Is Infrared Heat Safe? 4 Areas Of Caution

infrared heater on table of porch

If you have been shopping for a space heater or patio heater, you’ve likely been considering the various types and are getting closer to settling on what you think is the ideal heat source. Perhaps you’re considering infrared patio heaters and are wondering, is infrared heat safe?

Is Infrared Heat Safe Compared To Propane?

Of course, there are other heater options as well. Maybe you’ve considered a propane patio heater.  These were the first commonly used patio heaters on the market. In fact, they’re often what people think of when they picture a patio heater.  Alternatively, maybe you’ve thought of getting a resistance electric space heater. A common complaint is that you might not enjoy how they smell or the risk of fire.  

Ultimately, one of the most commonly considered heat sources is infrared. Though much has been discussed regarding propane heater safety, and the dangers of resistance electric heaters, what about infrared?  Is infrared heat safe?

Is Infrared Heat Safe?

When asking the question is infrared heat safe, the short answer is yes. Infrared heater is very safe provided you’re aware of the potential dangers we discuss in this article. On the topic, it’s important to differentiate between infrared and ultraviolet.  When you are out in the sunshine, and you feel the warm rays of the sun on your skin, that is infrared.  The warming radiation coming from the sun is the infrared spectrum light.  The dangerous light from the sun is the Ultraviolet.  The Ultraviolet (UV) rays are what cause sunburns and eventually skin cancer among other ailments.

two heaters on a porch deck showing is infrared heat safe as yes as long as they're on a timer

What infrared heaters are is a light source shining only the infrared spectrum.  This means the heaters provide you with rays of warmth but don’t have any risk of causing a sunburn.  However, this doesn’t mean infrared heaters are one hundred percent safe. There’s some things that can go wrong.  On the contrary, there are health and safety concerns with infrared heat and we’ll go over them below.

Heat Stroke

The first risk with infrared is heat stroke.  If you are in an infrared sauna for example, you will notice you and your skin heat up immediately.  It’s important to give yourself a timer to make sure you don’t spend too much time in a sauna.  An infrared space heater on the other hand is highly unlikely to cause any overheating risk. This is because you’ll simply switch the heater off when you’ve reached a comfortable temperature.  

Sensitive People

When you have sensitive people around, be extra careful. These include babies, children or the elderly. When you’re using an infrared heater to warm up the room, it’s a good idea to put the heater on a timer.  It’s also a good idea to never to leave the room when the heater is in operation.  Infrared heat can cause similar ailments to excess heat from the sun if left running too hot.

Indirect Concern

Another health concern is indirect.  That is the health concern of not having adequate electrical wiring to support the heating source.  This is important if you live in an older home, or a home which was wired decades ago. It’s crucial to review the electrical requirements for a heater.  Even plug in models have high electricity demands which may exceed the circuit for the room you are in.  Ideally, the breaker will blow before the wires in the walls heat up.  However, if your electrical system is old and not well maintained, the breaker may not blow. Then, you may end up creating resistance electric heat inside your walls by forcing too much electricity through your old wiring.

Electrical Overload

It’s best to avoid ever overloading your electrical system.  Much like using an air conditioner, you must review the electrical demands prior to starting up the unit and assuming everything will be fine.  When in doubt, call an electrician to review the current state of your electrical wiring.  Licensed electricians are an invaluable part of proper fire protection. For this reason the National Electrical Code (NEC) is a part of the National Fire Protection Association code (NFPA).

Is Infrared Heat Safe Summary

Ultimately when considering is infrared heat safe, the answer is absolutely.  This doesn’t mean you can’t ignore the potential risks of an electrical appliance which uses significant electrical load.  Additionally you can’t ignore the risk of creating an unsafe, overheated environment. This is especially dangerous for those incapable of communicating or helping themselves.

If you take basic precautions, you will be thankful you made the choice to add infrared heat to your lifestyle. Infrared heat devices are often easier to control than propane. This is a major reason why you may want to consider them for your patio heater or sauna.