Sunheat Infrared: Does it live up to claims?

Looks nice, but worth the money?

Looks nice, but worth the money?

Winter is approaching and it's getting cold outside, so it's time to put on sweaters in your homes to stay warm (to really save energy) or just turn up your heat (boooo!).  But let's all be honest, as much as we say we can just bundle up inside, nobody likes getting out of the shower or waking up to a cold room.  Recently my interest was piqued about a heater I saw an ad for in Popular Science no less.  The claim at the top of the page was very inticing.  It read: SLASH YOUR HEAT BILL UP TO 50%

Wow!  How can anyone turn that down.  I wold love to pay 50% less for heating.  But how?  Well...that is where things get a little tricky.  The product is called SunHeat and the marketing gurus advertise it as an infrared heating system.  From their web page:

The Original SUNHEAT electronic zone heater is the safest, most energy efficient infrared heater on the market; available only from authorized SUNHEAT dealers. SUNHEAT infrared heating technology is the most efficient way to turn electricity into heat, with high cost of heating fuels; electricity is more affordable than ever.  SUNHEAT lets you turn down the furnace and put heat where you live.

Sounds too good to be true? But wait, there's more!  In their Energy Comparisons section they claim:

In addition, calculations show that the SUNHEAT™ will heat more efficiently than the Heat Pump. With today's spiraling gas, propane and fuel oil costs, it’s obvious that this system can offer you tremendous savings.

More efficiently than a heat pump?  So why exactly can't we see these calculations?  I love it when sites say "calculation show" and then don't SHOW THE CALCULATIONS!!!

And what about this "Infrared Heating System"?  Simple:  The Sun transmits its heat to the Earth with Infrared Radiation.  The SunHeat heater has the word "sun" in it, so ipso facto it is an infrared heater.  Not so fast.  According to Laren Corie of Thermal Attic:

The SunHeat heater, is not a radiant/infrared heater. It is a convective, heater, which does all of its room heating via forced air. It does not supply any infrared heating to the room (besides an insignificant amount from a little warmth of the box) It does the same as a $20 WalMart electric heater will do, at the identical efficiency.

So why does SunHeat call their product an Infrared Heating System?  Probably because it sounds cooler than convective heating system.

I found a blog, Frontlaven, that actually has a pretty good review of the Sunheat.  From his review:

Prior to receiving this, I was going to buy a portable heater that they had at Costco for $60. The main difference was that it did not have a fan and did not have a turn-off mechanism. If you compare this Sunheat with what I was going to buy, it seems like a pretty fair comparison, right? So what's the catch you ask? The price for this Sunheat heater was somewhere in the ballpark of $550-650. Yeah....WTF....exactly my thoughts too.

and then:

This device is a space heater since it cannot heat a whole house. Space heaters can make things catch on fire, so if you use one, don't be a dumbass. If you're not going to use your central heating system to heat your house because it's either too expensive, you're too cheap, or you don't have one, don't make the mistake of comparing this Sunheat heater to a central heater because it's not the same thing.

Bottom Line:

While SunHeat advertises itself as Energy Efficient and able to "slash your heating bills" I just dont see how it is better than a regular convection space heater you can buy at Wal Mart.  The SunHeat will not replace central heating if you have it.  It is a space heater!

As far as saving energy, I'd like to know what they are using for a baseline.  Sure, it probably saves energy compared to heating your home with your oven, but I have central heat with Natural Gas.  Is it going to save me energy?  I have a 3 story town-home, so I would probably need a few of these things to keep it comfortable (for my wife of course.  I sacrifice my comfort to save energy - if you believe this you should buy a SunHeat).  I dont think an electric powered heater is more efficient than natural gas heating.

The nice thing compared to central heat is that you can heat just one room at a time, meaning you don't have to heat "wasted space".  But (according to the Frontlaven review) the SunHeat consumes 1446 Watts!  That's no small amount.  I'm not sure that this is any more efficient than my natural gas heat.  The advertisement from Popular Science claims you can heat up to 1000 sq. ft. for "pennies a day".   Well, only if you had the thing on for less than an hour.  If you used it an hour and it consumes about 1500 Watts (1.5 kWh) and a you pay for electricity at a  rate of $0.10/kWh that comes out to be 15 cents.  I wouldn't call that pennies.  I would call that 1 dime and 1 nickel.  Ok, Ok, I'm nitpicking. The question is could the SunHeat really heat your space just by staying on for 1 hour, and would it cost you less than what you are currently using?  Until you know these answers you don't know if these claims are true!

I'm all for a product trying to market itself, as long as the marketers aren't trying to take advantage of people who don't know to much about energy conservation products.  By nature, energy saving claims are easy to make (I have the most efficient mousetrap!).  Especially when marketers aren't required to provide any data to back up their claims.  If you do want to buy a SunHeat heater, then ask them if they have any studies and calculation to back up why their heater is the most efficient and how exactly it will save you money on your heating bills.   If you can't see the data, then don't waste your money!

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Do the math. What is the outside temp? What are the wind conditions that would create a wind chill? Electricity produces 3412 btu per kw no matter if it is infra red or resistive(convection) the low priced heater you get at Canadian tire will produce the same amount of heat per kw. Where we live electricity is 10.6 cents per kw hour. Natural gas which produces 36000 btu is 24 cents per cubic meter, this means electricity is 4 times more than gas. The claim that this heater will heat 1000 square feet does not state any base line. No doubt in southern climates it would do the job but not here where minus 30 degrees C (22 below F) and wind is 20 Km per hour (12 MPH)is common.
It sounds to me like most people are trying to use the heater as there primary source of heat. I was told that it will help maintain the temperture that your furnace produces.
It's difficult to see how anyone can keep an attic cool without a good <a href="" rel="nofollow">solar attic fan solution</a> up there. Good food for thought, thanks.
It should be said that there are many so-called infrared heating systems around. Unfortunatly most are not as they say and at most can be used only for supplamentary heating. The only true infrared heating system I know of in the USA and Canada is the Prestyl system which does exactly what it says.
Error correction ... Heater #1 was a "Lifesmart Eco Heat Infrared Heater" rather than a "Live Well".
My quest for the basement heater ... roughly 1200 finished sq ft. 800 unfinished .. but blocked from living area. 1. I bought a Live Well infraread heater from Menards for $200. It worked ok for a few days, but it never cycled off set at 70 degrees. It ended up dying (completely powered down every 10 minutes like it was overheating). I would restart it, but it would only run another 10 minutes before resetting again. I took it back. 2. I started thinking ... any 1500 watt heater should work just as well. So I bought a $45 Lasko 1500 watt ceramic heater at Wal-Mart. It oscillates so I thought it might be ok for heating our TV area at least. It not a bad heater in general, but you have to sit right next to it to feel any heat. But it is not even close to heater #1. 3. I just bought a SunHeat 1500 tonight from a local dealer for $300. So far it's heated my basement very well. It is set to 72 degrees and has cycle on and off many times (roughly 10) over the last few hours. Given that it cycles on and off is not accurate to assume 100% power consumption even if left on 24/7. So it's working better (so far) than #1 and way better than #2. I do think it is a little louder than #1 and about the same as #2. At this point ... I'm crossing my fingers that it doesn't die like #1 did. Also, the jury is out on my electric bill. But I need heat in the basement, so I'm going to be paying for something one way or another. I did learn witout a doubt that all 1500 Watt heaters are not equal. They may all consume 1500 watts when running at their maximum, but the SunHeat heater clearly is not running at Max all the time. Apparently it conducts and distributes the heat much better than #1 and especially #2.
I bought the large model ( 1000+sq.ft.) $489.00 It is crap flat out. I live in southern Oregon and heat a 20 x 12 foot room and it does not keep it warm. My $20.00 space heater does a much better job of heating. My thoughts are that it looks better but works worse. Put a bigger fan in the cheap units and they would work better. Just turn them down to 750 watts and of coarse if the heater is useing less watts it will last longer and cost less DA! The same as this sunheat unit does. What a rip off. Don't waste your money on this unit.
Ok so i have read all this, my husband is looking at buying a Sunheat brand heater. I told him they have an equivalent one at menards for $100 cheaper, still these things are ugly. He has been convinced for the last 2 seasons that he defiantly wants one and it has to be that particular brand name as if it is any different than any other out there. He still says he wants to learn how they actually work. Thanks all of you for explaining how they work and how the efficiency measures up. I just hope using this information that i can convince him not to buy one.
My dad was reeled in by a shady dealer selling these out of his home. He enjoyed the warm and fuzzy feeling this piece of crap provided, but my mother that writes the checks to pay the bills will tell you that the electric bill took a 50-60 dollar per month jump. I told Dad up front that the savings the seller claimed were impossible, but he bought one anyway. Sorry kids, but those of you that seem convinced of their cost saving ability must have taken an extra big swig of the Kool Aid. The other thng that ticks me off, is the way seniors are targeted for the marketing campaigns. Lastly, the infrared heating benefits are touted, but these things produce heat by warming a heat exchanger of some sort with the infrared bulbs......and then the blower moves air across the heat exchanger to blow warm air into the room. Infrared heating done to speak. Other that having an "attractive cabinet", I can't think of a single claim made by the manufacturer or seller that's accurate. Oh well, at least the price has come down. And with the recent decrease in the price of these things, has come a less-exaggerated marketing campaign. Weird, huh? If these were MY baby, I'd be all about de-bunking all of the bad press they've gotten since the initial excitement wore off......and backing up the claims with some proof. But instead, the claims were re-camped a bit and the price decreased significantly.......
to the chris on the emily report it does have a thermostat so it does cycle on and off through that hour i have two in my house that is the only way i heat and i pay about 70 a month for the two you can figuare that two but rember it does not run 24/7 it cycles and as far as the walmart heater yea those won't heat a bathroom so how can you compare them maybe get the real facts befor you try to wright a page on it it and if the dealers are telly people right it lives up to what it is soppose to and the way it sounds most people are try to compare the junk ones with the sunheat the i heater and bob villa not any to do with sunheat shows that some people want to talk to make them feel better about them selfs when you write true facts than talk


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