Electric patio heater 'questions & answers'
In this article we ask the burning questions about infrared heaters, if you're looking for a patio heater or outdoor heating in general it's important to know you've got the right energy source, power output and type of heat wave which generated by the heater to best warm the area you're looking to heat.
Our focus in this article is on Infrared, what makes it ideal for outdoors heating and what are benefits when compared to other types of outdoor heaters. If you want to find out more about infrared light, it's worth checking out our article on the health benefits of infrared.
Q. What is the cost of running an outdoor infrared heater?
A. This depends on the power of your heater, however, as an example a 1.5kW heater will cost on average 15p per hour. A good estimate is 10p per kW per hour per lamp.
Q. What if it's raining, can I install heaters anywhere?
A. Many heaters are specifically designed to run in very wet environments and you will find several on this site that have IP ratings. An IP rating is a certificated confirmation that the particular unit is capable of working in either a dusty or wet environment. Any rating ending in a 4 or 5 i.e. IP65 is effectively completely weather resistant and can be installed in almost any outdoor situation.
Q. How can a heater without a glass front be water and weatherproof?
A. In the weatherproof models the heating lamp itself does not get anywhere near as hot as a conventional light and can actually operate submersed in water! In the units without a glass front, the essential electronics are sealed in a water tight compartment.
Q. Can the heaters be wired together or must they all be individual and how do I know if I can put a plug on and use it on a normal 13A socket?
A. If in doubt, always seek the advise of a qualified electrician, however, as a general rule, a standard 13A plug socket can take up to 3kW of heaters. That can be 4 x 750W Tansun Carnival, 2 x Helios Top 1.5kW or anything else as long as the total wattage is below 3kW. Once you go above 3kW it is necessary for a qualified electrician to wire a suitably rated spur and for him to connect the heaters up to it along with any switches required.
Q. What sort of maintenance is required and how long do the bulbs last?
A. A standard lamp should last from 5,000 to 7,000 hours of use. Ie if used for 5 hours per day every day of the year, the lamp will last between 3 and 4 years before it needs replacing!
There is no essential maintenance needed, however, there are a few recommended things you can do to extend the life of your system. On glass fronted units, it is recommended that after the 1st hour of use the glass is removed and the reflector behind wiped clean. This is a one off procedure that will extend the life and quality of heat emitted from the lamp. Also, slow start switches are said (by the manufacturers) to increase the life of the lamp by up to 30%.
Q. Can the heaters be controlled automatically and what types of controls are available, especially for bars, pubs and clubs?
A. Yes. There are various means to control the heaters. In the home environment perhaps a variable controller might be useful, however, this would only be so on the more powerful units.
In a commercial environments such as restaurants, bars, public houses, club patios and rooftops, swimming pools and large buildings it is often useful to control both the amount of heat being emitted and also the periods when the systems are actually on. We provide a range of switches that operate on: push button timers, coin operated times and movement sensors. These can in turn also be linked into remote controls that will control individual heaters and the heat from each one within a given environment.
Q. Can I make a profit from infrared patio heaters?
A. We now sell a coin operated switch ideal for outside a premises where smokers might gather. This will allow the owner to charge whatever tariff he/she feels appropriate. An example is that a standard 2kW unit will cost approx 10P per hour to run in electricity. If charging perhaps £1 for 15 minutes usage, this equates to a profit of £3.90/hr per heater. For a few smokers in winter, £1 is not a lot to keep warm and 100 hours use will pay for the whole system!!!
Q. How much noise do infrared heaters make?
A. None apart from the Tansun Bermuda that has a small cooling fan inside.
Q. Which heaters are best suited for commercial or retail environments, such as pubs, clubs, restaurants and bars?
A. Like most things, quality costs more, however, it also tends to last longer! Please call us with your specific needs and we will recommend whatever is appropriate.
Q. Are infrared patio heaters dangerous and do they give off any fumes or radiation?
A. No they are not dangerous and they do not give of any smells, fumes, radiation harmful rays. They are of course hot and should never be positioned where children or intoxicated patrons might behave inappropriately!
Q. Can infrared patio heaters effect my skin and give me a tan or sunburn?
A. No, there is no risk of this whatsoever. Sun tans are derived from the UV spectrum of light whilst our systems all use infrared light. This is the same light that warms your skin from the sun and is completely safe.
Q. How many heaters will I need to heat my area?
A. It is difficult to generalise, however, 1kW will heat about 5 m2. So a patio that measures 5m x 4m (total 20m) will require about 6-7kW of heaters. Another big factor is exposure of the area to the elements so an enclosed walled courtyard area will need less heat per m2 than an open exposed area such the end of a garden.
Q. What type of installation is needed and can I do it myself?
A. Above 3kW and it is a job for a qualified electrician. Below that, wall mounted units can be fixed by anyone with the ability to drill a few holes and put a plug in.
Q. How environmentally sound are electric infrared patio heaters, especially compared with gas patio heaters?
A. Electric heating is safe, sound, odourless, silent and emission free. It is 100% efficient unlike gas heaters which lose approximately 70% of their heat by way of emissions into the air. Quartz infrared heaters direct their energy into a beam that only heats the objects it touches rather than heating the air in between.
Q. How long do the heaters take to warm up?
A. The heat is instant. As the heater is turned on, so anyone within it's range will feel the heat in exactly the way you feel the sun's heat when it pops out from behind a cloud.