Infrared vs ceramic heaters. Which one is better, and why? Here they are, compared in 5 categories, to answer your burning questions.

Being able to have a steady heat source in our home whenever we want, is a commodity we sadly underappreciate these days. Can you imagine having to light a fire every time you got cold? Just the thought of it is unbearable!

Luckily, we don’t have to think about this too often, as heaters have become a common appliance to own in every household. Whether you own a space, patio, or wall-mounted heater, it’s undeniable that it has made your life easier.

That being said, even among the most wonderful machines, there are levels of quality and versatility.

You might be wondering whether infrared is better than ceramic, or vice versa.

And while that’s a great question, it turns out there’s no single answer to it. Both models are great at doing their job, but in the process, there are differences that make them shine or come up short in some areas.

Below, I’ve prepared a list with the most noticeable advantages and disadvantages each one has against the other, so you can make an informed decision when it’s time to purchase your unit.

Are you ready? Let’s go!

The Pros and Cons

Before delving into the specifics, it’s important that we look at the pros and cons of each model. This way, you’ll know right off the bat where each shines or needs to improve.

Infrared Pros

  • 100% efficient
  • Cheaper to run than ceramic
  • Heats quickly
  • Low maintenance costs

Infrared Cons

  • Heat dissipates quickly
  • Direct heating method

Ceramic Pros

  • Instant heating
  • Cheap
  • Fast cooling after use

Ceramic Cons

  • Small heating area
  • Expensive to run

Now that you have a clear idea of what the advantages and disadvantages of each model are, we can move on to looking at more specific, key aspects that could help drive your decision.

These are:

  • Heating Efficiency
  • Lifespan
  • Price
  • Running costs
  • Safety

#1 Heating Efficiency

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

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.

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

Win-win!

#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 needing 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 cleaning 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 machine, but also all the associated collateral costs that will come with it, such as running costs, and 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 in 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 small 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 a stove top burner, and treat them as such. It’s the best way to prevent accidental burns.

Which One Should You Buy?

Sadly, there’s no single answer to that question.

The best heater for you will be that which solves the most problems and makes your life easier.

If you live in an area where electricity costs are very high, and want the highest level of efficiency while having to pay little to nothing in maintenance costs, go infrared.

Provided that you don’t mind checking on your appliance now and then, and want to save a couple of bucks on the initial price tag, ceramic is the way to go. In the end, it will all come down to your personal preferences and user habits, as well as the general conditions where you live.

While I hope you found this information useful to help drive your decision, this should not be your only source. It’s always a good idea to visit your favorite online marketplace and look at customer reviews for each model, so you know what to expect. 

Moreover, if you know someone who owns either version, you should ask them what their experience has been.

After all, word of mouth can’t be beat.

Conclusion

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!