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Blue Flame vs Radiant (Infrared) Heating: What’s the Difference?

What's the difference between blue flame vs infrared heaters?

Blue Flame vs Radiant Heat: Which is Right for You?

With the cost of heating skyrocketing, more people are looking for ways to limit the amount energy they use.  One way to add warmth without turning the thermostat all the way up is to use a gas vent-free heater as an additional heating source.

Offered in both natural gas and liquid propane, the two main types of vent-free heaters are blue flame and radiant (infrared). While both types work at 99.9% efficiency, how they deliver heat is a little different. Read on to learn the difference between blue flame vs radiant heaters to help you decide which type is right for you.

What is the difference between blue flame and infrared heaters?

Infrared heater
Empire Comfort Systems SR-30T Vent Free Infrared Gas Heater with Thermostat Control

Infrared Heaters 

Infrared heaters, also known as radiant heaters, provide direct radiant heat. This means they use electromagnetic radiation — just like the sun — to directly heat objects in the room. With radiant infrared heat, there’s no waiting to get warm — you’ll be warm instantly, just as if you were standing in front of a fire.

Because infrared heaters transfer heat directly to objects, they’re ideal for uninsulated spaces such as garages or unfinished basements. If you install your infrared heater close to the area where you spend your time, you’ll get the warmth you need to stay comfortable.

The disadvantage of infrared heaters is that they run the risk of igniting nearby objects. If you choose to go with infrared heat, be sure to keep furniture, clothing and children at a reasonable distance from the heater.

ProCom Blue Flame Heater
Empire Comfort Systems BF-30 30,000 BTU Blue Flame Vent-Free Gas Heater

Blue Flame Heaters

A blue-flame heater heats the air in the room. First, the heater heats the wall where it is installed. The heat then moves up toward the ceiling to eventually heat the entire room.

Because blue-flame heaters heat the air vs objects in a room, they’re ideal for insulated spaces. A ceiling fan with the blades reversed can help to circulate the warm air and make the heater more efficient.

There’s not much of a disadvantage to blue flame heaters. Although it may take longer to feel the effects of a blue flame heater, it can heat an entire room vs just the objects in it.

Blue flame vs infrared heaters: How are they similar?

While blue flame and infrared heaters use different methods to keep you feeling warm and toasty, they do have some things in common.

  • Both heaters will heat in the event of a power outage. Only the blower (if the unit has one) will not work.
  • Both infrared and blue-flame heaters have Oxygen Depletion Sensors (ODS), which will shut off the heater before it reaches an unsafe level.
  • Both are vent-free heaters. Since vent-free heaters add moisture to a room, it’s wise to periodically open a door or window while running your heater.


Using an additional heat source in the most used area of your home allows you to lower the thermostat in the rest of the house, which can help you save in energy costs. Blue-flame heaters are ideal for insulated spaces, while infrared heaters work best in uninsulated areas.

It’s important to keep in mind that vent-free heaters should only be used as supplemental sources of heat. This means only operating the heater when you’re in the room and turning it off when you leave. This will ensure your heater delivers top performance all season long.

If you’re considering adding a supplemental heat source to your home this winter, take a look at our blue flame and infrared heaters, and browse all natural gas wall heaters for more selection. We offer heaters in various styles and capacities to suit your specific needs. As always, should you have any questions about our products, feel free to contact us. We’re happy to help you find the right heater for your home.

Mickey Luongo

Mickey is the resident heating and air conditioning expert with over 15 years of experience in the industry.

4 thoughts on “Blue Flame vs Radiant (Infrared) Heating: What’s the Difference?”

  1. 4 Steps to Better Garage Heating says:

    […] Vent-free heaters are argued to be the most economical choice of unit for the way they utilize 99.99% of the energy they put forth to directly heat your garage space, but not all states permit the installation of unvented heaters for the way they remove oxygen from the room while they heat (though vent-free heaters are considered by most to be safe, so long as the heater is equipped with an Oxygen Depletion Sensor (ODS), which will shut off the heater if oxygen reaches an unsafe level). The most popular types of vent-free heater for garage spaces are infrared heaters and blue-flame heaters. A member of our team has written about the difference between infrared and blue-flame heaters previously, and you can read about it here. […]

  2. How to Heat a Barn: A Guide for Consumers says:

    […] Radiant heat can also be directed at certain objects or areas, so you can choose exactly what parts of your barn get heated and which do not. This is especially useful, for example, for nursing sick or injured animals, as radiant heat can be directed at one, single stall without disrupting the others around it. […]

  3. How to Fix Heater Problems: 11 Common Heating Issues says:

    […] you have an electric fireplace, an infrared or blue flame space heater or a wall mounted unit, room heater problems are easier (and usually less expensive!) to resolve […]

  4. Gas Heat - Types of Gas Heaters for Homes & How They Work says:

    […] Vent-free gas heaters are fantastic auxiliary heat sources, with the option of choosing between blue flame and infrared or radiant heat. Vent-free heaters are usually available in gas, liquid propane, or dual fuel setups. They usually […]

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