fan heater vs radiant heater

fan heater vs radiant heater

Heat Transfer in Heater Systems: Comparing Fan Heaters and Radiant Heaters

When it comes to heating a room or a large area, two viable options to consider are a fan heater and a radiant heater. To determine which is the best option for a particular situation, it is important to understand the differences between the two as well as how they move and transfer heat. This article will analyze both fan and radiant heaters, comparing the differences in their efficiency in transferring heat.

Fan Heaters

A fan heater is a type of convection heating system. Although there are some electric fan heaters, most fan heaters use natural gas or propane to heat electric coils. The fan then draws the hot air from the heater’s coils and circulates it around the room much like a ceiling fan. As the air circulates it causes a convection cycle that moves the warmer air to higher places as the cooler air falls. The end result is a continuous cycle of warm air being heated and disbursed around the room.

One advantage of a fan heater is that it can heat a room quickly because air is circulated throughout the area at a much faster rate than with a radiant heater. Additionally, fan heaters can be used in larger and more open spaces, making them a great choice for heating a large area.

However, there are some downsides to a fan heater. First, since they require forced air, fan heaters can spread dust, pollen and allergens around the room which could further aggravate allergies or asthma. Also, while fan heaters may not be visible like other types of heaters, they can be loud, making them best suited for large open areas like a garage, rather than a bedroom or office.

Radiant Heaters

Radiant heaters are different from fan heaters in that they only rely on radiation to heat a space. This means that the heat is transferred directly from the heater’s surface to the objects or people in its path. Compared to convection, which requires the movement of air to heat a space, radiation does not need air. Therefore, radiant heaters are more effective in areas where air circulation is difficult, such as attics or basements.

Radiant heaters are best used in smaller, enclosed areas where air circulation may be limited. Since they do not rely on air circulation, they are able to evenly and quickly heat small spaces with minimal noise.

Unlike fan heaters, radiant heaters do not spread dust, pollen or other allergens, making them ideal for those who suffer from allergies or asthma. In addition, radiant heaters are typically less expensive and easier to maintain than fan heaters.


Choosing a fan heater or a radiant heater ultimately depends on the application and the size and structure of the space to be heated. Fan heaters are best suited for large, open spaces and are effective in heating these areas quickly. However, they can spread dust, pollen, and allergens and can also be loud. On the other hand, radiant heaters are more effective for smaller, enclosed spaces and are easier and less expensive to maintain. They heat the space without having to move the air and will not spread dust, pollen and allergens around the room.

Ultimately, the right heating solution will depend on the particular application and how you plan to use the heater. While both fan heaters and radiant heaters have their advantages and disadvantages, it is important to understand how each type of heater works so that you can make the most educated decision.

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