Hull-based company iHelios has developed a system of using temperature controlled, energy-efficient electric infrared ‘wallpaper’ to heat homes and businesses which may have the potential to replace traditional central heating systems.
The ‘smart’ heating system from iHelios uses a wafer-thin heating film that is placed within the ceiling, under floors, or in panels, and is linked up to the electric and a control system, and is operated via a phone app.
Reduced Energy Consumption
The company says that the system reduced energy consumption by between 30 to nearly 100%.
How Does Infrared Heating Work, And Is It Safe?
Infrared heating works by emitting infrared radiation, a type of electromagnetic radiation with longer wavelengths than visible light. The radiation is absorbed by objects in the room, causing them to heat up i.e., it actually heats people and objects in the room rather that heating the air like traditional central heating does. Although it’s similar to microwave heating in that it uses electromagnetic radiation to heat objects, infrared heating (also known as ‘radiant heating’), uses lower frequency electromagnetic radiation in the infrared spectrum to heat objects and, therefore, poses no danger of cooking anything in the room.
Infrared heating is generally considered to be safe because infrared heaters emit low levels of electromagnetic radiation, similar to the radiation produced by the sun. This type of radiation is not harmful to humans or pets and doesn’t produce harmful by-products, such as carbon monoxide.
Benefits Over Radiator-Based Heating
Infrared heaters come in a variety of forms, including panel heaters, infrared heating lamps, and portable infrared heaters, and now film-based system. Some of the key benefits of using an infrared heating system such as the film-based system from iHelios include:
- They don’t use convection, so dust, pollen and other allergens aren’t circulated thereby making them healthier for some people.
- They act fast. These systems can warm you up within minutes rather than having to wait for hot water to circulate round the system, warm the air and then warm you.
- They can reduce heating bills. For example, the iHelios system is high efficiency, and has low energy consumption – it and can save up to 66% in energy consumption. The company says that, when combined with solar panels (photovoltaic installation), it can achieve near ‘free’ heating. This can also make it a more sustainable and environmentally friendly option. Also, the iHelios system can turn itself on and off (saving money) and maintain its temperature.
- They can be extremely easy to control. For example, the iHelios film-based system is controlled using an app, each room is controlled by an individual thermostat, it can be set low or turned off entirely (using the app), and it can be programmed to turn on automatically e.g., as you come home from work.
- They can save space and make a home or business look tidier i.e., no radiators.
- They can be installed across all property types and benefit a wide range of commercial sectors e.g., M&E consultants, property developers, builders, social and private landlords, architects, SAP assessors, and interior designers.
Is It More Environmentally Friendly Than Gas Central Heating?
From an environmental perspective, infrared heating has some advantages over gas central heating. For example, infrared heating doesn’t produce harmful by-products, such as carbon monoxide and nitrogen oxides, which are released when natural gas is burned. This makes infrared heating a cleaner and safer heating option, particularly for people with respiratory problems.
Infrared heating is also more energy efficient than gas central heating, since it heats objects and people directly, rather than heating the air. This means that less energy is lost through convection, the process by which heat is transferred from one place to another by the movement of a fluid, such as air or water.
However, it is important to note that the environmental impact of infrared heating depends on the source of the electricity used to power the heater. If the electricity comes from a clean, renewable, and sustainable energy source, such as wind or solar power, then the overall environmental impact of infrared heating will be low. However, if the electricity comes from a fossil fuel-based energy source, such as coal or natural gas, then the environmental impact of infrared heating will be higher.
What Does This Mean For Your Organisation?
Having a heating system that is energy efficient, easy to control from an app, heats up fast, doesn’t use convection (heat the air) but just heats the people and objects in a room can make life easier, and provide significant cost savings.
If powered by an environmentally friendly and sustainable energy source, such as solar panels, infrared heating systems could help reduce carbon emissions and help the planet. Systems like the iHelios ‘wallpaper’ style system could offer an efficient, effective, and cost saving way to heat business premises such as hotels, offices, and other commercial spaces.
Retro-fitting a premises with a film, however, may still require some disruption in order to place the film, as suggested, within ceiling or under floors, although it could be put in panels. The initial outlay for the system may also be costly. That said, its controllability, savings over time, health and possible environmental benefits may make it an attractive new prospect for many businesses and organisations.
By Mike Knight