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46 posts

Geek
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Topic # 233297 9-Apr-2018 14:41
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Hi everyone,

 

I have been thinking about putting a heat pump in a new lounge (21 m2) we have just added onto our house, but then my electrician suggested I put in a infrared panel instead. I think his reasoning was that they cost about a 1/4 to 1/5 the price of a heat pump to install and provide a nice type of heat, while not being too expensive to run.

 

A heat pump would be cheaper to run of course (well the suppliers argue otherwise, see links below, but I find it hard to believe them), but I guess it would still take quite a few years to recoup the $3k to 4k difference in initial outlay for the heatpump.

 

Anyway - has anyone here installed such heaters or have any experience with them at all? Would be great to get some informed opinions on their performance and costs to run, etc.

 

Here is a local article on them - https://www.ecobob.co.nz/info-and-news/heating-and-cooling/infrared-heating-panels---what-are-they-and-what-are-the-benefits-/

 

There only seems to be two companies selling them here in NZ - both of course singing the praises of IR over heat pumps

 

https://www.herschel-infrared.co.nz/how-infrared-works/herschel-compared-split-heat-pumps/

 

http://infraredpanels.co.nz/cost-savings-with-far-infrared-heating

 

Thanks for your help.

 

 

 

 


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634 posts

Ultimate Geek
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  Reply # 1992107 9-Apr-2018 15:49
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Never heard of these before so I googled.

 

This seemed like a good explanation and cost comparison.

 

The first couple of responses to the question here also are very good reading.

 

The up front cost of a heat pump means it does not make sense in all cases (eg small rooms, or limited use) so these may be worth while.
I too will be interested in others experience. They sound link what use to happen with an old bar heater in many ways.

 

A cheap fan heater may also be a good idea. Sounds like infrared panels will take a while to get a room temp up as it does not directly heat the air.
But the flip side is if your room is draughty you are not wasting power trying to heat the world.

 

 


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  Reply # 1992121 9-Apr-2018 16:00
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Good for spot heating fast.





Mike

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  Reply # 1992164 9-Apr-2018 16:54
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georgea:

 

A heat pump would be cheaper to run of course (well the suppliers argue otherwise, see links below, but I find it hard to believe them), but I guess it would still take quite a few years to recoup the $3k to 4k difference in initial outlay for the heatpump.

 

 

How do you figure out a "$3 to 4k difference" when those heaters you link to cost an awful lot for what they are, and you'd get a premium brand fully featured heatpump capable of outputting about 4x the amount of heat (and do it for about the same energy cost as the panel heater)  installed for $3k or less?

 

$1599 for a 1000 watt panel heater is completely nuts.  You'd get something just as good performance wise at The Warehouse for under $100

 

This in a lounge room - probably the room in a house where heating would be used most. Payback period may be much quicker than you imagine.


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  Reply # 1992165 9-Apr-2018 16:55
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Heat pump is far more efficient. IR heating : 1kw consumed = 1kw heating. Heat pump you get 3-4.5 kw of heat per kw of power. If you have a very well insulated house in a warm part of NZ, maybe it'll be enough. Not in most houses / locations IMHO.





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  Reply # 1992168 9-Apr-2018 17:00
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Wow, There is a seriously huge amount of hand wavy calculations being thrown around on those IR sites,

 

I mean what is "Convective infiltration loss delta" in words of one syllable or less ?

 

 

 

 


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  Reply # 1992172 9-Apr-2018 17:10
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wellygary:

 

Wow, There is a seriously huge amount of hand wavy calculations being thrown around on those IR sites,

 

I mean what is "Convective infiltration loss delta" in words of one syllable or less ?

 

 

Can be abbreviated to first three letters.

 

 




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  Reply # 1992195 9-Apr-2018 18:11
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Thanks for the replies.

 

Infraredpanels has them for about $900 for the biggest one which is the right size for our room. I could do the install myself so effectively no install cost. So let say $1k delivered vs what I thought would be $4-6k for an equivalent big heap pump installed. Admittedly though that doesn't include the cost of a themostat.

 

Also I believe these (infrared) heaters are very different to the $100 panel heaters you see for sale at warehouse and mitre ten which just heat things via the normal conventional method (convection).

 

Infrared panels heat objects rather than the air so you do need line of sight - apparently its like having the heat of the sun on you or a bonfire - it sounds like eventually the air in the room will also heat up, but that is a byproduct of the heat coming off the objects. So it has a 1 to 1 heat efficiency output but its close to 100% effective as its not trying to heat the air.

 

The sites seems to say heatpumps in an ideal situation (temp diff, etc) are 3-4 more times efficient, but that in real world use they tend to only be in the 1-2 range. Also they take longer to heat up a room and so generally have to come on earlier and be left on. However, it's tricky to get a good comparison, as it seems the bigger IR markets (UK, etc) don't tend to use heatpumps, which is interesting in itself. And yeah, those figures on the sites don't look legit.

 

I'm not trying to be pro IR panels - I only first became aware of them when the owner of an electrical company suggested them over us putting a heat panel in from a cost vs benefit argument. I was hoping someone might be on here who has used them, as the cost difference for install is huge and even if the IR panel costs say an extra $600 a year to power it will still take 5-8 years extra before the heat pump pays for itself, and that doesn't include servicing costs for the heatpump. And how long do heatpumps generally last for - I'm guessing generally only about 10 years anyway, perhaps less?, as they are much more complex compared to IR panels.

 

On the flip side - the 2nd lounge is next to our bedroom, so I guess a heatpump would hopefully have a heating effect on that room too, whereas an IR panel would be less so. I should add we already have a heatpump for our main lounge and a fireplace - but they don't heat the 2nd living and our bedroom as they are at the opposite end of the house and on a lower level.


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  Reply # 1992204 9-Apr-2018 18:22
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I'm not sure how you figure that an equivalent heatpump would be $4-6k. The infrared heater is only 1200W. About the smallest heatpump you can buy is 2400W and that is around $2k installed. Given it's producing twice as much heat it's not going to take appreciably longer to heat a room.

 

The UK doesn't use a heap of heatpumps due to the conditions and they typically have whole house solutions like radiators/central heating.


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  Reply # 1992291 9-Apr-2018 19:29
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IR panels sound like a total con to me - it's the same heating effect as the glowing electrical filament in front of a shiny reflector that your granny had in her front room 40 years ago.  1200w is not an adequate heat source for an average lounge room - I have the smallest size heat pump (2.5kw?) and that's just about enough on a cold (for Auckland) winter evening.

 

We had 3 heat pumps installed in our house (one per living area) shortly after we bought it, 12 years ago for a toral cost of $6800 - one was a simple "back to back" install, whereas the others were more complicated with pipe runs about 15m.  Servicing cost since then has been zero.  I haven't worked out the ROI, but my wife likes a warm house and I'd be surprised if we haven't achieved a 200% ROI by now.

 

You can't get away from the fact that heat pumps give you around 250-300% efficiency, whereas any other heater gives you 100%.  No marketing speak can change this.


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  Reply # 1992332 9-Apr-2018 20:07
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@georgea, you seem like the perfect consumer... I have a bridge I'd love to sell you!

 

@shk292 is right, IR heater will do about the same as the heater your granny had. If you have a brand new superbly insulated house, maybe it'd be enough. Maybe not.

 

Another way to look at this - two companies sell IR heaters, thousands sell heat pump. Installed base is probably about the same.

 

A heat pump takes 1-2 minutes to start producing significant quantities of heat, even on a cold day. My heat pumps produce about 7kw and 10kw respectively. So after 10 minutes of operation the smaller heat pump has produced roughly 5X more heat than an IR panel. After an hour it's closer to 7X. Both are guesstimates.

 

The downsides to heat pumps is the air movement can make it feel cooler, they're not always quiet (though they have quiet settings), and they have an outdoor unit. I'm ok with that. Best way to use them in a reasonably insulated house, in my experience, is turn them on at the start of winter and leave them on. First day will cost more, rest of winter you're just paying to top up the heat. I turn mine off overnight, because on Electric Kiwi I blast them for my free hour in the morning.

 

Buy a heat pump unless you have special needs.





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  Reply # 1992420 9-Apr-2018 22:57
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Can you compare the heat output using the direct wattage like that though given its a different heating mechanism? For example, I have come across other sites sayings things like a 600 watt infrared panel will heat about the same area as a 1500 watt traditional convection heater. I assumed that was the whole advantage of IR.

 

I was also using various online calculators to get an idea of both the IR panel required and also heat pump - For my lounge space, apparently 1 - 1.2kw is sufficient when using an IR panel, but obviously very different requirements for a heat pump (min 3.2kw rated). It would also seem unlikely my electrician (who is onto it) would recommend them if they were just like the heaters of old and wouldn't heat the room, and in fact why would they exist at all as a product (and sold round the world at fairly high prices) if that was the case? They do have other drawbacks of course.

 

But perhaps I am the perfect sucker consumer! It would still be interesting to see one of these things in action, or hear from someone who has one. 

 

Also to be honest I was looking at the price of higher rated heat pumps - so my initial price comparison wasn't fair from that point of view. I'll get on to getting some proper quotes.

 

Now onto those bridges you mentioned you have for sale...


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  Reply # 1992422 9-Apr-2018 23:07
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IR heaters are great in places where you want to spot heat, or have drafts thru the area like working in a garage or sitting in the corner of a large room gaming while noone else is in it. So they need to be directable. Sticking "something" in the room pointing wherever in the room will only heat you if you are infront of it, so totally not comparable to getting the whole room and everything in it up to a good temperature.

 

Also be ready for an ice cold chair because its had nothing hitting it, while the other end of the sofa is very hot to the point of discomfort if its in the blast from the IR heater.

 

IMO totally unsuitable for household heating if you cant stick it right infront of where you need it and enjoy its radiation.





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  Reply # 1992451 10-Apr-2018 00:51
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georgea:

Can you compare the heat output using the direct wattage like that though given its a different heating mechanism? For example, I have come across other sites sayings things like a 600 watt infrared panel will heat about the same area as a 1500 watt traditional convection heater. I assumed that was the whole advantage of IR.


I was also using various online calculators to get an idea of both the IR panel required and also heat pump - For my lounge space, apparently 1 - 1.2kw is sufficient when using an IR panel, but obviously very different requirements for a heat pump (min 3.2kw rated). It would also seem unlikely my electrician (who is onto it) would recommend them if they were just like the heaters of old and wouldn't heat the room, and in fact why would they exist at all as a product (and sold round the world at fairly high prices) if that was the case? They do have other drawbacks of course.


But perhaps I am the perfect sucker consumer! It would still be interesting to see one of these things in action, or hear from someone who has one. 


Also to be honest I was looking at the price of higher rated heat pumps - so my initial price comparison wasn't fair from that point of view. I'll get on to getting some proper quotes.


Now onto those bridges you mentioned you have for sale...



I guess your sparky does a lot of commercial work. As the whole point of infrared heaters is to not heat the entire room. And open plan style cafe is a good example. Put infrared heaters above the tables. Keeps the customers warm without massive heat losses due to the entrance door being constantly opened. And the busy staff are not constantly sweating, due to the room being too warm for them.

About the only other residential situation where they might be useful. Is where you have a militant council or body corporate that won't allow you to install heatpumps.





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  Reply # 1992452 10-Apr-2018 00:53
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Had IR heaters mounted in the roof of a workshop I used to work in - coldest most horrible shop ever. Always cold under the vehicles, always cold inside the vehicles. A vehicle left inside overnight would warm up to almost uncomfortable temp to touch, but as soon as you moved it outside and brought another one in, back to bloody cold again. Christchurch winters, we'd use diesel fired portable heaters first thing in the morning to warm the air as it was always cold unless you stood directly under an IR panel. Also used to have small bits of metal that we'd run a bead on with the welder, wrap in a rag then pop in your pocket as a hand warmer :)

I'd certainly not buy them for anywhere I was living or working.

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  Reply # 1992523 10-Apr-2018 09:09
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I've seen IR heaters do a good job in some domestic applications.  Generally when you stand/sit under the heater and need to be warm for a short period of time. 

 

When we first bought a place in Blenheim I put one in above the breakfast bar.  We could be warm on weekday mornings without firing up the log-burner, knowing that within two hours the sun would heat the whole house.

 

A friend has put IR ceiling panels in his apartment in Welly.  They are flush with the ceiling and low profile in the ceiling cavity.  A heat pump wasn't an option as there was nowhere to mount the outdoor unit.  They aren't very energy efficient, but the apartment is only about 80m2 and retains heat well so his energy bill is still low.

 

 





Mike

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