The question of how many “BTU’s” (British Thermal Units) do far infrared heaters produce is frequently asked in order to determine “standard” heat-loss calculations. These calculations are widely accepted since these have evolved over a period of well over a hundred years.
The problem is that conventional formulas don’t completely apply to this “new” heating technology. With far infrared energy there is no direct correlation between Watts of energy used and BTUs.
Far infrared technology is unique; it is different from traditional convection technologies. Far infrared heat is based on the principle of energy storage and emission, not by heating the air.
The far infrared heat energy travels through the space and is absorbed and stored in the floor, walls, people and all objects within that space. As a result, heat energy is emitted back into the space, which creates an overall saturation of far infrared warmth. When this effect is achieved, the natural response is to lower the thermostat. The energy is stored and because we do not send a mass of hot air to the ceiling, or to the outside world when a door opens, much less energy is used compared to traditional methods.
Energy conversion facts:
The differences between far infrared technology and traditional heating systems:
Energy efficiency relative to panel placement-
Although there is no direct correlation between BTU and far infrared energy requirements, depending on the type of building and the particulars of the installation, the typical “equivalent COP” based on many installations worldwide is between 1.5 and 3.
To address this further we can make a comparison between geothermal, a system that uses a similar amount of energy, and Ducoterra’s SolaRay far infrared heating panels.
The operating costs of Ducoterra heaters and a good Geothermal system in mild winters are very similar. The industry claims that geothermal operates at a COP of 3. But as the temperature drops for prolonged periods, far infrared heating panels can easily outperform geothermal by as much as 2:1. With far infrared heating panel acquisition costs at only a fraction of what one would pay for a reasonable geothermal system, and when one adds the maintenance expenses to the operating costs of geothermal, far infrared panels clearly come out the winner. Many Geothermal customers who are dissatisfied with the performance, augment their systems with far infrared heaters for this very reason.
As with any type of heating or heating product, if the energy is carried away faster than it can be stored, the system will not work correctly; never cut corners by under-installing as the system would need to work “all the time”. A properly installed system will shut off and cycle to save energy.