Electric ‘wallpaper’ could warm homes with radiant heat

Offering a more sustainable heating solution could help more homes transition away from gas-powered heat sources and help the UK move toward its climate goals.

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SOURCEEcoWatch

You’ve probably heard of radiant floor heating for warming floors. But more companies are developing innovative infrared “wallpaper” that can electrically heat a room, with even heat distribution and low utility bills to boot.

Two UK-based companies, iHelios and NextGen Heating, are leading the charge on the electric wallpaper, which uses infrared waves to emit heat to specific rooms or a whole house. Ultra-thin metal sheets are installed in walls, or ceilings or floors, and connect to a home’s electricity.

Wall heating in a basement studio in Geneva, Switzerland. NexGen

NextGen Heating’s panels are only 0.4mm thick, and iHelios boasts a 30% to nearly 100% energy reduction. Both products could replace inefficient radiators and may more effectively heat a room than previous iterations of radiant heating.

The heating products by iHelios need to run about 20 minutes per hour to maintain a stable temperature, Smart Energy International reported. The products can also easily be turned on or off in each room, using a switch or a smartphone app.

The infrared heating panels from NextGen Heating are made with two parallel copper strips and a layer of graphene, which emits the infrared waves when powered with electricity.

iHelios produces film sheets as well as infrared heating panels, both of which the company said are fully recyclable. The sheets can be installed in ceilings or beneath floors, and the heating panels can be installed on solid surfaces. The company’s two products use nanocarbon paste technology and a Positive Temperature Coefficient layer as a safety precaution against overheating.

According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), wall-mounted radiant heat panels are often expensive and best used for supplemental heat. They typically provide the best warmth the closer you are to the panels, but people may feel the heat most only near their heads and shoulders, as the heat distributes unevenly. 

But new innovations in radiant heating for walls and ceilings have designed these products for more even heat distribution and lower costs.

Tina Fawcett of the Environmental Change Institute at University of Oxford told the BBC that while such radiant heating technology can be more sustainable, it may be expensive, and air-source heat pumps could be a better alternative. 

BBC reported that NextGen Heating panels would cost about £4,000 ($4,850) for a three-bedroom home, while installing an air-source heat pump would cost around £8,000 ($9,700). But iHelios noted that an air-source heat pump may require annual maintenance costs, while infrared heating sheets or panels require little to no maintenance.

Either way, offering a more sustainable heating solution could help more homes transition away from gas-powered heat sources and help the UK move toward its climate goals.

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Based in Los Angeles, Paige Bennett is a writer who is passionate about sustainability. Aside from writing for EcoWatch, Paige also writes for Insider, HomeAdvisor, Thrillist, EuroCheapo, Eat This, Not That! and more. She earned her Bachelor's degree in Journalism from Ohio University and holds a certificate in Women's, Gender and Sexuality Studies. She also specialized in sustainable agriculture while pursuing her undergraduate degree. When she's not writing, Paige enjoys decorating her apartment, enjoying a cup of coffee and experimenting in the kitchen (with local, seasonal ingredients, of course!).

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