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Can an infrared heater start a fire? Space heaters like infrared heaters are a great way of supplementing your central heating system. Also, they provide a useful and affordable solution for heating a space without fixed heat. Unfortunately, if you’re not cautious, they can be a source of fire hazards.
According to NFPA (National Fire Protection Association), about 30% of winter house fires and 80% of all winter heating deaths are caused by space heaters. In another report, space heaters were responsible for more than 40% of all home heating fires in the United States from 2011 to 2015.
That said, before you buy a certain space heater, it’s important to understand all the risks it comes with. Read on to learn more about the potential dangers of infrared heating and whether it might cause a fire!
Potential dangers of infrared heaters
Although infrared heating sounds scary, it’s safe and doesn’t cause health problems like cancer. Plus, they’re different from other types of space heaters since they don’t burn anything to keep the house warm. Instead, IR heaters generate infrared heat/ warmth that is easily absorbed by the body.
However, this doesn’t mean that you can use these units without considering fire hazards, burn risks, and other potential dangers. Some of these risks associated with infrared heaters include;
Can an infrared heater cause a fire? When used and installed properly, an infrared heater cannot start a fire. Besides, most portable IR heaters are equipped with various safety features to prevent them from starting a fire. These features include; tip-over protection, protective casing, and overheating protection. As a result, infrared heaters rarely get hot enough to start a fire.
However, these units still have elements that get hot. Specifically, most IR heaters have carbon or quartz elements that get extremely hot. So, if you leave flammable objects like fabrics, wood, and paper on your infrared heater, you can easily cause a fire accident. For that reason, you should always keep any combustible material at a safe distance from your heater.
Interestingly, almost all portable IR heaters are equipped with a protective casing to prevent them from getting too hot. This ensures that they remain safe to the touch and some even have inbuilt tip-over protection.
An infrared heater can cause burn injuries to living creatures standing too close to the heater’s direction. Similarly, touching a hot exterior can cause potential burns. To prevent this, always look for a heater with a cool-to-touch exterior or a wall heater, especially if you’ve curious pets or young kids around the house. More notably, keep children away from the heater and avoid putting anything in the way of your heater. It’s recommended that you put items, including plants at least 12 – 18 inches away from the infrared heater to stay safe and warm.
Like any other electrical device, a damaged / faulty infrared heater is not safe to use. So, make sure you protect the heater from getting knocked around too much. More importantly, make sure you get it checked by a qualified electrician/ technician if you have any suspicions.
Infrared heater overheating
Although this is a very rare occurrence, an overheating IR heater can cause harm and side effects like skin burns and damage to eye tissues. Luckily, most heaters are equipped with an overheating protection feature. That way, the heater will automatically shut off, if its interior gets too hot for any reason.
Is it safe to leave an Infrared Heater Overnight?
IR heaters are generally safe to leave on overnight, provided there isn’t anything flammable nearby. This is because most modern IR heaters have safety shut-off switches that turn them off in case they fall over or overheat. Also, some models have a timer that allows your heater to turn off at certain times.
However, if your unit doesn’t have a built-in infrared heater thermostat, the best option is to buy a model that shuts itself off when the metal bar gets too hot. More importantly, make sure the heater is not covered by anything flammable. At the same time, check for fraying of the power cord and any damage to the heater to ensure that it is in good condition.
Infrared Heater Safety Tips
Overall, infrared heaters are safer than other types of space heaters. However, it’s still important to take safety precautions to reduce their chances of causing a fire. Some notable IR safety tips that will help you accomplish that include;
Don’t put the heater near flammable items
Putting flammable objects near your infrared heater is the main problem that can cause a fire. So, avoid placing any flammable objects like curtains, paper, clothing, and lines near the heater
Protect the unit’s power cord
Damaged power cables are some of the leading causes of home fires. For that, you should keep all electric cords like HDMI cables, phone charging cables, and power cords away from the IR heater. Also, make sure the unit’s power cable isn’t left stretched across the room or anywhere it can experience a lot of wear & tear.
Use a grounded outlet
A grounded outlet offers more safety to larger electrical devices like computers and TVs. The same cause to 1500-w infrared heaters since they create a higher power and consume a lot of electricity during use. In addition, using a ground outlet and some surge protection will ensure that the heater doesn’t overload the circuit.
One benefit of IR heaters is that they’re user-friendly and most models come fully assembled. However, it’s important to clean its part from time to time to prevent debris and dust build-up. Dust acts as a good heat isolator that can reduce the amount of heat you get from the machine and even cause it to overheat. However, while disassembling the heater, make sure you follow the manual and procedure recommended by the manufacturer.
Limit long-time exposure
Although IR heaters don’t produce UV rays or cause cancer, long-term exposure to their radiation can lead to burns because of how they heat objects and people. For that, it is important to limit long exposure by turning them when going to bed. All in all, they’re perfectly safe to be left on overnight or when you’re away.
Avoid using the heater in damp/ wet areas
Since IR heaters use electricity, you should never put them in a damp area. Otherwise, this could spark a fire or cause an electrical shock.
Also, don’t put the heater on a countertop, unless specified by the manufacturer. Instead, put it on the floor or mount it on the wall, especially if it doesn’t have a solid, flat surface. This will prevent it from tipping over, which can be hazardous if it doesn’t have tip-over protection.
Keep away from children
Modern IR heaters are equipped with several safety features like overheat protection and tip-over protection. However, it’s still important to keep them away from your kids and pets for safety concerns. Alternatively, get a device with a cool-to-the-touch exterior or a wall-mounted IR heater.
Overall, infrared heaters are quite safe to use in your home. However, if proper guidelines and safety tips aren’t observed, they can easily cause a fire in your home. So, make sure you follow the basic guidelines for them to effectively heat your home. Other than that, you can leave the heaters unattended or running 24/7 since the best Infrared heaters are equipped with some incredible safety features!