Infrared radiation: What it is and how it works

Directly from the Sun this is a natural, flexible and cheap heating way, suitable for any kind of industrial premises, sheds, warehouses, hangars and railway workshops and sports environments.

In a lovely winter day, passing from a shade zone to a sunny one, we get an immediate feeling of warmness. This means that it is not the air, which has a constant temperature everywhere, that causes heating but it is rather the direct exposure to sunlight.

This natural propagation of heat is called radiation and consists in the transmission of the long and soft waves of infrared rays contained in the spectrum of the Sun’s electromagnetic energy.

What does radiation mean?

Radiation is a natural phenomenon consisting in the emission of energy in the form of electromagnetic waves, the intensity of which depends on the temperature of the irradiated or heated bodies, which leads to a change in temperature in the absorbing bodies, or those who receive it.
The same principle by which the Sun, through the emitted energy, can reach and heat the Earth.

This energy is called “infrared radiation“.
The term “infrared”, or lower than red, indicates that its frequency is just below that of the red color of visible light. Each body, therefore, emits radiation in this band, if its temperature is greater than absolute zero (the temperature of 0 K (Kelvin) equal to -273.15°C).

The higher the body temperature, the higher its heat output and therefore infrared radiation.

What are the properties of infrared radiation?

The properties of infrared radiation are multiple.
Among the main ones we find the following:

  1. they are propagated in straight lines, in all directions and they are reflected only by some materials;
  2. they propagate naturally in vacuum without no need of additional energy;
  3. they are not absorbed by air;
  4. they are absorbed by the solid bodies that transform them immediately into thermal power.

How does irradiation work in industrial buildings?

Not only for the recent domestic radiant system for small environments, but for the most consolidated applications for the heating of large industrial areas, the radiant heating is one of the best solution in the market.

The emitting surfaces are hung from the ceiling of the room to be heated, so that the floor, machines and persons to be heated are contacted directly and without dispersion. Depending on the area to be heated, the various heat emitters are distributed over the area so as obtain uniformity in the heat flow.

The first sensation one has upon entering a room heated with infrared radiation is one of comfort.

What are the main advantages of an infrared system?

For the same comfort, a radiant heating system offers many advantages over a convection system.
Let’s take as an example the following image and let’s see what the advantages are comparing the two systems.

1. Greater comfort with lower air temperature

The perception of comfort in a room is not only connected to the air temperature (TA) (as usually thought), but also to the surfaces that surround the body (Average radiant temperature TMR).

In the graphic are analyzed the conditions of comfort for the operators in an industrial premise, working on tool machines, with medium grade clothes and air speed in the room not higher than 0.5 m/s. In presence of a convective system, the comfort can be obtained with an air and wall temperature of 17°C; using a radiant system, it is possible to reduce the air temperature to just 15°C, bringing the average radiant temperature to 22°C.

2. Lack of thermal gradient resulting in reduced dispersion

In rooms heated with radiant systems, the lack of a marked thermal gradient reduces air layering and therefore also the thermal load required to heat the room.

The figure to the side shows the air temperature when varying the height of a building with convective heating and another one with radiant heating. Note that, in case of convection system, thermal layering leads to very high temperatures in the upper part of the room, thus creating substantial increase in dispersion.

In the radiant one, the heat is instead concentrated in the lower part of the room, without heating the air near the ceiling. For this reason, infrared heating finds effective application especially in high-rise buildings, considerably reducing heat loss.

3. Well-being and respect for the environment

An industry that cares about the protection of the environment and the well-being of its human resources must adopt an industrial heating system working in two directions: reduce harmful emissions into the atmosphere and ensure maximum comfort in the workplace. The heat production in radiant systems takes place via gas-powered generators: gas is known to be a energy source with low environment impact combustion residues.

Where we work is where we can consider the advantages of this technology: no fluids in movement means no harmful currents and no movement of dust; the small temperature differences between high and low areas reduce heat layers in the air and phenomena of condensation on solid bodies; no forced warm air helps to maintain the right amount of oxygen.

4. Possibility to heat by zones

It is possible to heat single zones or workstations without having to heat the entire area. It is also possible to control ambient temperature zone by zone.

Large operative spaces are organised according to functions: management areas, production areas, warehousing space, passages. Each of these components – organically connected to the rest of the system – has its own identity even in terms of energy requirements.

For example, a production department with operators requires a constant comfortable temperature that is not needed in a transit area. Different heating needs can often be in strong conflict with the physical arrangement of workstations, differentiated in terms of function, but contained in one environment without separating and insulating elements. In these cases, the application of traditional heating techniques can be dispersive and inefficient: too much heat where is not needed, not enough where needed.

Today the new infrared technologies allow to overcome these limits once and for all, when suitably enhanced by strategic engineering able to optimise the three components of these systems: heat generators, radiant lines, electronic controls.

5. Fuel savings

The strong point of radiant heating is the best performance compared to other systems of equal potential, with clear savings (even more than 45%) in fuel consumption thanks to:

  • less dispersions due to a lower air temperature and less dispersions due to lack of thermal stratification;
  • shorter system working time, thanks to a low thermal inertia;
  • possibility to heat by zones, starting the system only when necessary.

The speed with which the system can be brought up to full operating power and the extremely low maintenance costs complete the economic conditions of radiant system.

6. No air movement, hence lack of suspended dust particles

In convection systems, dust and any other particles which may or may not be harmful due to manufacturing processes are constantly held suspended in the air due to the ventilation which is typical of those kinds of systems.

In radiant systems there is no air movement. This makes the adoption of radiant systems the perfect choice in any building with any manufacturing process.

EUCERK Carlieuklima radiant strips that take advantage on the principle of radiation

Our EUCERK radiant strips are the ideal solution to efficiently heat large areas such as industries, warehouses, warehouses, hangars and railway workshops and recreate healthy and comfortable workplaces, with considerable savings in economic and management terms.

If you are interested in installing a functional infrared system to heat your company to the fullest, discover more about EUCERK or contact us for more information.