Infrared Panels are the perfect heating solution for hospital environments
Heating hospitals is a Herculean task. Long corridors & the constant opening of doors are just two of the challenges faced by those tasked with the job. In this article we look at how a relatively new heating solution - infrared panels - can help overcome these and other healthcare-specific issues.
Energy consumption in hospitals is on the rise - the NHS spends around £750 million a year on energy (1) and electricity already accounts for more than 50% of this. With the increased use of specialist equipment, consumption is set to increase even more, which is a major problem for the NHS's tight budgets.
Many already recognise the importance of an effective heating system in healthcare facilities. An efficient heating system will prevent energy wastage and keep costs down, and by setting suitable temperatures and ensuring that heating equipment and controls are managed correctly it is possible to save up to 30% on heating costs.
The role of Infrared Heat Panels
Infrared Heat Panels, which heat people and objects in the same way as the sun itself, have been used in German and Austrian hospitals and care homes for many years. They have also became the default heat choice for some specialist healthcare settings;
- Burns Units. Wards housing patients with burns find infrared heating is the only method of heating they can use as there is no movement of air or dispersion of dust particles - which can aggravate burns and harbour infection.
- Neo-natal. Infrared heating is so safe in fact that far infrared, the gentlest form of infrared, is also often used in incubators for babies to keep them warm.
Aside form its use in specialist settings, infrared heating has a range of other benefits that makes it an ideal choice in more general healthcare environments.
Benefits of Infrared for Hospital Heating
- Healthy. Infrared offers several health benefits as when the body absorbs infrared heat it increases blood circulation, enhances the immune system and reduces joint pain and inflammation, the same effects as being in a sauna. It can also help people with health conditions like asthma or bronchial ailments that around 12% of UK population suffer with.
- Instant. Green advisors Carbon Trust found that in hospitals thermostats are often set to maximum to ‘make the space heat up faster'. This simply results in overheated space. Hospitals using infrared won’t have to wait 15 minutes for a cold area to heat up and won’t be using 15 minutes of power to heat air that will inevitably be lost in a draught. Infrared heaters are simply turned on when the heat is needed and a comfortable temperature warms up the people and objects in a room, avoiding the need to turn up thermostats to maximum.
- Controllable. Hospitals have areas with different time and temperature requirements. This can be problematic when there is only one heating control system in place. Dividing areas into zones with separate controls for heating is easily achieved with infrared heating panels, as directed, focused infrared heat warms everything in its range without losing heat to other spaces. When combined with the Tansun time lag switches or motion detectors, the panels provide even more controlability. With Tansun zoning and control it is easy to optimise energy efficiency, slim down heating bills and boast a truly eco-friendly heating system.
- Hygienic. Infrared heating panels provide a hygienic solution as they eliminate the movement of air and reduce the spread of bacteria. As sterile environments, there are lots of rules and regulations about what technology (especially HVAC equipment) can be installed on hospital premises. This means that many traditional heating methods aren’t suitable. By contrast, infrared is a 100% safe & viable option.
- Natural. The heaters transmit harmless infrared energy, in the same way as the sun does. This infrared energy turns into heat only when it comes into contact with an object or person. Unlike traditional heaters, which tend to rely on convection, infrared heaters do not heat the atmosphere or have heat blown away in the wind.
- Highly efficient. Infrared is a remarkably energy efficient form of heating where energy conversion rates are around 98%. Typically an infrared heater is 40% of the size of a conventional heater yet will still produce the same level of warmth. This means a 400W infrared heater for example will produce the same amount of heat as a 1kW conventional heater.
- Easy to install. Infrared heating panels are highly cost-effective to install as they don’t require pipework to function and simply plug into the wall like a regular appliance. They can be wall-hung or, if wall space is at a premium, ceiling-mounted. Because of their versatility, it’s also possible to gradually introduce infrared heaters into hosptitals as they can be quickly and easily installed by an electrician, making it cheaper than other forms of heating. This includes gas heating, where extra pipework may have to be brought in.
- Silent. Infrared heating panels have the advantage of being completely silent, so staff and patients don't have to put up with heating systems being a source of noise.
Three panel heaters have been developed by Tansun in different sizes to cater for numerous areas. The
Iridium Series 600 (300W), 900 (610W) and 1200 (785W), are lightweight and extra-slim radiant heating panels. Standard panel colours are white or black finish but Tansun can create the panels in most RAL colour options to help blend in with particular environments and colour schemes.
All of Tansun’s products are made in the UK and are designed using premium components. The company has been established for 35 years and pioneered the concept of radiant electric heaters alongside Philips technology. Tansun has the largest range of commercial, industrial and domestic radiant heaters in the world, providing maintenance-free, safe and healthy radiant heaters for many different types of heating applications.
(1) A Healthy Saving: Energy Efficiency and the NHS, UK Green Investment Bank, 2014