Frequently asked questions

Technical questions

There are expertise from the Kaiserslautern University of Technology, the Institute of Fluid Mechanics & Heat Radiation of the Johannes Kepler University Linz and IBO GmbH.

In general, it can be said that no heating system (pellets, wood chips, oil, gas, heat pumps) that employs electricity consumers (motors, pumps, control valves, …) functions during a power cut. Therefore, in the case of systems using HELIOLITH infrared heating panels, one has to wait until the power is restored. However, owing to the fact that electric heating systems contain no consumers (motors, pumps, control valves,…) they obviously cannot be affected and a restart after a power cut is straightforward.

YES. Unless the HELIOLITH heating panel is fix-mounted on the wall or ceiling, it can be easily moved to a different position.

The HELIOLITH universal mounting can be reused or exchanged for any VESA bracket (tiltable, rotatable, turnable, extendable) that covers a 200 x 200 mm hole pattern.

A HELIOLITH heating panel can be mounted on a ceiling, but this is less efficient than installation on a wall. It is essential that a gap of ~100 mm be left between the panel and the ceiling.

A HELIOLITH heating panel should always radiate into the room and therefore be positioned like a “sun” that warms the surrounding area. Furnishings or other fittings should not be placed directly in front of the panel, as these would form a “cloud” and limit the radiated heat.

Wall installation is always preferable to mounting on the ceiling. Should one opt for one heating panel per room, this should be so positioned as to ensure that the most frequented area is warmed. The remaining space will receive a smaller percentage of the radiated heat, but will nonetheless be supplied with sufficient convective warmth.

The panels should be installed in ~10 m² areas, which will ensure that their radiated heat is used to good effect. The HELIOLITH heating panels should thus be arranged accordingly, which means that although in a room with a heating requirement of 70 W/m², one H40 (970 W) model would be sufficient for 13 m², with regard to a feeling of cosy warmth, it would be advisable to employ two H32 (each 621 W) models, or a combination of an H32 (621 W) and an H21 (267 W). Should a decision be made to use one heating panel per room, this should be so placed as to ensure that the most frequented area in the room receives radiated heat. The remaining space will receive a smaller percentage of the radiated heat, but will nonetheless be supplied with sufficient convective warmth.

Basically with infrared heating a lower room temperature in the night is only to be recommended conditionally and a temperature difference of around 1-2°C, to merely a limited extent.The raising of the temperature of infrared panels and the solid objects in the room requires almost more energy than continuous heating on an efficient level. Nonetheless, an individual heating strategy should bedrawn up for each respective application.

The heating load is the result of the calculation of the heat input required for the retention of a defined room temperature (as a comparison, in a car this is the hp or kW). A planner should carry out this calculation, which is standardised according to DIN EN 12831 and considers each room and zone individually. At the same time, the lowest anticipated outdoor temperature is decisive for the calculation, which has the aim of ascertaining what in the case of defined outdoor temperatures would constitute sufficient heating of all the rooms in a building. This is stated in watt (W) or kilowatt (kW) and in order to be able to better compare differing values, the energy requirement is expressed in terms of the heated surfaces. Therefore, the decisive unit is W/m².

The heating requirement calculation establishes the quantity of energy that must be supplied per floor area during a heating period in order to maintain the desired room temperature (similar to the fuel consumption in a car, e.g. 6.4 l/100 km). The heating requirement is defined in units of kilowatt hours (kWh). It relates to the total area (m²) for the period of a year (a): kWh/m²a and is largely dependent upon the quality of the building shell (construction design, insulation), the behaviour of the users (presence, room temperatures), hot water consumption and weather. As a rule, the heating requirement is a construction parameter and serves the definition of house energy standards.

We encounter infrared radiation (also known as IR or heat radiation) every day in the form of sunrays. In physical terms, IR radiation is an electromagnetic wave, which lies below the red end of the spectrum and in space spreads out along a wavelength of 780 nm to 1 mm. Every warm body emits IR radiation and the hotter the surface, the shorter the wavelength and the more intensive the radiation. Depending upon the wavelength, a differentiation is made between A, B and C radiation. If the temperature rises, the maximum radiation of the heat ray shifts to the shorter wavelength that runs up to visible light. When IR radiation touches our skin, we sense it as heat and it is this effect that is employed in an infrared heating system.

A differentiation is made between the three types IR-A, IR-B and IR-C.

Heat transfer takes place in accordance with the natural laws of optics. The heat from each warm material is radiated into the cooler surroundings. The air is penetrated virtually loss-free, without it being warmed and thus dried. It is precisely this effect that is used by IR heating and IR heating systems to warm rooms. Solid bodies such as walls, furniture and also humans absorb the heat radiation and then reflect it back into the room. Radiated heat is physiologically favourable and pleasant. It creates a positive sensation of warmth and results in a comforting feeling like that engendered by sunlight or an open fire.

In the case of convective heat, warmth is transmitted via gases or liquids (moving materials) and is largely predominant in all conventional heating systems (all water-bearing heating systems, central heating, convector heaters, …).

Infrared heating (IR heating) is based on the solar radiation principle. The radiated heat does not primarily warm the air, but rather roofs, the soil, objects and humans. The surroundings absorb the heat and subsequently emit it indoors (secondary radiation). As a result of this homogeneous warming, a pleasant interior climate is created and the rising warm air (convection) largely prevents heat losses and swirls of dust.

YES! An infrared heating system (IR heating system) consisting of several HELIOLITH infrared panels is a fully-fledged heating system, which is ideally suited to the warming of complete objects. Correct, individual dimensioning forms the basis of such systems and in fact, high-quality infrared heaters such as our HELIOLITH heating panels are to be recommended as the main source of warmth in principle domiciles. This is because they combine maximum comfort with minimum purchase costs and the lowest overall expense. Moreover, installation is simple, quick and resource-friendly.

HELIOLITH infrared heating panels are suitable for new buildings, extensions and renovated older properties. Correct and professional dimensioning that accounts for all relevant factors (e.g. insulation status, property location, …) is an important factor in this connection. A good building shell from an energetic standpoint makes a major contribution to minimising heat losses and efficient heating. Indeed, irrespective of the heating system, properties with poor insulation generally cause correspondingly higher consumption and maintenance costs. However, above all, the comfort offered by electrical IR heating surpasses that of all other systems and there are also no servicing expenses.

The reserves of gas and oil are not inexhaustible and are subject to major price fluctuations. Moreover, the environmental impact of various other forms of heating is well known (fine dust). Therefore, in the majority of cases, heating with electricity is sensible, as it can be generated using wind energy or photovoltaic (PV) and thus permits own power generation and hence the securing of a degree of independence. Infrared heating in combination with green electricity (e.g. from photovoltaic installations) results in a CO2-neutral energy mix and thus a household with a certain level of energetic autonomy. In addition, the fact that respected, major players in the water-bearing heating system field are already specialising in IR heating and the growing wish for increasingly efficient energy use in smart homes, both represent indications of the future importance of heating with electricity. There is a clear trend in the direction of automated, intelligent heating system controls for efficient energy use. For this reason alone, an infrared heating system is an ideal component in a smart home, as this controls the entire energy, supply and security system of the property, and is most easily and efficiently realised using electricity.

There are individual manufacturers that carry out long-term, endurance testing and permit external supervision, but at present no official studies are known. However, the fact that there are no moving parts in an infrared heating unit means that its service life is solely dependent upon the temperature resistance of the materials employed. Therefore, the life of a top quality infrared heating panel like those from HELIOLITH can extend to well over twenty years and our panels carry a ten-year warranty.

HELIOLITH heating panels can be installed by the buyer and then connected to the electricity mains with or without a control unit, using an ex-works supplied cable. However, because HELIOLITH is to be recommended as a continuous warming or heating system, we recommend that a recognised electrician or electrical company carry out assembly and installation (fixed connection to the electricity supply). We would also point out that for assembly and installation, reference should be made to the HELIOLITH infrared heating panel operating instructions.

Printing using the water transfer can extend over the panel edges.

High-resolution images/motifs with at least 3 MB can be produced on HELIOLITH panels using UV direct printing. Personal photos/motifs (from smartphones or digital cameras) may be employed, or one can download diverse images/motifs from a variety of websites either free or at reasonable expense (no screenshots!). Such websites include:

  1. https://www.pexels.com/
  2. https://negativespace.co/
  3. https://deathtothestockphoto.com/
  4. https://freerangestock.com/
  5. https://unsplash.com/
  6. https://stocksnap.io/
  7. https://nos.twnsnd.co/
  8. https://pixabay.com/de/
  9. https://picjumbo.com/
  10. https://startupstockphotos.com/
  11. https://kaboompics.com/
  12. https://www.splitshire.com/

Simply download the desired data here (take note of possible licence fees!) and send it in along with your enquiry/order. This will allow a thorough viability check and ensure that a corresponding offer/invoice can follow.

Basically, it is assumed that the respective image will be printed on a white (RAL 9010) HELIOTH panel. If a different background/frame colour is required, separate information must be provided.

Images/motifs are printed with a fade-out (a gentle, misty transition from the background/frame colour to the image). If sharp transitions without a fade-out are wanted, separate information must be provided.

Attractive three-dimensional designs can be applied to the HELIOLITH panels using water transfer printing. Appropriate water transfer printing films for artistic/technical designs and imitation materials (mock marble/stone/wood/root wood, carbon, metal,…) can be found on relevant websites such as:

  1. https://www.artwork-shop.de/
  2. https://www.mst-shop.com/
  3. https://www.htf-wassertransferdruck.at/

Simply chose your favourite films and send in the specifications with your enquiry/order. This will allow a thorough viability check and ensure that a corresponding offer/invoice can follow.

Some of these films are not kept in stock by our external services suppliers and therefore have to be ordered. Basically, this is not a problem, but it does prolong the delivery period.

During water transfer printing, the respective films require the HELIOLITH panels to have a certain background colour. Roughly eighty per cent of the time this is light in tone or white (e.g. RAL 9010) and in around twenty per cent of cases, dark or black (e.g. RAL 9005). In some very rare instances, a specific shade is recommended, which is fundamentally no problem, but owing to the fact that special colours may be involved, this can result in additional cost and/or an extended delivery period.

The energy passport software for “heating with electricity” and “direct electricity heating” presents the individual and relevant parameters in a very poor light with the argumentation that such heating involves massive CO2 and environmental impacts. Consequently, “direct electricity heating” is the object of systematically negative calculations, which are based partly on fundamentally flawed tenets. For example, one only needs to consider the case of pellets and their partial transportation in massive ships and trucks over thousands of kilometres, not to mention the additional space, equipment and materials needed in order to finally possess a functioning heating system. These factors should also be included in any evaluation of CO2 and environmental impact, as FUEL alone cannot be the sole deciding factor in calculations of this type. Moreover, in the case of water-carrying heating systems a thermal balance is generally only possible with massive over-dimensioning of the heater, an electricity guzzling circulatory pump and an electrically powered control unit. These factors also play a key role in the system as a whole, but are deliberately neglected (with regard to CO2 and environmental impact, the cost of electricity, maintenance and repairs, etc.).

One evaluation example relates to the energy passport for an old building equipped with HELIOTH panels (reference project in Peuerbach, Upper Austria – 155 m², ~9 kW connected load or 18 HELIOLITHs, no thermal renovation), which states that consumption amounts to 33,500 kWh/p.a. In actual fact, the electricity bill for heating with the HELIOLITHs totals EUR 1,600 EUR/p.a. and the readings on the #LOXONE Smarthome control system for this period show consumption of 10,300 kWh (i.e. less than a third of the energy passport figure!).

Yes, one can! This is because temperature and weight are no problem with regard to the HELIOLITH panels if the correct dowels are employed. We recommend the use of the supplied standard mounting, or a purchased VESA mounting using M06 hollow metal dowels, which depending on the make and type can support individual items weighing up to 30 kg. The standard use of four hollow metal dowels provides load-bearing capacity of 100 kg, which means that wall or ceiling mounting is permissible. However, care must be taken to ensure that the plasterboard itself offers a sufficient load-bearing capability (sheet thickness and type). At present, the heaviest HELIOLITH series panel weighs ~23 kg (H40-….), although work is continuing on the H46-… series, which will have a unit weight of ~32 kg.

Health questions

HELIOLITH heating panels only emit an odour at the beginning, as styrene escapes due to the heating of the gel coating. This ceases following baking out (~2 days) and under all circumstances is below defined limits and absolutely harmless. IBO GmbH has completed an expertise on this matter.

IR-A is an abbreviation for the shortwave heat radiation (780 – 1,400 nm) generated by so-called IR heaters (infrared heaters), which have a surface temperature of at least 900°C. These become red in colour, require practically no warm-up time and emit over 90% radiation. The radiated warmth is barely influenced by drafts or wind and therefore this type of infrared heater is ideal for outdoor use. However, the electricity consumption of such high-temperature heaters is massive and entails a high degree of burn risk due to direct contact or excessively close proximity to the radiated heat (it is essential that such devices are fitted with a protective mesh at the appropriate distance from the IR source are mounted at a considerable height and equipped with child protection).

IR-B is the abbreviation for the medium wave heat radiation (1,400 – 3,000 nm) generated by IR heaters (infrared heaters), which have a surface temperature of 200 – 900 °C. These do not emit light and are therefore known as dark heaters, and create 60 – 90% radiation. IR heaters are employed in closed, high and wide rooms and halls (preferred by industry, commerce and catering) with a raised heating requirement. However, the electricity consumption of such medium-temperature heaters is high and they entail a high degree of burn risk due to direct contact or the radiated heat (it is essential that such devices are equipped with a protective mesh at the appropriate distance from the IR source, mounted at a considerable height and fitted with child protection).

IR-C is the abbreviation for the long wave heat radiation (3,000 nm – 1 mm) generated by IR heaters (infrared heaters), which have a surface temperature of below 200 °C. In the case of surface temperatures of over 100°C it is assumed that the IR heater is mounted solely on the ceiling and out of reach. Such heaters generate no light and have a radiation share of up to 60%. This type of IR heater is used in rooms (apartments, individual rooms, offices, hotel rooms, multi-party housing and single family homes). The electricity consumption of these low-temperature heaters is economically acceptable and they carry only a limited risk of burns due to direct contact (unprofessional installation) and no risk owing to the radiated heat.

Infrared radiation (IR radiation) can promote local blood circulation and reduce muscular tension. For example, infrared radiation is employed in medicine for the alleviation of muscle pain and tenseness, and if required for the treatment of autoimmune or wound healing disorders. In each individual case, a physician must be the judge of whether the treatment of an ailment or symptoms with IR radiation would be beneficial, or conversely could prove detrimental (particularly with regard to the IR-A and IR-B radiation range). Owing to its limited penetration and low volume distribution, heat radiation in the IR-C range (long wave heat radiation from 3,000 nm – 1 mm) is harmless for humans and does not present a health risk. Indeed, it generates very agreeable and comforting sensations.

Definitely NOT! Heat radiation in the IR-C range, which is emitted by low-temperature electric heaters, is absolutely harmless. Humans are constantly exposed to IR radiation, which is called infrared, thermal or heat radiation. Every body that is warmer than 1 kelvin emits electromagnetic radiation in line with its temperature and this constitutes heat radiation. The intensity of the radiation strengthens with rising surface temperature and the wavelength becomes shorter. At ~600 °C the bulk of the radiation is still in the infrared range and therefore invisible to the human eye. However, should the temperature rise further the radiation becomes visible and the glow changes from dark to bright red (850 °C), yellow (1,000 °C) and finally white (1,300 °C). The share of harmful radiation such as ultraviolet light (UV light), only increases when surfaces are even hotter and at this juncture a danger to humans can result. By contrast, infrared heaters that operate in the invisible spectral range, which is far removed from red light, emit no hazardous radiation.

DIN EN 60335-2-30 stipulates that on the basis of the ambient temperature, the increase in temperature of heaters with metal surfaces may not exceed 85 kelvin (K), or 105 K in the case of heaters with glass or ceramic surfaces. The second figure also applies to HELIOLITH heating panels, which reach a maximum core temperature of 105 K and therefore have a maximum surface temperature of 100 K.
Accordingly, at a room temperature of 20 °C, the surface temperature may not be higher than 105 °C or 125 °C. Brief contact with the warm surface will not result in a burn.

Infrared warmth has an extremely positive effect upon the human organism. This is not merely a subjective sensation and innumerable studies have proven that radiated or IR warmth is extremely pleasant on the body and alleviates many physical ailments.

Owing to the fact that infrared heating does not heat up the room atmosphere directly, but instead the objects that it contains, one also profits from a higher level of atmospheric humidity and reduced convection (warm air rises, cools and descends). This is particularly beneficial for persons suffering from asthma and allergies, as the reduction in room air circulation causes less dust to be whipped up.

Questions regarding ambient and environmental impact

The combination of direct heat radiation with an increase in shell (wall) temperature results in a subjective sensation of warmth, which is 2 – 3 °C higher than the actual atmospheric temperature in the room. This phenomenon, which involves the usurpation of reality by subjectivity, can also be experienced on a cold winter’s day, when owing to direct sunlight the level of perceived warmth exceeds that of the actual air temperature. The basic principle applies that the higher the wall temperature, the lower is the atmospheric temperature needed in the room to achieve an equal degree of comfort. The Bedford comfort diagram shows that in spite of a lower atmospheric temperature in the room, warm walls create the same sensation of cosiness. Consequently, the atmospheric temperature in rooms can be lowered and for every degree, ~5 % of energy are saved. The fact that infrared heating also warms the building shell means that moisture in the ceilings, walls and floors is reduced, which has a positive impact upon insulation values. It also decreases or prevents condensation and thus mould formation.

Correctly dimensioned HELIOLITH infrared heating surpasses the sense of cosiness and comfort engendered by other heating systems. It is clean, noiseless, maintenance-free and efficient. The radiated heat enables rooms to be warmed and heated uniformly, and through the exact positioning of HELIOLITH heating panels, additional comfort zones can be supplied with targeted warmth. This means that the energy supplied can be utilised with precision and great efficiency at exactly the point where it is required.

Standard convective heating systems use the atmosphere to transport heat and the disadvantages are well known. The rising warm air results in a major temperature gradient between the ceiling and the floor and therefore while a great deal of energy (warmth) is stored and thus wasted in the warm air layer on the ceiling, the cooler air at floor level leads to cold feet. Consequently, one is forced to turn up the thermostat and in addition, this constant upward flow of warm air whips up dust and bacteria that have a negative impact upon humans. Furthermore, the air is dried, which also has a negative effect upon the interior climate and comfort levels.

Financial questions

Yes, the use of a geyser in combination with an electrical heating system consisting of HELIOLITH infrared panels does enhance energy efficiency in the home. Owing to the fact that the electrical heating system functions without water conduction, a hot water circuit is no longer needed and a separate boiler solely for the hot water supply is in the majority of applications totally inefficient.

A geyser first heats the water when the tap is turned on, which as compared to the heating and warmth retention provided by a boiler, saves energy. Equally, a geyser located at the point of use prevents the heat losses caused by lengthy piping.

Therefore, water heating at the point of use is extremely practical and helps to save both water and electricity. In addition, not only can the investment costs for the water installation be reduced by as much as 60%, but also the health problems caused by legionella, which in particular affect small children, are excluded.

The combination of a photovoltaic system with an electrically powered heating system using HELIOLITH panels is extremely efficient. A photovoltaic system generates electricity from solar energy and this can be used for own consumption. The fact that for example in Austria one can expect a >100 % surcharge on the pure electricity price (network charge, taxes) means that considerable savings potential exists when one is able to use self-generated electricity. The resultant volume will probably be insufficient for total independence, but whatever the case it will contribute to a massive reduction in energy costs. Furthermore, the use of a power store would additionally optimise this heating system.

The price of electricity fluctuates less than those of all other energy sources, which are closely linked to the oil price. Particularly in Austria, the electricity mix contains a high percentage of hydropower and thus the environmental aspect plays a major role. Unlike pellets, wood chips, oil, gas and heat pumps, electricity does not require storage space and therefore in Austria for example, investment costs of ~2,000 EUR/m² are saved. Moreover, electricity does not need a flue (EUR ~5,000 – ~10,000), or the servicing of additional control units and wear parts.

The energy consumption of infrared heating depends largely upon the building shell and the type of application. If an infrared heating system is used as the main source of warmth, consumption is in the range of a modern gas-fired condensing boiler and although the electricity purchase price [kWh] is higher than that for gas, infrared heating offers considerable potential for savings. This includes the use of a photovoltaic system or a geyser, or quite simply the superior control possibilities provided with regard to room and zonal heating (sitting and working areas), and the time factor (system inertia). In addition, the electricity price is less volatile than that of other energy sources, which are generally linked to the oil price.

Consumption cost comparisons would appear to indicate that due to the higher price in in EUR/kWh as compared to oil, gas, pellets and wood chips, heating with electricity is more expensive. However, if the capital and operation-related expenses are taken into account, especially in buildings that require little warmth, infrared heating offers considerable economic advantages.

For example, in old buildings the replacement of night storage heating with an infrared system already cuts consumption owing to improved controllability. However, whether or not cost-efficient operation is possible is largely dependent upon the standard local charges for night storage boilers and direct electrical heating, as well as the respective infrared heating. Although the purchase of electrical heating systems is always less expensive than that for government sponsored heating systems (e.g. heat pumps, biomass), facts are frequently falsely presented, which leads to disadvantages in the heating market, if for example grants are unavailable.

Whatever the case, we recommend that prior to any decision, the overall heating expense consisting of capital, consumption and running costs of the respective heating systems be compared. Comfort and cosiness are difficult to evaluate in monetary terms, but are further arguments for electric infrared heating.

Running costs are directly proportional to the electrical power employed. Owing to the extremely efficient conversion of electrical power into heating energy (virtually 100% efficiency, no heat losses), in combination with a lower room temperature, direct heat generation on the spot, or precisely where it is wanted, means that with correct utilisation running costs can be cut by as much as 30%.

To name but a few possibilities, economies of up to 60% derive from the saving of the space required for technical equipment and fuels (oil, pellets, wood chips, etc.), flues and water installations. A maximum of 50% can be saved in connection with both heating installation and filter technology (fine dust).

One can economise in respect of maintenance (statutory requirements and servicing recommended by the manufacturer), overhauls (repairs to pumps, valves, motors and tanks), and home insurance due to the minimisation of the fire and water damage risk.

The additional costs to be expected with infrared heaters relate to the matching of the home connection to the connected load by the energy supplier and running costs (electricity consumption).

This is because politics and business continue to maintain their blockade and present infrared heating with electricity as a source of CO2 with values between those of gas and oil heating. In reality, these do not apply (because green electricity, and an electricity mix with a high eco-share are not included fully and the overall environmental balance of other fuels is not prepared holistically, which allows them to appear more favourable).

Nevertheless, one can state that moderate investment costs and the advantages with regard to maintenance and servicing expense speak for an infrared heating system because the aforementioned benefits certainly compensate for the lack of a grant.

WARNING!: In some cases the word “grant” is misused. The frequently applied for and approved “grant” is simply a rebate, or price reduction on the part of the respective heating system manufacturer/dealer. This is given with the underlying intention of creating the impression that the product in question is desired by the state, e.g. for environmental reasons.

Legal questions

In Austria, system heating using electrical resistance heaters (e.g. electricity heating in general, infrared heating panels) has been permitted since 2015 (see also the OIB directive from 26 March 2015).

In other countries, the situation must be clarified with the respective specialist electrical company or energy supplier, whereby night storage boilers are also to be seen as electrical resistance heating devices although these inefficient and slow heating devices represent an exception.

HELIOLITH infrared heaters possess TÜV Austria GmbH certification in line with the relevant guidelines for low-temperature heating devices. Naturally, the manufacturer also confirms CE conformity.