How Long Do Infrared Panels Take to Heat a Room?

Infrared panels offer a different heating experience to many traditional methods. As their use isn’t widespread (just yet at least), you may be curious to know how long it takes these panels to warm up and heat a room. 

In most cases, they are very quick to warm up and can reach full temperature in less than 10 minutes. If they’re in the right position, this will have you warmed up in no time. 

How long it takes these heaters to warm a full room however, is slightly more nuanced. We’ll get into the answer below and cover all you need to know about the time it takes for infrared heating to work. 

How long do infrared panels take to heat up?

Being a highly efficient electrical appliance, infrared (IR) heaters warm up fast. The best infrared panels will generally take around 3 to 5 minutes to reach full heat intensity.

From a completely cold start, a panel may take a little longer to fully warm up, but this will still be less than 10 minutes.

This is a big advantage over traditional heating systems, which take longer to create a comfortable environment.

  • Infrared Panels: 3-5 minutes
  • Traditional Convection Radiators: Up to 20-30 minutes

Traditional radiators take longer as (in most cases) you have to wait for a gas-fired boiler to heat water, to then circulate around your radiators, to then warm the air in a room by convection. 

Infrared panels contain heating elements that produce infrared radiation. These waves directly heat objects and surfaces, providing a comfortable warmth much faster. As soon as you turn an infrared panel on, power is immediately supplied to the heater to do its thing. 

Even better, the best IR panels are 100% run on efficiency, meaning every watt of energy they consume is converted to heat. It’s important to note that the efficiency of an infrared panel will largely depend on its quality. 

How soon can you start to feel the heat from an infrared panel?

Switch on your infrared panels and you’ll start to feel their heating benefits almost straight away. 

However, the indoor panels are designed not to go from zero to 100 in heat intensity. This contrasts to outdoor infrared heaters that operate on near-infrared radiation, providing heat instantaneously – these are the ones that glow red when turned on. 

Instead, indoor infrared panels warm up gradually to provide a much smoother heat that’s more suitable for a home environment. You won’t have to wait too long though and will feel the full benefits in just a few minutes.

How long does it take for an infrared panel to heat a room?

An infrared panel will heat up you directly much faster than it will heat up a room, which will happen much more gradually. 

If a well-positioned panel with a good radiation angle is turned on, your room or space will feel warm within the 3-10 minute timeframe. 

That said, if you’re looking for an IR panel to heat up the air in a room, rather than just the people in there, it will take longer and depend on several factors, such as:

  • Room size
  • Panel size and power
  • Positioning of the panels
  • Insulation levels
  • Objects in the room

It will take an IR panel longer to warm up the air because this happens as a by-product over time. As objects in the room absorb infrared heat and emit it back out into the room via convection, the air will gradually warm. A room that’s low on insulation and high on draughts though will allow more heat to escape which will quickly cool down any air-warming benefits. 

However, in the right room it can work nicely. Let’s take an example with ceiling mounted infrared panels. Due to their positioning, ceiling panels emit infrared heat into the whole room. Naturally, heat will be absorbed by the floor. Flooring materials with good thermal mass, such as wood, stone and tiles, will re-emit this heat into the room over time. 

Would a room heat quicker with multiple infrared panels?

Using multiple infrared panels in a single room can certainly speed up the heating process and provide more even heat distribution. 

The number and placement of the panels will depend on factors such as the room’s size, shape and layout. To determine the right number of infrared panels for your home, take a look at our detailed post on how many infrared panels do you need? It breaks down everything you need to know and provides a simple formula that you can apply to your rooms. 

With the correct number of panels in place, you can expect a faster and more efficient heating experience. It’s often a good idea to go for multiple smaller panels than one large panel of the size power. 

For example, an open plan kitchen with great insulation and a room volume of 70m3 may require a total wattage of 1,400W to warm the space effectively. More often than not, it’s better to go with two 700W panels than one very large panel to get maximum heat dispersion. 

Can you heat a whole house with infrared panels?

It is possible to heat a whole house using infrared panels. They’re adaptable pieces of kit that can be installed in all sorts of rooms, including living spaces, kitchens, bathrooms, bedrooms, home offices and more. They’re also particularly effective in garages and outdoor buildings. All that’s required is an electrical connection – no pipework is necessary. 

To heat an entire house, you’d need to install sufficient wattage of infrared panels across each room. 

To give you an idea, it can take anywhere from 6 (e.g. in a small apartment) to 20 panels (e.g. in a 4 or 5 bed house) to heat an entire home. Just how many panels you’d need depends on the size and shape of your specific home.  

One thing to bear in mind is the distance that infrared panels reach, you can read more on this in our article on how far infrared panels reach. They generally emit heat out to a maximum distance of 3 metres. So, you want to make sure any seating areas or high-traffic zones, such as the kitchen workspace, are within this range to fully feel the benefits.

This all comes down to the panel positioning, which is absolutely crucial for maximum effectiveness. Take a look at our guide on where to position your infrared panels for more support. Check out our article on where to position your IR panels.

Good placement will also help to keep running costs down. On the whole, infrared panels are relatively cost effective to run. Based on the current UK price cap, a large 1,200W infrared panel will cost around 32p an hour to run. If you used a panel of this size every day for two years, it would cost £326 to run across the full year. A smaller 600W panel will only cost 16p an hour to run. 

How long would it take to heat a shed, garage or garden room with infrared panels?

Outdoor buildings, such as sheds and garages, tend to have poor insulation. For this reason, they will heat up differently compared to a room in your home.

It’s often not necessary to heat the air in an outdoor building that’s only used intermittently. Without insulation, heating the air is largely ineffective. Also, it will take way more energy to heat the colder outside air than it will in an indoor home environment. 

Due to the way that infrared panels work, heating a shed or garage is not a problem. In fact, they are extremely useful in this scenario because they heat you up directly.

Depending on the type of infrared heater you buy, depends how quickly you’ll feel the warmth. For example, people often use the stronger near-infrared heaters to warm a garden patio area. These burst out quick, powerful heat and glow red as soon as they’re switched on. 

For a garden room though that acts more like a living space, you’re best off going for a far-infrared panel heater that warms up more gradually, but still reaches full heat in a matter of minutes.

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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