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Quartz Heating - How It Works

What is Quartz Heating?

Quartz heating is a type of radiant heating, commonly referred to as short wave infrared heating. Radiant heating uses infrared waves to directly heat the surfaces of objects. All objects emit and absorb infrared heat, which is part of the electromagnetic spectrum with a frequency below visible light. Hotter objects will radiate more of this heat. This is the basis of the technology for most quartz heaters.

Infrared heat was discovered in the early 19th century by William Herschel, who named the invisible light as ‘infrared’ because he believed it was ‘below the red light,’ as ‘infra’ in Latin translates to ‘below.’ This meant that Herschel discovered a form of light beyond red light in the electromagnetic spectrum and it marked the first time in history that someone showed there were types of light that cannot be seen by the naked eye. The very first quartz heaters used what is known as ‘near infrared’ or ‘short wave infrared,’ which is closest to red in the light spectrum and able to contain large amounts of heat. 

How Does Quartz Heating Work?

The principle of quartz heating (a type of radiant heating) is well-known and has been in use for many years. Electric infrared energy travels in straight lines from the heat source. This energy is directed into specific patterns by optically designed reflectors. Infrared, like light, travels outward from the heat source and diffuses over a distance.

Quartz heating works similar to the sun, travelling in parallel lines, even able to pass through the vacuum of space. This is why quartz heating is not affected by wind and able to directly heat people and objects. Quartz heaters are suitable for outdoor heating as well as indoor heating and due to their heat intensity, are also highly effective for space heating.

How Quartz Heaters Work

A quartz heater is a common type of infrared heater and the creation and subsequent release of heat from the heater is made by the heating element, enclosed in a quartz tube. The heating element produces heat at the necessary wavelength to create the appropriate level of intensity to heat the specific material required. The purpose of the quartz tube is to protect the heating element and also to stop the escape of convection heat.

The principle of quartz heating works with the heating element becoming very hot and the quartz tube experiencing a sudden build up of heat. When the quartz tube reaches the appropriate temperature, the heat is emitted out of the quartz tube. The wavelength of heat produced from this process has been acknowledged as ideal for the human body. The infrared heat is directly absorbed by the people and objects near the quartz heater and very little heat is absorbed by the air, due to the infrared spectrum being almost completely outside the absorption spectrum of air.

For more information about quartz heaters, please visit our  "Quartz Heaters" page.

Types Of Heating

Short Wave Heating

    Short wave high intensity quartz heaters work like sunshine, with no pre-heating time and able to provide instantaneous heat, ideal for commercialhospitality and outdoor heating. Short wave heaters warm people and objects within the beam rather than the air; resulting in a pleasantly fresh rather than stuffy environment. ‘Near infrared’ is part of the infrared spectrum with the shorter wavelengths, and is sometimes referred to as short wave infrared.

    Due to the quartz heating from the short wave heaters being unaffected by the wind, the heaters are optimal for patio and terrace heating, as well as heating the outdoor areas of bars and restaurants. Short wave heaters provide the best heat intensity required for space heating, and to heat indoor areas such as churches and industrial buildings.

    Quartz short wave heaters emit about 92% of its energy as heat and with no pre-heating time, the short wave heaters are the most energy efficient type of heaters. This compares highly favourably versus the other types of heating such as gas, convection and fan heaters and it is this energy efficiency that results in the quartz short wave heaters being very economical to run, making the quartz heaters appropriate for commercial and domestic heating. An example of Tansun heaters being highly economical to run is shown in the "Saint Michael's Church" case study page.

    Tansun offer a range of quartz short wave heaters, perfect for many heating applications.

Diagram Showing How Short Wave Quartz Infrared Heat Is Emitted From Infrared Quartz Heaters
Medium Wave Heating

    Medium wave quartz heaters are more suited for indoor heating and semi-enclosed environments, for areas such as conservatoriescommercial buildings and retractable awnings, where a more gentle heat is required. These types of heaters typically take between 3 to 7 minutes to fully warm up. The heat element within medium wave heaters is usually a ceramic lamp. This emits a much lower level of glare than short wave heaters, making medium wave heaters suitable for areas where no light is wanted such as theatres and auditoriums. Although they do not provide a heat intensity that short wave heaters can fulfil, medium wave heaters also contain no glass, perfect for hospital and catering environments.

    Medium wave heat is not directional and is susceptible to air movement, thereby not being great for outdoor heating. The wavelength is inversely proportional to temperature. As the temperature goes up, the wavelength goes down. A medium wave filament only heats up to around 900º Celsius, making it suitable for curing and drying processes rather than outside heating.

    Tansun offer the “Eclipse” range and “Sorrento Ceramic” range of medium wave quartz heaters.

Diagram Showing How Medium Wave Quartz Infrared Heat Is Emitted From Infrared Quartz Heaters
Long Wave Heating

    Long wave heaters are usually used indoors and in catering environments, where a low level of heat is required and no glass is allowed. These heaters often take over 10 minutes to heat up. Ceramic plaque heaters fall between medium and long wave heat, heating up to around 500º Celsius. ‘Far infrared’ is part of the infrared spectrum with the longer wavelengths, and is sometimes referred to as long wave infrared.

    Long wave heaters are highly unsuitable for outdoor heating as the heat emitted is susceptible to air movement and is easily affected by the wind, thereby warming the air instead of penetrating through it and warming the person. Only 40% of the energy of a long wave heater is emitted as heat, and so 60% of its energy is used to heat the surrounding space, resulting in the long wave heaters being the least efficient type of infrared heaters.

    Please visit our "Types Of Infrared Heating" page for more information.

Diagram Showing How Long Wave Quartz Infrared Heat Is Emitted From Infrared Quartz Heaters
Short Wave Lamp

Short wave halogen heat lamps consist of a tungsten filament heated by the passage of an electric current to a temperature of about 2200º Celsius. At this temperature most of the emission is in the short wave infrared band (1.2 microns). However, as with all tungsten filament lamps, the tungsten will evaporate in time and deposit itself on the wall of the lamp.

To prevent this undesirable effect, a small amount of halogen gas is added to the envelope of the lamp and hence a process of re-composition takes place. As the tungsten evaporates it will combine with the halogen gas to form a tungsten halide and so prevent the tungsten being deposited in the wall of the lamp. The tungsten halide will re-combine with the filament, releasing the halogen and re-depositing the tungsten on the filament. This process is a continuous one and is known as the halogen cycle.

For heating applications, a ruby sleeve or gold dichroic coating encloses the halogen heat lamp to filter out the intense white light and provide a pleasant warm glow.

There are important differences between long wave emitters such as the metal sheath and medium or short wave emitter quartz lamps. For example, the radiant efficiency of a short wave quartz heater is up to 96% and that of a medium wave heater is around 60%.

Quartz Heaters For Comfort Heating

For successful comfort heating, there must be reasonably even levels of heat throughout the area to be heated. Proper mounting heights of the individual quartz heaters, accurate heater spacing, reflector beam patterns, and heat wattage must all be specified to generate the proper heating levels at the task area. The amount of heat delivered can also be adjusted by heater controllers which can provide on-off or variable outputs. Quartz heaters are perfect for a wide range of heating applications and heating sectors. Please visit our “Guide To Buying Quartz Heaters” page for more information.

Tansun provide a free heating design service upon request where we can use more than 35 years of experience in the heating industry to provide you with innovative quartz heaters for any scheme you require. Please call us at 0121 580 6200 or email our dedicated sales team at to help provide you with the correct quartz heaters for your scheme.