A circular radiant ceiling heater with black casing and protective cage.

Radiant ceiling heaters are one of the less common home heating choices in the US, but they can work very effectively in the right setting.

As with other similar appliances, they have their pros and cons, and it’s essential to consider these to ensure they make sense for your project.

The biggest pro of radiant ceiling heaters is that they are very reliable. They do not break down often and can last up to 20 years with little to no problems. And when they do break, fixing them is usually straightforward and relatively cheap. However, the initial installation cost can be high.

Radiant heaters can be powered with either gas or electricity.

Ceiling-mounted gas powered models are widely used in commercial and industrial settings, where they are well-suited to providing heat in high-ceilinged buildings such as warehouses.

Electrically-powered models are the more popular choice for homeowners because they can be safely installed on lower ceilings and don’t make any noise, unlike their industrial counterparts.

The rest of this article covers the pros and cons of electric radiant ceiling heaters so you can make an informed decision about whether they are the right choice for your home.

If you’d prefer to install radiant heating in your floor instead of the ceiling, check out our article all about that, here.

Pros of Electric Radiant Ceiling Heaters

Electric radiant heaters have been around for a relatively long time and offer a quiet, clean solution to your home heating needs.

Here are some of the pros of radiant ceiling heaters:

1. Radiant Ceiling Heaters Are Surprisingly Reliable

An electric radiant heating system is installed in a ceiling
Electric radiant ceiling heating being installed in the ceiling of a residential home.

One of the best things about radiant ceiling heaters is that they’re built to last. With proper installation and maintenance, some models can even last more than 20 years with little to no issues.

Their long lifetime is excellent news if you’re looking for a long-term heating solution for your home. Not only will you enjoy hands-free operation, but you’ll also save on costly repairs or replacements down the road.

However, this doesn’t mean radiant ceiling heaters are damage-proof. It only means you’re less likely to experience issues unless you have a power surge or something similar.

The repairs are also relatively simple and inexpensive. In some cases, you can even do them without calling in a professional.

2. Radiant Ceiling Heaters Are Easy To Maintain

Another big plus of radiant ceiling heaters is that they don’t require much maintenance. In most cases, you only need to keep the area around the heater clean and dust-free.

If you have a model with an exposed heating element, you may need to occasionally wipe it down with a damp cloth to remove the build-up.

You might also need to periodically check the wiring to ensure it’s in good condition. Other than that, there’s not much else you need to do to keep your unit in good working order.

It’s worth mentioning that some types of radiant ceiling heaters use hot water but these can lead to water damage in the event of a leak.

If your model uses water, you’ll need to keep an eye out for potential leaks, particularly if you’re drilling into the wall during a DIY project.

3. Electric Radiant Ceiling Heaters Are Safe

Electric radiant ceiling heaters are also a safe option for you and your family. They don’t give off harmful fumes or chemicals, so you don’t have to worry about them causing health problems.

Also, they don’t produce any sparks or open flames, so there’s little risk of them causing a fire.

In fact, most models have built-in safety features that automatically turn the heater off if it gets dangerously hot.

The only time you need to be careful with radiant ceiling heaters is when you’re cleaning them.

For example, you may get scorched if you accidentally touch the heating element while it’s on.

But the chances of that happening are close to none since you’ll likely turn off the heater while cleaning it.

Apart from those, there’s no need to worry about being unsafe around a radiant ceiling heater.

4. Electric Radiant Ceiling Heaters Are Quiet

Another significant advantage of electric radiant ceiling heaters is that they’re very quiet.

This is largely because they don’t have moving parts that can produce noise.

You might only hear a sound from your unit when it turns on. But once it gets going, you shouldn’t be able to hear it running.

This contrasts with other heaters, such as forced-air furnaces, which can be loud. That makes radiant ceiling heaters an excellent option for people who value peace and quiet.

If peace and quiet is important to you, you should read our article about the best types of insulation for soundproofing, here.

5. Electric Radiant Ceiling Heaters Offer Clean Air

Radiant ceiling heaters also offer clean air, which is a huge plus for people with allergies or asthma.

This is because they don’t circulate dust or other allergens around the room like fan-reliant heaters.

On the other hand, forced air furnaces can circulate the abovementioned, irritating the sensitive noses in your home.

So, if you’re looking for a heater that won’t worsen your allergies, a radiant ceiling heater is a good option.

6. Radiant Ceiling Heaters Come in a Variety of Styles

Radiant heating styles set out in a collage. Hydronic pipes on the left and a rectangular electric and circular electric on the right.
Radiant ceiling heaters come in different styles, to suit any home.

Radiant ceiling heaters also come in various styles, so you can find one that matches your décor.

For example, if you have a modern home, you might want to get a model that comes in a stainless-steel finish.

If you have a traditional home, you might want to get a model that has a more traditional appearance (unless, of course, your traditional home is made of other materials).

You can also get a model with remote control to adjust the settings conveniently. This is great if you want to change the temperature without getting out of bed.

Some models even come with timers, so you can program them to turn on and off at specific times.

Other models have different lighting options, such as built-in lights that can change color.

So, if you want to change the lighting in your room, you should find a model with the right lighting options.

7. Electric Radiant Ceiling Heaters Are Easy To Use

Radiant ceiling heaters are also very easy to use. Most models come with simple controls that allow you to adjust the settings without problems.

Also, some models can connect to the IoT platform (Internet of Things), allowing you to change the settings with your phone or Alexa device.

I know this might not sound like much, but I have one myself and would never think about going back to manual settings, having gotten a taste for using voice commands.

And, if you have pets or children, you would definitely benefit from having one less remote control lying around.

8. Radiant Ceiling Heaters Start Pretty Fast

Finger controlling a thermostat with an outline of a house surrounding the image and electricity pylons in the background.
The beauty of radiant heating is how quickly it heats up the room after you turn it on.

Let’s say you forgot to turn your heater on before bed. So then you get cold and want to turn it on to warm up quickly.

This won’t be a problem with a radiant ceiling heater because they start pretty fast.

In fact, most models start producing heat within minutes of being turned on. So, you won’t have to wait long before you start feeling warm.

On the other hand, some other heaters can take a while to start producing heat. And by the time they do, you might be so cold that it’ll take forever to fall asleep again.

For example, my old furnace used to take an age to start producing heat. By the time I had it going, I was already so cold that I had to sit near the warm air vent for a while.

9. Radiant Ceiling Heaters Are Scalable

You may have heard people say that radiant ceiling heaters are only for small rooms. This isn’t true: Many models are powerful enough to heat large rooms.

So, if you have a massive room you want to heat, you should be able to find a model that will work for you.

Of course, the larger the room, the more expensive the model. But it’s still much better than buying a forced air furnace.

For starters, you won’t have to worry about the humidity and mold problems that can come with those.

You can also have several heaters in one space. So, if you want to heat multiple rooms, you can do so with radiant ceiling heaters. This is just not possible with forced air furnaces.

Cons of Using Electric Radiant Ceiling Heaters

Like everything else, there are also disadvantages to using radiant ceiling heaters. I will go over some of them now so you can decide if they’re right for you, regardless.

1. Radiant Ceiling Heaters Can Be Expensive To Set Up

A fan of money spread out on a white table.
Radiant ceiling heating can be expensive to install, but is it worth it in the long run?

The first disadvantage is that they can be quite pricey to install. This is because you need a dedicated electrical outlet for each heater.

You also need to install a ceiling so the wires can be run through it, adding to the cost of setting up your radiant ceiling heater.

Also, most people will need an electrician to help with the installation. So, you’ll need to factor in the cost of hiring one when deciding if a radiant ceiling heater is right for you.

In case you’re wondering, the price of radiant ceiling heaters ranges from $300 to $1,400 per room. Installing them in every room can be pretty costly if you have a large home.

2. Radiant Ceiling Heaters Can Be Costly To Operate

Another disadvantage of using radiant ceiling heaters is that they can be quite expensive to operate.

This is because they use a lot of electricity to run, and you need more than one unit to heat your home.

They also don’t provide cooling, unlike a heat pump system, for example, so you’ll need a separate cooling system if you live in a hot part of the world, which further adds to your HVAC bill.

Spending over $2,000 per year operating radiant ceiling heaters is possible. If you’re not careful, they can be quite costly to operate.

An excellent way to help you save money with a system like this is by using a programmable thermostat, so you only run the heater when needed.

3. Domestic Electric Radiant Ceiling Heaters Might Not Work for High Ceiling Homes

One more drawback of radiant ceiling heaters designed for use in a domestic setting is that they may not work well for high-ceiling homes.

This is because the heaters need to work harder to fill the room with heat, given that hot air likes to rise.

Domestic radiant ceiling heaters are designed for standard homes with relatively low ceilings, so unless you want to install an ugly industrial-looking unit, the available models might struggle to provide sufficient heat.

I’ve seen people who’ve tried to use radiant ceiling heaters in their high-ceiling homes and have been unhappy with the results.

In these cases, I don’t recommend using these heaters. Instead, go for another option like baseboard heaters or even forced-air furnaces (although you do have to consider the drawbacks for those, as I’ve explained earlier).

4. Radiant Ceiling Heaters May Not Be for Every Home

A ceiling tile being slotted into place in a suspended ceiling.
Not all ceilings are suitable for radiant ceiling heaters.

Here’s the thing: Radiant ceiling heaters will not work for every home. This is because they need to be installed in the ceiling, and not all ceilings can support the heater’s weight.

So, if you’re considering getting a radiant ceiling heater, ensure that your home can accommodate it first.

This is especially true for homes in heritage zones and older homes. They usually don’t have the necessary infrastructure to support a radiant ceiling heater.

Besides, the authorities likely won’t allow you to make any changes that could potentially damage the home.

Also, if you live in an apartment, you might be unable to install a radiant ceiling heater. This is because apartments usually have concrete ceilings, which will look weird if you install protruding heaters on them.

So, before you get your heart set on getting one of these heaters, make sure your home can accommodate it.

5. Some Radiant Ceiling Heaters Require Professional Repair

I did say earlier that, often, all your radiant ceiling heater needs is a quick clean-up every once in a while.

However, depending on the model, you’ll likely need more than a DIY solution if your heater sustains significant damage.

In my experience, you’re unlikely to have to make significant repairs (though they’re still worth keeping in mind).

Final Thoughts

I think the best way to decide if electric radiant ceiling heaters are right for you is to ask yourself a few questions.

  • Are you comfortable with the installation process?
  • Are you okay with relatively high electricity bills?
  • Do you like how they look?

If you answered yes to all these questions, radiant ceiling heaters might be suitable for you.

However, if you answered no to any of them, I recommend looking into other options.

There are many different types of heaters, each with pros and cons. So, make sure you do your research before deciding.

You can read more about radiant ceiling heating in our in-depth article where we go even further into the details about how it works.

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