Infrared heating gives additional energy savings through proper zoning and control of the panels.

What is “zoning”?

Radiant heaters have a huge advantage over central heating, fans and storage heaters because they can be positioned to heat only a specific “zone” in a room – without heating other areas.

A “zone” can be defined as broadly or narrowly as you require and can be a whole room or just an area within it.

The difference between Infrared and traditional heaters with respect to zoning is the following:

  • You cannot zone heaters that heat and convect air (ie. central heaters). Once air is heated, it rises and disperses uncontrollably. A central heating radiator consequently has to warm the entire volume of air in a room until its average temperature feels acceptable because you cannot control where the heated air goes.  This uses much more energy than necessary – especially if you do not generally use certain areas in a room. With an infrared panel you can specify exactly where you want the heat to go (which can be a whole room or just part of a room);
  • It is as much a factor of human comfort to be able to get out of a heated area as much as it is to be in one when required. To be comfortable, you do not need every part of the room to be at the same temperature. This is why Central heating systems can feel stifling (because you cannot escape the warmth);
  • To heat a room with central heating, the entire system needs to be on, incurring heat loss through the whole of the rest of the house. To heat a room with Herschel infrared, only the panel in the zone required needs to be on.

In industrial applications (heating entire warehouses), zoning becomes a critical energy-saving factor and a key competitive advantage of using infrared. As you can see in the example below, only a portion of the 63.5 metre warehouse required heating. This zoning was not possible with the gas alternative being considered and the correctly zoned use of Infrared in this instance saved a greater amount of energy than envisaged even in the original business case (which because it was looking at gas, proposed that the entire warehouse area needed heating.)

Properly zoned industrial heaters in a warehouse

About Control

Traditional and modern heater manufacturers now promote the use of intelligent controls in a house (as opposed to a single thermostat controlling the whole system – as is commonly the case). Intelligent controls imply management of each particular “zone” in a house (along the same lines as above, a “zone” being defined as narrowly or broadly as you choose).  This further implies sensing of each zone’s temperature and control of the combination of heaters to maintain that temperature.  Heaters may be a combination of different types (e.g. Wet central heating radiators and electric top-up panels), so the control must be able to coordinate all types together.

The control should also be able to regulate times on and off as well as temperature, to make sense of the actual use of each zone.

The actual savings possible will depend case by case, but the general consensus is that you should be able to save at least 5-10% of your overall energy consumption by using a smart control system.

Key infrared advantage:

Herschel Infrared has an additional advantage being controlled in this way because being radiant, the heat falls directly on the person or objects to be heated, producing naturally more comfortable conditions than can be achieved by warming the air around them.  Infrared heaters can consequently be controlled at lower air temperatures than traditional convection-based systems. Radiant systems increase the mean radiant temperature around a person allowing these lower air temperatures.  It is therefore possible to maintain air temperature up to 5°C lower compared to traditional heating systems whilst maintaining the same human comfort level.

Herschel strongly recommends that all infrared panels are controlled by a smart control system, ideally as part of an overall house Smart control system.

Zoning and control using a smart control system