Which heater to choose, infrared or heat fan: comparative characteristics, pros and cons of devices

Comfort and energy efficiency can differ significantly depending on the heater you choose for your house. Heat fans and infrared heaters are two common choices, each with unique features and advantages. We’ll contrast these two kinds of heaters in this post to assist you in selecting the one that might be most appropriate for your requirements.

Instead of heating the air, an infrared heater works by emitting infrared radiation, which warms nearby objects and people directly. This process is comparable to how Earth is warmed by the sun. Since infrared heaters are effective at producing focused heat, they are a great choice for rapidly heating particular spaces. Because they don’t waste energy heating the entire room, they are also frequently regarded as being more energy-efficient than conventional convection heaters.

Conversely, forced-air heaters, sometimes referred to as heat fans, heat a room by forcing air over a heating element. The heated air then circulates throughout the space. These heaters work well at swiftly increasing a room’s temperature, which is why larger spaces or entire rooms are frequently heated with them. Compared to infrared heaters, heat fans are typically less expensive and can be mounted or carried around.

The way that these two kinds of heaters distribute heat is an important factor to compare. Since infrared heaters heat objects directly, the heat they produce feels more immediate and natural. This can be especially helpful if you want immediate warmth in a certain area, like next to a desk or chair. On the other hand, by moving heated air around the room, heat fans disperse warmth more evenly, which is advantageous for preserving a constant temperature in larger areas.

The advantages and disadvantages of infrared heaters and heat fans should be compared, taking into account aspects like energy economy, upkeep costs, and user-friendliness. Since infrared heaters heat objects directly, they usually use less energy, which could lead to lower heating costs. Furthermore, unlike heat fans, they don’t lower humidity levels, which is advantageous in spaces where a certain amount of humidity is necessary for comfort.

The drawback of infrared heaters is that they might not work as well in larger rooms or ones where there are obstructions that block the infrared waves. Although heat fans are good at heating rooms quickly, their operation can make them noisier. Furthermore, heat fans occasionally produce drafts or dry out the air, which makes them unsuitable for people who have respiratory problems.

In conclusion, your unique heating requirements and preferences will determine which infrared heater or heat fan is best for you. An infrared heater might be a better choice if you value targeted heating and energy efficiency. However, a heat fan might be the best option if you need to quickly warm up larger areas or prefer more even heating. Choosing the right kind of heater for you will depend on your needs regarding space, cost, and comfort.

Infrared Heater Heat Fan Heater
Uses infrared rays to heat objects directly. Blows air over heating elements to warm the air.
Doesn"t dry out the air, making it suitable for allergy sufferers. Can reduce humidity in the room due to air circulation.
Efficient for spot heating, targeting specific areas. Provides quick, widespread warmth by circulating heated air.
Operates silently without fans or motors. May produce noise due to fan operation.
Energy-efficient for focused heating needs. Can be less efficient for large spaces.
Safe to use around children and pets; surface stays cool. Requires caution to avoid accidental burns or fires.

Comparing a heat fan or infrared heater

Both devices were regarded as "folk," copied by do-it-yourself enthusiasts, constantly fixed, and functional for ten to twenty years. There is a reason to know which type of heater is best: an infrared heater or a heat fan.

Due to the following, both heaters are popular:

  1. Simple construction.
  2. Affordable price.
  3. Efficiency of work.

An infrared heater is bought if the house is made of wood or if a sizable surface area needs to be heated simultaneously. It was placed in hallways, chicken coops, and greenhouses. Everywhere the infrared radiator was used, it operated flawlessly.

In other situations, the heat fan was selected because it was the easiest to maintain out of all the available options.

Principle of operation of a fan heater and an infrared heater

These two heating sources are not the same. Both heaters use a glowing nichrome spiral as their energy source, despite some similarities. Nearly all of the energy is converted into radiant heat by the device because the nichrome wire heats up to 800-900°C in the infrared spectrum. The glowing spiral was covered with a heat-resistant glass cover to prevent metal oxidation.

Heated air flows are the primary source of heat for the fan heater. The heating element is the same nichrome spiral, but it is positioned atop a frame composed of a material resistant to heat. A tiny fan generates the airflow. Compared to other methods, it enables faster and more efficient heating of the surrounding air.

Which heats up faster

The circumstances under which heaters operate determine their efficiency and rate of heating. There is very little heating inertia in reflex (radiant) heaters. That is, even though the device takes around 6-7 seconds to reach the mode, it starts to radiate heat as soon as it is turned on, in just 1-2 seconds.

It takes a little longer for the fan heater circuit to "accelerate." After turning on, the first warm air blasts out in 20 to 30 seconds, and full heating takes place in 40 to 60 seconds.

When comparing the rate at which an infrared radiator and a fan heater warm up when placed close together, the second device will warm up faster. As with an oil radiator, heat is transferred more effectively by the moving hot air flow than by radiation.

The efficiency of both heaters is approximately the same at the convector level at a distance of up to one meter. The infrared device has an advantage at a considerable distance. The surface where the radiation falls experiences the simultaneous release of the greatest amount of heat.

It is therefore advised to install heat fans close to the resting area. Infrared can be mounted on a greenhouse’s or room’s ceiling. The air temperature will be between 20 and 23 °C at a height of 1.3 to 1.5 meters, and 28 to 30 °C on the ground.

Power and energy consumption

It is widely acknowledged that a fan heater is a more cost-effective heating device. When in operation, a spiral or ceramic element can heat the air to 70–80°C, and when operating at maximum capacity, it can reach 120°C. At the same time, 1.8–2.0 kWh of electricity are consumed. A heat fan will take at least two hours to heat the living room.

Budget-friendly infrared heaters are not as good as heat fans. A portion of the energy is used to heat the housing and metal reflector of models with uncovered reflectors to 180–200°C. Convection carries this portion of the heat into the air, while ventilation removes it.

Models with an insulated case are more cost-effective. Only infrared radiation, which is dispersed throughout the space and primarily heats the floor and the air around the furniture, uses electric energy.

Convenience of operation

Compared to an infrared heater, a heat fan has the advantage of being simpler and more convenient to use. Typically, the device’s design places all of the knobs and control buttons on the front side of the housing.

The fan heater is simple to switch on or off without having to put your hand under the hot air jet, even when it is standing on the floor. The majority of models feature a smooth heating power adjustment feature and an integrated thermostat. A temperature indicator is present in some. Fan heaters in the luxury class are remote-controlled.

The controls are at the end of the body of the infrared heater. The device itself can be installed on a ceiling or wall bracket, or it can be set up on a tripod. In any case, you have to go over three to four meters to get to the switch knobs, and occasionally you even have to use a stepladder to get to the ceiling. Since this is inconvenient, a lot of manufacturing companies provide a remote control module as an extra option.

The infrared heater’s ability to operate quietly in all modes is a significant benefit. Furthermore, the apparatus does not burn atmospheric oxygen. Thus, a bedroom or a child’s room can have infrared heaters installed.

The front door of the house is an additional location for the reflector. The device is positioned vertically downward on the hallway ceiling. This allows water to be removed from the floor and warms the air that enters the house when doors are opened.

The noise level of the fan heater is between 40 and 42 dB, which is equivalent to a quiet conversation. Its noise is not noticeable in an ordinary apartment setting, but in a child’s room or a bedroom, it can be upsetting and interfere with sleep.


Compared to fan heaters with comparable thermal capacities, infrared heaters are marginally larger in both size and weight. The presence of a frame and an aluminum reflector within the radiating heating device provides an explanation for this. This enables the infrared heater’s heat-resistant plastic exterior to be made more aesthetically pleasing and to have a pleasing design.

For structural reasons, the radiant heater’s dimensions cannot be decreased. Large reflectors radiate all of the energy instead of dispersing it inside the housing and heating up the reflector itself. As a result, these kinds of models are consistently large, measuring 40 by 50, 20 by 80, or 15 by 120 cm.

A few ceiling heaters are an exception. They are shaped and sized like vintage daylight bulbs, with a long body (up to 130 cm) and a narrow body (5-7 cm) covered in a quartz glass hood.

Compact dimensions are a defining characteristic of all heaters. Tabletop models typically have a maximum width of 35 cm and a maximum height of 40 cm, with a maximum height of 20 cm. Floor heaters are typically tall and narrow, with a maximum height of 80 cm and a maximum body width of 12–15 cm, though there are models that reach 150 cm.

Reliability and safety

An open coil that has been heated to a high temperature is a significant drawback of the fan heater design. Especially when the unit is on the floor, the fan scatters a lot of house dust onto the heated metal. Fine paper dust and even scraps frequently end up on the coil of small tabletop models.

Generally speaking, these issues don’t arise in models that use a ceramic-metal heating element, but they do reach a higher temperature (500–600°C). Additionally, burns or a fire may result if the functional gadget falls off the table onto a soft floor covering.

Fan heaters frequently malfunction, usually as a result of coil burning out or electric fan wear and tear. The smooth power adjustment regulator is prone to wear and tear. Although the device is easily repairable, even by one person, its overall service life is shorter than that of heaters from other schemes.

Closed infrared devices have a lifespan of 15-20 years, while models with an open spiral have a maximum lifespan of 5 years.

Handling radiant heating devices needs to be done with extreme caution. If the fan heater can withstand multiple drops onto the floor without breaking, then an infrared heater only needs to drop once to shatter the protective glass or quartz tube that the coil is wound around. The device’s operating life is shortened by the absence of a protective glass cover.

It will be essential to select the proper infrared radiation direction if the heater is mounted on the floor using a tripod or stand. Not intended for use on plastic products, furniture, or appliances in the home. Otherwise, the varnish might get stained, cloudy, or peel.


User reviews indicate that the cheap price and wide variety of models are the main reasons people buy heat fans. A fan heater with the same capacity and brand name can be purchased for two to three times the price of an infrared heater. This is roughly equivalent to a heat gun’s price.

Choosing between an infrared heater and a heat fan for your home heating and insulation needs involves considering several key factors. Infrared heaters operate by emitting infrared radiation that heats objects and people directly, providing a gentle and efficient warmth similar to natural sunlight. They are silent, produce no drafts, and can be energy efficient for spot heating. On the other hand, heat fans work by blowing air over heated elements, quickly warming up the air in a room. They are generally more affordable upfront and can heat up spaces rapidly. However, heat fans can be noisier, may create dryness in the air, and might not distribute heat as evenly as infrared heaters. When deciding which to choose, consider your priorities: if you value silent operation, even heat distribution, and targeted warmth without drying out the air, an infrared heater might be the better option. Conversely, if you prioritize quick heating, affordability, and don"t mind a bit of noise, a heat fan could be the more suitable choice for your home heating needs. Ultimately, the decision should be based on your specific requirements and preferences regarding heating efficiency, comfort, and noise levels.

The unique requirements and features of each kind of equipment should be considered when choosing between infrared heaters and heat fans for your house. Both solutions have unique benefits and disadvantages that may affect your comfort level and energy economy.

Instead of warming the air, infrared heaters operate by producing infrared radiation that warms surfaces and objects in a room directly. Since this method doesn’t waste energy heating the entire volume of air, it may be more energy-efficient. Instantaneous warmth is provided by infrared heaters, which work especially well for outdoor or small-space spot heating. Since they rely on an object’s capacity to absorb and hold heat, they are less effective in larger rooms or areas with inadequate insulation.

Heat fans, also known as space heaters, work differently. They quickly raise the surrounding temperature in a space by forcing heated air into it. They are frequently lightweight and simple to operate, and they work well for heating enclosed spaces. Heat fans are a good option for rapidly heating a space, but because they heat the air instead of objects directly, they may not be as effective as infrared heaters. If not used appropriately, they could also create more noise and present a safety risk.

It’s important to take your home’s layout and heating requirements into account when deciding which type of heater to buy. An infrared heater might be the best choice for you if you need to heat specific areas or need a heater that can be used outside. On the other hand, a heat fan might be more appropriate if you need to heat larger spaces or need a portable heating solution.

In the end, a number of factors, including convenience, safety concerns, heating performance, and energy efficiency, will determine whether you choose a heat fan or an infrared heater. It’s critical to evaluate your priorities and select the heater that best fits your needs and budget because each option has pros and cons.

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Sergey Ivanov

I like to help people create comfort and comfort in their homes. I share my experience and knowledge in articles so that you can make the right choice of a heating and insulation system for your home.

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