What Are Infrared Space Heaters and How Do They Work?

Updated: Apr. 10, 2024

Is an infrared space heater right for your space? We've talked to some experts to summarize what they are, how they work, and what makes them a good or bad fit for your home.

Heating costs are on the rise this year, so many homeowners are looking for the best way to heat their homes. One newer option on the market is an infrared space heater.

What is an Infrared Space Heater?

Barry Gray, an archeologist, woodworker and founder of The Tool Square, says infrared space heaters rely on infrared radiation. While they tend to distribute heat in a narrow beam, you might heat a whole room with one unit depending on the layout and size of your home.

Unlike a wood or gas-powered fireplace, these heaters generally run on electricity. The good news is, you don’t have to stock up on fuel. But in the event of a power outage, you should have a backup plan.

How is an Infrared Space Heater Different from Other Space Heaters?

Many other types of space heaters rely on convection to heat the air in a room. Besides being noisy, they can also stir up any dust and dirt in the air. Depending on their settings, they may also draw a lot of energy.

Scott DePeralta, of Scott DePeralta Consulting, LLC, says infrared space heaters don’t actually heat the air. Rather, they generate heat and direct it toward objects in their path. That increases efficiency and lets you target certain areas. Get to know how much electricity a space heater use.


Matt Haas, a journeyman and electrician of 15 years, says infrared heaters offer lots of benefits compared to other models. If you’ve got a dust sensitivity or breathing condition, he says an infrared space heater may be a good fit. Kami Turky, CEO of Solar Energy Hackers, says infrared space heaters are also eco-friendly since they don’t generate carbon dioxide emissions.

And infrared space heaters are often in the same price range as other kinds. While there are expensive models out there, you don’t have to break the bank to stay warm.


Christen Costa, CEO of Gadget Review, says it’s always best to keep children and pets away from the heaters. Safety should be your top priority no matter what kind of space heater you have. As with other models, never use an extension cord or power strip.

Haas says because infrared space heaters don’t use convection the way other models do, the air in the room may still feel cool — similar to a cool but sunny day. If you stand in the sun for a while, you may feel hotter, but the air around you will still be chilly.