare this to an IR panel too close to the floor, whose dispersion will be greatly impacted by the solid floor itself. 

Do infrared panels heat the whole room?

While the heat from infrared panels might not directly reach every corner of the room, the panels are designed to provide an even distribution of warmth. As the panels heat objects and surfaces, heat gets re-radiated about, eventually warming your space over time. 

Whether your IR panels will heat your whole room is another question. It depends on a few factors, including:

  • Size and power of the panels
  • Positioning within the room
  • Home insulation levels

Most infrared panels will operate at a temperature of around 80-95oC. This can be true for a 200W panel as it can be for a 1,200W panel.

However, with a greater surface area and higher wattage, larger panels will provide more overall heat to a room. 

The next question is how many panels do you need to heat a room effectively? Again, this depends on a number of factors, such as room volume, the type of space and insulation levels. 

For more information, check out this detailed article on how many infrared panels do you need. Here you’ll find a simple formula to help you work out your requirements in terms of total power needed per space. 

Once you determine how many panels you need, the next crucial step is panel positioning to optimise heat coverage. Here you want to be mindful of any unwanted objects in the way, as well as maximising the radiation angle – Check out our post on where to put IR panels

How much of an area will an infrared panel cover?

If you’re looking for a rough rule of thumb, it’s thought you need between 50-100 watts of power to heat a square metre of space. 

This is a broad and approximate estimate, but it can still be useful. This rule of thumb works out at:

  • 300W panel: Covers 3-6 square metres
  • 600W panel: Covers 6-12 square metres
  • 800W panel: Covers 8-16 square metres
  • 1000W panel: Covers 10-20 square metres

The method below will give you a much more accurate look at how much infrared heating you need. 

How do I know how much infrared heating my home requires?

We’ve already established that an infrared panel will emit heat up to a distance of 3m. We’ve also discussed the importance of panel positioning to allow for a greater radiation angle. 

To work out the true requirements for your space or home, you need to calculate the total area, or room volume, which then informs the total watts you need. 

To find the volume, you need to multiply the room or space Length x Width x Height to get a value in metres squared (m3).

As each home differs in terms of build and insulation, your volume figure needs to be multiplied by the number of watts per m³ according to your home type below. This will then give you a total watts required for each room or space.

As you can see below, better-insulated spaces retain heat more effectively, meaning fewer infrared panels are needed to maintain the desired temperature. 

Type of spaceWatts per m³(for comfortable temperature)Watts per m³(for extra toasty temperature)
New Build (good insulation)2025
Standard House (moderate insulation)2530
Old House (poor insulation)3035
Village halls, community centres 3540
Conservatories 4050

To give an example. My living room has a volume of 40m³. My home was built in the 1940s, but has been retrofitted with cavity wall insulation. 

Using the table above, I’d go for a standard house with moderate insulation, which gives me the 25 multiplier figure. 40m³ multiplied by 25 gives me a total watts required of 1,000W to heat my living room. 

Rather than one big panel, I find it’s best to go for two 500W panels in order to maximise heat coverage and make sure most of the room stays warm and comfortable. 

Installing the panels on the ceiling, which is less than 3m high, means everyone and everything in the room is well in range to feel the warming effects of infrared.

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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