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Is “Infrared Wallpaper” any good?
There have been a number of low voltage, very thin, carbon based heating products in the form of “Wallpaper”, in-wall, ceiling or underfloor mats that have recently appeared on the market promoting themselves as “Infrared”, “far infrared” and / or “Radiant” heating technologies. Typically these systems are low voltage (via transformers) heat mats which can be installed to cover a large area within walls, ceilings and floors.
These heating systems reach a maximum of 40°C surface temperature and are usually much cooler once covered with plaster, carpet, paint etc. For the reasons explained below, these systems usually demonstrate a relatively low percentage of radiant (infrared) heat, with most of the heat energy being in the form of convection and conduction. It is therefore misleading to make claims of these systems as being “Infrared” or “Radiant” heating solutions and they cannot be classified as radiant (infrared) heating systems under UK and international electrical standards.
To have radiant (infrared) heat, you must have a distinct temperature difference between the heater and the things it is trying to heat. The following diagram shows the difference in radiated energy between 3 objects: one at 25°C (roughly surface temperature of human skin); 50°C (i.e. central heating radiator) and one at 100°C (i.e. Infrared Heating panel).
You can see from the diagram that the radiant heat transfer between something at 50°C and another at 25°C is very small: around 0.2 watts per meter. This is barely discernible on the skin as radiant heat and you can easily test this yourself by moving your bare arm closer and closer to a central heating radiator until you can sense the heat. (You almost have to touch it).
Contrast this with an Infrared panel at 100°C and an object at 25°C where the heat transfer is about 1 watt per meter and easily discernible on the skin up to a couple of meters away from the panel.
At 40C and only 0.004 watts per cm2, the emissive IR properties of “Infrared Wallpaper” will be negligible. All the wallpaper is doing is slowing down the rate of heat loss by conduction from the walls and ceilings (indeed suppliers urge you not to place it on outside walls at all). Otherwise it is just warming the air in the room. We don’t dismiss that this might be effective in some way if you cover enough of your walls and ceilings with it. However, at 40°C and 0.004w/cm2 Electric Infrared Wallpaper cannot claim to be radiant (or Infrared) and claim the benefits that infrared heating has over convection.
The international (IEC) standard for performance of household radiators actually considers heated wallpapers (or any heater at or below 40°C) as out of scope for radiant performance assessment. This is for the reasons described above and shown very clearly by the diagram: there is too little transmissiveness of radiant heat as a proportion of the total power consumption to allow the heaters to claim they are radiant (as opposed to convective or conductive).
IG Infrared https://www.ig-infrared.com/en/home.html is the EU Infrared manufacturers trade association and defines infrared heaters as requiring a minimum surface temperature of 75°C and a minimum watts coverage over the panel surface of 0.09w/cm2 to qualify as “Infrared Heaters” (wallpaper watts coverage is 0.004w/cm2).
We have had a number of customers who have installed this type of heating say it has not lived up to expectations and have switched to our infrared heating panels.