Infrared vs Ceramic Heaters: Compared In 5 Categories

white modern infrared heater

Are you trying to choose between an infrared and a ceramic heater for your home?

Good call! Being able to have a steady heat source whenever we need it is essential, and both types of heaters are great at providing it.

However, in a world with so many appliances and new solutions being invented every day, it can be hard to make the right choice from hundreds of options. Both ceramic and infrared heaters have their own set of advantages and disadvantages, some of which are directly related to efficiency and maintenance.

In the article below, you’ll find all the information you’ve been searching for to make the right decision and get the heater you want and need in your home.

Keep reading to make the most out of your heating!

Ceramic vs Infrared Heaters Compared

Both infrared and ceramic heaters are used for similar purposes, and up to a certain point, they deliver almost the same results. However, one of the main differences between them is the way they work, which directly impacts how much power they use, how well they heat, and how long they take to warm up an area.

Also, the materials with which they’re built make a great difference, as they do not only determine how quickly they heat up but also how long they stay warm after being turned off.

Overall, there are many benefits and areas of improvement for both, and the best way to showcase them is by comparing them in different categories. Read on to learn more.

#1 Heating Efficiency

Let’s start off with something that is extremely important, but highly unappreciated. Heating efficiency.

This is a technical term, but all it means is how well your appliance harnesses the energy it’s consuming. You can think of it as pouring water from a jar onto a glass.

Modern living room with infrared heater
The more efficient an appliance is, the better results you’ll get at lower costs

If all the water that leaves the jar falls into the glass, you would have 100% efficiency. Whereas every single droplet that ended up on your kitchen countertop, would be wasted, and efficiency would be decreased.

The same happens with heaters. Both ceramic and infrared versions use electricity to provide you with the warmth you’ve come to love. However, infrared heaters are 100% efficient, while ceramic ones are not.

And the reason behind this is their heating process.

Ceramic heaters use a fan and a ceramic heating element to warm up the surrounding air, while infrared models use infrared waves directed toward people and objects.

This translates into less electricity required to provide you with the same amount of heat. If electricity costs are very high in your area, your best bet will be to go infrared, as it will save you a lot of time, and create less pollution.


#2 Lifespan

This is where infrared heaters start taking the lead.

While both models should work perfectly for tens of thousands of hours, infrared units tend to last longer. Especially if you buy quartz-based heaters, as they can last up to 60,000 hours.

In theory, ceramic models should last anywhere between two and four years. However, this estimate can be dramatically reduced if you fail to maintain your appliance and neglect it often.

You see, no matter how long a lifespan a manufacturer might claim their product to have, poor conditions, and a lack of attention from you, the user, will have a greater impact on how long it lasts, than anything else.

Which leads me to my next point.

Infrared heaters do not have any kind of moving parts, so they’ll require very little of you throughout their lifespan. Ceramic models, on the other hand, have a fan and other moving components which are prone to malfunctioning and need frequent checks from you.

I know when you started reading this section, you probably thought I was only going to talk about how long the unit can last on its own, but it’s important to consider every other factor.

If you strongly dislike having to constantly maintain your appliances and know you’re likely to forget to clean your internal components, go infrared. In most cases, all these heaters will require of you, will be a timely payment of your utilities to keep running.

#3 Price

person holding dollar bills
Always consider the costs of the appliance you’re trying to purchase

At this point, it would seem like infrared heaters will be the clear winners of this comparison. But let’s not get ahead of ourselves, ceramic models still have some fight in them.

If you’re looking for a basic model, you should be able to find an infrared heater for as low as $150, and a ceramic one for $90-$100, or less. And if you want as many bells and whistles as possible, you can find units upwards of $1500 in either case.

Just as it happens with any other household appliance out there, there are units in every price range.

That being said, whenever you consider buying a new appliance for your home, you must not only take into consideration the price tag on the unit but also all the associated collateral costs that will come with it. This includes running costs, and the cost of repairs.

We’ll discuss the running costs of each model below, but for now, let’s stick to the cost of repairs. As stated above, contrary to ceramic models, infrared heaters have no moving parts, which means they’re less likely to break or malfunction.

While buying a ceramic heater will represent a cheaper price tag, the overall costs related to maintaining and repairing its fan motor, bearings, and other internal parts, can quickly put you in debt.  

#4 Running Costs

electricity towers and power lines
The cost of your monthly power consumption could help drive your decision

Failing to consider this could put you in a very uncomfortable position.

While both infrared and ceramic heaters use electricity to run and provide you with heat, one is more power-hungry than the other.

Given how technologically advanced infrared models look when compared to their ceramic counterparts, you could be forgiven for thinking that they would be the more expensive heater to run, but they’re not.

And there are a couple of reasons for that.

Firstly, they are 100% energy efficient, so they need less power to provide you with great results. And secondly, they have no moving parts, which means that all the electricity consumed goes towards generating heat.

Ceramic models, on the other hand, need electricity to heat up their heating element, and to power the fan, so it blows the hot air across the room. This represents a higher power consumption that will undoubtedly increase your bills month after month.

I bet the smaller price tag on this model is looking less appealing now, huh?

If you think about it, even if you pay a little more for an infrared unit, the money you’ll save on electricity every month will more than make up for it in less than a year.

#5 Safety

yellow safety first sign
Safety should be one of your top priorities

If you live with young children or pets, this is definitely something you want to consider.

While it’s true that most modern-day appliances are equipped with a myriad of safety features and countermeasures to accidents, a fail-proof model is yet to be invented.

While neither model will be as much of a fire hazard as a propane unit, there are still some things that can go wrong during operation. After all, both infrared and ceramic heaters can reach extremely high temperatures, which can cause serious burns on your skin or start a fire.

On paper, both models are safe to use, and unless you accidentally touch the hot areas of the unit, you should be fine. That being said, you should always look for a heater that comes equipped with a tilt switch.

This component senses even the slightest inclination in the heater, and if it suspects it’s about to tip over, it will immediately deactivate it. You should be able to find this part in most versions of either model.

Whenever I talk with people about heaters, I always tell them to think of them as stove-top burners and treat them as such. It’s the best way to prevent accidental burns.

Summarizing Pros and Cons

Now that you know all there is to know about both heater types and where each has the upper hand over the other, let’s quickly recap by taking a quick look at their Pros and Cons.

Infrared Heaters

100% EfficientHeat dissipates quickly
Cheaper to run than ceramic heatersDirect heating, as opposed to warming an entire area
Quick heating
Low maintenance costs
If you’re looking for an appliance that won’t require your attention too much and is highly efficient, infrared is for you

Ceramic Heaters

Instant heatingSmall heating area
CheapExpensive to run
Fast cooling after use
If you want a cheaper alternative to infrared and need to warm smaller spaces, a ceramic heater will make you very happy


At a glance, having the possibility of deciding what heater to buy might seem like a blessing. However, sometimes this can also be overwhelming, and leave you puzzled.

There’s always a catch, isn’t there?

Luckily, I hope the information you’ve found here has given you a clearer idea of what is essential, and what are the things you can live without. This should help drive your decision, and make the right choice after considering your specific situation.

Trust in yourself. I know you’ll be happy with what you end up with.

Thank you so much for sticking with me all the way to the end. If you found this article helpful, why not become an expert in the subject through our other wonderful resources below?

I wish you all the best!

— Craig.

Frequently Asked Questions

Are Ceramic Heaters Safe?


Both ceramic and infrared heaters are generally very safe to use, as they come equipped with many features, such as tip-over protection and overheating protection.

That being said, it’s always recommended to keep them away from children or pets that might touch them when they’re still hot.

Which Heater Is Better for Larger Areas?

It depends.

The size and wattage of the heater you choose will greatly determine how well it heats up a large living space. Also, based on how you want to use the heater, one will be better than the other.

If you want to warm up the air, ceramic heaters are usually better, whereas if you want to heat a specific spot where people are, infrared units are far better and more focused.

Can Infrared Heaters Be Used Outdoors?

Absolutely, but there are some considerations.

If you want to use an infrared heater outdoors, make sure you buy one that is rated for that application, as you can’t use a regular unit out in the open.

It’s also recommended that you read and follow your manufacturer’s indications carefully to ensure that you’re always using the appliance properly.

I've been helping homeowners with appliance repair since 2016. Starting out as an enthusiastic amateur, I've since worked with many Appliance, HVAC, and DIY experts over the last 7+ years. My mission is to help fix your appliances and prevent future issues - saving you stress, time, and money. Visit my author page to learn more! Read more