How to Build an Infrared Space Heater: A Comprehensive DIY Guide

Building an infrared space heater can be a rewarding and cost-effective project for those looking to heat their living spaces efficiently. Infrared heaters work by converting electrical energy into radiant heat, which is then directed towards the desired area, providing targeted warmth without heating the entire room. In this comprehensive guide, we’ll delve into the principles of infrared heating, the materials required, and step-by-step instructions to help you create your own customized infrared space heater.

Understanding Infrared Heating

Infrared heating is a form of radiant heat transfer, where heat is emitted in the form of electromagnetic waves that are absorbed by objects and surfaces in the surrounding area. This method of heating is highly efficient, as it directly warms the people and objects in the space, rather than heating the air itself.

The key components of an infrared heater are the heating element and the reflector. The heating element, typically made of nickel-chromium resistance wire, generates the infrared radiation, while the reflector directs the heat towards the desired area. By carefully selecting the wattage and configuration of these components, you can create a highly effective infrared space heater tailored to your specific needs.

Calculating the Watt Density

how to build an infrared space heater

The watt density, or the amount of power per unit area, is a crucial factor in determining the size and performance of your infrared heater. To calculate the watt density, you’ll need to consider the desired heating area and the power output required.

For example, if you need a watt density of 7 watts/in² for a heating surface of 15″x15″, you can use the following formula to determine the amount of resistance wire required:

Wattage = Watt Density × Heating Surface Area
Wattage = 7 watts/in² × (15 in × 15 in)
Wattage = 1,575 watts

Once you have the total wattage, you can select the appropriate resistance wire based on its diameter and resistance per unit length. This will ensure that your heating element is capable of delivering the desired heat output.

Choosing the Heating Element Material

The most common material used for infrared heater heating elements is nickel-chromium (Ni-Cr) resistance wire. This alloy is known for its high resistance, durability, and ability to withstand high temperatures. When selecting the wire, consider the following factors:

  • Diameter: The wire diameter will affect the resistance and the overall wattage output. Thinner wires have higher resistance and can produce more heat.
  • Resistance: The resistance of the wire, measured in ohms per unit length, will determine the voltage and current required to achieve the desired wattage.
  • Insulation: You can use the wire bare or cover it with materials like glass or fiberglass for protection and insulation. However, this may affect the heating capabilities.

Constructing the Infrared Heater

Now that you have a solid understanding of the key components and calculations, let’s dive into the step-by-step process of building your infrared space heater:

Materials Needed

  • Ni-Cr resistance wire
  • Reflector material (e.g., polished aluminum, stainless steel)
  • Insulation (optional)
  • Enclosure (e.g., cast iron Dutch oven, stainless steel housing)
  • Electrical components (power source, switch, wiring)
  • Digital temperature gun (for safety monitoring)

Assembly Steps

  1. Determine the Wattage and Wire Specifications: Based on your heating requirements, calculate the necessary wattage and select the appropriate Ni-Cr resistance wire.
  2. Prepare the Heating Element: Cut the resistance wire to the desired length and, if necessary, cover it with insulation material.
  3. Construct the Reflector: Choose a reflective material, such as polished aluminum or stainless steel, and shape it to direct the infrared radiation towards the desired area.
  4. Assemble the Enclosure: Select a suitable enclosure, such as a cast iron Dutch oven or a stainless steel housing, to house the heating element and reflector.
  5. Install the Heating Element: Carefully position the resistance wire within the enclosure, ensuring it is securely mounted and has adequate clearance from the enclosure walls.
  6. Connect the Electrical Components: Wire the power source, switch, and any other necessary electrical components to the heating element, following all relevant safety guidelines.
  7. Test and Monitor: Use a digital temperature gun to monitor the heater’s surface temperature and ensure it is operating within safe limits.

Advanced DIY Infrared Heater Projects

For those looking to take their infrared heater project to the next level, here are a few advanced DIY options to consider:

Nano Carbon Infrared Heater

This type of infrared heater utilizes real nano-structured carbon to create a highly efficient and cost-effective heating solution. By following Ohm’s law for voltage control, you can build a nano carbon infrared heater that is both cheap and easy to make.

12-Volt Electric Infrared Heater

Designed for small greenhouse applications, this 12-volt electric infrared heater consumes only 250 watts of power, making it a compact and energy-efficient option. The simple assembly process makes it an accessible DIY project.

Infrared Heater with Heat-Powered Fan

For a more advanced infrared heater, you can incorporate a heat-powered fan attached to the top of the unit. This design allows the heater to burn very clean fuel and reach extremely high temperatures, making it an ideal choice for greenhouse heating.

Safety Considerations

When building an infrared space heater, safety should be your top priority. Always follow these guidelines to ensure a safe and successful project:

  • Use a cast iron Dutch oven or a 304 stainless steel enclosure to contain the heating element.
  • Incorporate a 304 stainless steel wire mesh to protect against accidental contact with the heating element.
  • Utilize a digital temperature gun to monitor the heater’s surface temperature and prevent overheating.
  • Ensure proper ventilation and airflow to avoid the buildup of harmful gases or fumes.
  • Follow all local building codes and electrical safety regulations.

By adhering to these safety measures, you can enjoy the benefits of your custom-built infrared space heater while minimizing the risks.


Building an infrared space heater can be a rewarding and cost-effective DIY project that allows you to heat your living spaces efficiently. By understanding the principles of infrared heating, calculating the necessary wattage, and carefully selecting the right materials, you can create a customized infrared heater tailored to your specific needs. Whether you opt for a simple nano carbon heater or a more advanced design with a heat-powered fan, this guide has provided you with the technical details and step-by-step instructions to bring your infrared heating dreams to life.

Remember to always prioritize safety and follow all relevant guidelines and regulations. With the right approach and attention to detail, you can enjoy the warmth and comfort of your very own infrared space heater.


  1. How To Make A Nano Carbon Infra Red Heater – YouTube
  2. How to make DC Room Heater – Homemade Space Heater – YouTube
  3. DIY INFRARED HEATER | No Electricity Needed For Greenhouse … – YouTube