What Is a Panel Heater?

A panel heater, also known as a radiant panel heater, produces heat by transfer of radiant heat, usually by infrared waves. They are lightweight, allowing the unit to be mounted easily and installed to radiate heat in any direction.


Radiant panel heaters are used in a wide variety of applications and industries, including drying, space heating, water evaporation, material preparation, curing and food processing. Because of their thin body construction, they are perfect for use in bathrooms and anywhere a large bulky heating apparatus would be inappropriate. The stainless steel variety is often used in areas that require the surface to be sterilised.


Panel heaters work by heating a large infrared surface made of stainless steel, ceramic, quartz cloth or high temperature glass, with quartz cloth heaters being the most common type. Because the heating occurs over a larger area than with other types of space heaters, there is less chance of uneven heating. Their constant temperature ensures the outside of the unit does not reach the extreme temperatures experienced with other types of space heaters, thus reducing the chance of being burnt with this type of heater over other types.


There is virtually no decrease in the output of the heater as it ages. Because about 80 per cent of the energy is absorbed by the panel material, there is a reduction in the cost required to run the unit. The back panel of the unit is also insulated to prevent heat loss. Radiant flat panel heaters can be modified to include such features as overheat protection, corrosive resistance and explosion proofing. Because this type of heater does not use a reflective panel, there is no time lost cleaning the unit. If you are planning to use the radiant flat panel heater as a space heater in your home, there are distributors that will modify the unit to match the interior of your home.


Radiant panel heaters, like almost all other space heaters, pose a risk of fire. They should never be used in an area that is contaminated with flammable vapours, combustible materials or gases without proper ventilation. They are not waterproof and if used in an area that is prone to moisture condensation they should be properly grounded. They should not be placed in an area where direct contact with liquids may occur.


Radiant flat panel heaters are available in a huge variety of sizes and wattages. Some are available for use on 110 volt current, but most require a higher watt voltage supply, depending upon their size. The most common sizes require a 240 volt current, and should be placed on their own breaker. Most radiant panel heaters will operate on a phase one current, but some will require a phase three current, depending on the wattage.

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