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What is the Difference between Radiant and Convective Heat?

When you are choosing a new heating appliance for your home, it can help to understand the difference between radiant heat and convective heat. The various types of hearth appliances you can choose from provide radiant heat, convective heat, or a combination of both. Hearth experts can advise you of the benefits of the different types of heat, and the following information can also help you identify the best kind of heat for your home.

What is Radiant Heat?

Radiant heat from heating appliances provides infrared heat directly from the appliance’s outer surfaces and onto a nearby person or object. More heat is retained in the lower area of the room. Radiant heat is best for homes that have high ceilings or spacious, open areas. For drafty homes that lack substantial insulation, radiant heat is ideal.

Radiant heat can be compared to feeling heat from the sun. This type of heat transfers radiant energy to an object. How well a wood-burning appliance transfers radiant heat is partly determined by how efficiently the wood is burned. When a fire is burning inefficiently, more of the heat goes up the chimney rather than into the room.

Another way to look at it is that a wood fire provides radiant heat and acts basically like a space heater. A fireplace or wood stove should be installed in the room where you usually spent most of your time in winter months.

Radiant Stoves:

  • Provide uneven, localized heat.
  • Heat objects and people directly.
  • Can be dangerous for small children because the surfaces of the stove can become extremely hot.

What is Convective Heat?

Convective heat is the warmth felt from air that has circulated through and been distributed by a heating appliance. An example of convective heat is a hair dryer. Basically, it is a system of heat transfer. In a wood stove, air may be heated by being drawn into the firebox through side and back panels. Appliances often have fans that help to distribute the heated air throughout the room. The way convection stoves are designed, they are meant to evenly distribute heat around a room.

To be more specific about the air flow, wood fires pull air in from the floor level. The air becomes heated and then, when released, rises up, since the hottest air will move to the ceiling and warmer air circulates to the lower area of the room. If you have a well-insulated home with standard-height ceilings, convective heat is best.

Convective Stoves:

  • If you have small children, it may be the safest options. The side plates where air is drawn in are much cooler, compared to the outer surfaces of a radiant stove.
  • A convective stove does the better job of evenly distributing comfortable heat into a room.
  • If you want to heat adjoining rooms, convective heat is good because the air can be distributed from one room to the next using fans.

When you are ready to choose a new heating appliance for your home, you can visit or call Yankee Doodle Inc. Stove & Fireplace Center. Our experts understand all of the benefits of the various appliances, including the type of heat they provide. Call us at (203) 544-8111 or visit our store at 848 Danbury Rd. in Wilton, CT. Our friendly professionals can answer all of your questions and help you make the correct choice for heating your home, including whether you are better off with radiant heat, convective heat, or a combination of both.