Your ceiling heating panel questions answered

You may have never considered heating your home or office from above, but ceiling heating panels are a thing and are more popular than you might think- yet you’ve never really noticed them because they are discrete yet incredibly effective. Ceiling heating is a type of heating that works by placing heating panels over an area of a ceiling and these panels radiate heat into the room. The benefit is that they don’t take up valuable floor space, are discreet and can be very effective if used correctly.

Benefits of radiant ceiling heating panels

✓  100% energy efficient

✓  Discrete with aesthetic design

✓  Provide an even temperature from ceiling to floor

✓  Can be zoned for use in occupied areas only- energy saving

✓  Controlled by individual thermostats

✓  Provide same thermal comfort with lower air temperature

✓  Easy installation- flush or suspended 

✓  No maintenance

✓  Noise, dust and odour-free

✓  Non-drying

✓  Non-allergenic

How do they work? 

There are TWO main types of ceiling heating systems, depending on how the heat is distributed: 

  • Water-fed ceiling heating
  • Electric ceiling heating

Water-fed ceiling heaters as the name suggests uses water to heat the panels and works by distributing low flow temperature water throughout pipes within the heating panel ensuring a consistently comfortable air temperature. The water comes from a boiler (be it gas, propane, solar, electricity powered) and is called a ‘wet’ heating system. This provides heat through convection and the panels are installed in a ceiling grid that replace ceiling tiles or are suspended from the ceiling itself. The benefits of this type of system is that much less water is required compared to traditional radiator systems and it heats up more quickly due to less water being used and this adds up to a cost saving, especially if heating is zoned. In commercial settings, this type of heating can save 25% of a building’s energy costs. 

Electric ceiling heaters produce heat powered by electricity. Heat can be transferred by convection or radiation. Convection heating is when the heat produced is transferred by the movement of air which in turn heats the objects and people in its vicinity (such as standard radiators or underfloor heating). Radiant heating means that heat is transferred by electromagnetic waves which causes particles in solid objects such as people, furniture, walls and floors to produce heat themselves. This heat is then re-emitted back into the space from these objects.  

Radiant heating has been around for a long time but in recent times has become more and more popular as consumers see how energy efficient this technology is. So, you are likely to hear a lot more about radiant heating such as infrared heating as it continues to grow in popularity in both domestic and commercial settings.  

What are radiant ceiling heaters? 

Ceiling heaters that use radiant heat, such as infrared, heat the room from above. As radiant heating doesn’t work by convection, then it doesn’t heat the air in the room but rather works much like the sun does, transmitting a type of electromagnetic wave that is invisible to the human eye, but we can feel as heat that is felt by both you and the objects in its path such as the furniture, walls and flooring, which in turn absorbs the heat and releases it slowly. This is the same way the sun produces heat- on a crisp, chilly day you will feel a nice warm glow on your face when you are standing in the sun, even if the air temperature around you is cool, the sun is transmitting infrared heat energy to you. 

So radiant heating such as infrared ceiling panels are not simply radiators on the ceiling, they are different in that they don’t heat the air and therefore are much more energy efficient in converting electricity into heat output.

Each panel can be controlled individually per room using individual thermostats, so you only use them in rooms that are in use so there is no wasted energy consumption- they work like a simple light switch and because they are relatively quick to heat up, you don’t need to pre-heat rooms in advance. 

This system doesn’t require the use of forced air so there is no air flow coming from the heating panel or vents, no draughty circulation of air or dust and air quality is better than with convection heating. With no vents or fans, you don’t need filters and therefore maintenance is not necessary. Also, radiant heating produces no condensation and can help with dampness and prevent mould build up. 

For this reason, infrared ceiling heaters are also ideal for spaces that are poorly insulated or partly open air such as porches, conservatories, workshops, offices, sports facilities etc. 

Heating from underfloor or ceiling? 

Underfloor heating works by convection heating the air that then rises. Ceiling panels work by radiation that heats solid objects in the room below without needing to heat the air at all. By putting your heating panels on the ceiling, you are not compromising on the type of flooring you can use- some floor coverings, such as wood or carpet, are not suitable to go over underfloor heating as they are too resistant and will block the heat output preventing the heat being distributed. Ceiling heating panels are unobstructed and take up no precious space in your home and can be installed discretely on the ceiling so you won’t even notice they are there. 

Ceiling heating is a widely popular option for office and retail space where heating panels are easily installed as part of a suspended ceiling system that is discreet and does not take up valuable space. 

Are Radiant ceiling heating panels safe? 

With the development of newer, greener heating technologies, more people are looking for more efficient and cleaner ways to heat their homes. Infrared heating panels don’t operate like conventional convection heating which warms air. Instead, the panels use Far infrared technology, which have surged in popularity over the past few years for domestic use.

Panels emit Far-infrared radiation that travels until it hits a solid object, that then absorbs the energy and heats up. Far infrared is the longest wavelength, it produces no visible light and the temperature produced is much lower, therefore they are safer to be around. They take a bit longer to heat up, up to ten minutes, but they remain hot for much longer after they have been switched off. 

The other infrared type you may have seen is Near infrared which is the shortest infrared wavelength and is used in high intensity heating systems such as the well-known bar heaters that glow red (visible light) and are commonly used outdoors in terrace heaters and appliances such as cookers. They get very hot and if you get too close, you can easily burn or damage your skin. When switched on, they heat up instantly, when switched off, they stop emitting heating immediately. Near Infrared is used to heat up small spaces quickly and only for the duration of its use. They are also used a lot in street cafes to provide a heat source above the outside seats. For obvious reasons, near infrared is being used less in homes given that far infrared can be safer. 

Neither of these should be confused with UV light which is the other side of the light spectrum and is harmful. 

In the same way that conventional radiators are hot to touch, panels are hot to touch when they are turned on so it is recommended that they are placed at a height that is out of reach of children and the elderly. This is why placing panels on the ceiling can be a safer option. In every case, it is always recommended to have ceiling panels installed by a qualified electrician.  

Where to place Infrared ceiling heaters 

Infrared radiation travels from the surface of the panel at an angle of 45 degrees in every direction, so placing them centred over the area to be heated as much as possible is key to getting the most out of your panel. Placing them too close to a wall or a corner will lead to too much heat being directed in an area and wasted. Your supplier should be able to best advise you around the area you are looking to heat. 

Different panels have different wattage outputs depending on the size of the panel. They should be at least 1.5 m above the floor for anything over 600 watts. Placing them too close to the floor or indeed too far away, if you have high ceilings, will lead to you not getting the best results from your infrared ceiling panels. 

With infrared heating systems becoming more and more modern in their approach to creating a heating system that blends in seamlessly with the décor of your home, ceiling heating can also come in the form of stylish suspended fixtures that provide heating as well as interior design features.   

For more industrial or retail settings, suspended fixtures such as the redwell 2IN1- Heat & Light is an innovative infrared heater with an integrated light source that is suspended from the ceiling.  

Heating is an important part of your home given that it is one of the most expensive aspects because it is crucial for your comfort and well-being. Looking into all of your options and finding the right heating system is worth investing in. Consult your local retailer for any information you need about infrared ceiling heating panels, they will advise you on what your best options are.