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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I am curious about the general view of this type of heater. A Sunheat may not work as efficiently as advertised, but I don't want to have to buy several heaters that are cheaper but quit working sooner, so overall quality has to be an issue. The other issue I have is that my house is poorly insulated and has only electric wall units from the 70's for heat. They are incredibly inefficient and cost us around $500 a month over last winter. We live in Kansas where winters regularly are quite cold, so we need something. Gas isn't an option. My question is, would a Sunheat work 'better enough' for us than what we have?
It's cold again, so time to dust off this thread. I do understand that 1500 watts = 1500 watts & therefore in theory all electric space heaters put out the same heat. But in practice, they do not. I bought a much cheaper brand of heater that is like the sun heat & it pumps out much more heat than the previous 3 types of space heaters that I have tried. It also seems safer because the box stays cool - I think the fan keeps the heat from building up too much in the unit & I like that it has a thermostat. I did see a less gimmicky site that listed the square footage as 1000 if using as supplemental heat and around 1/2 that if it was the only source of heat. I think that is much more realistic based on my experience. I probably would have not tried an infrared quartz heater at full price, but I'm really happy I have it now.
You said you were happier with the cheaper infrared heater than the 3 previous heaters you bought. What kind of cheaper infrared heater did you buy?
I bought the Twin-Star Powerheat - I think it's the generic Duraflame. Sam's sporadically has them really cheap ($139), but Northern Tool also has them on sale ($169). We have heated with just space heaters for 2 years while saving up for a heat pump. The first winter I bought 3 hydronic baseboard type heaters thinking they would be the safest solution, but all of them had melt downs. We also burnt out a regular, cheaper baseboard style heater. I think the lack of a fan lets too much heat build up around the electronics, so this winter we are trying the Powerheats plus a Vornado. It is too early to testify about longevity, and it hasn't been terribly cold yet - but we feel warmer. For clarification - we are using 2 Powerheats in a 950 sq ft house & will still need a smaller (lower watt) heater for 1 bedroom. I also have a 400 sq ft cottage that I have been heating with the Vornado & I just bought another Powerheat for it. The air coming out feels warmer, but not sure it is better than the Vornado. I will need to leave one on while I'm at work, so safety is the most important factor. Both heaters stay cool while on - so they seem safer to leave unattended. Hope this helps, Tammy
Bought one of these 6 years ago. It heated a total space of about 600 sq ft "without" a main furnace on at all. Now that our furnace is back I keep it in a 12-15 attic room with greta results and I am buying another 750 watt Sun Heat for the 600 sq ft first floor so I can turn down my main furnace . The thermostat works greta and the thing is very efficient,
My inlaws bought this as a present since they have a Eden pure and love it. I will say it does heat well but you will pay. It rose our electric bill $100.00 a month. We were so shocked we even called the electric company and they had us turn everything off in our home and turn one thing at a time until the culprit was found. It was indeed the Sunheat. And about 75% of the time it only ran at night. It will heat but you pay and on the side note, the temp ryeg( comfort zone) works horribly!
My parents live in a 100 year old house. They purchased an EdenPure which goes along the same lines as the Sunheat. My father said it costs about $100 per month to run but it saves them 2 propane tanks of gas which is anywhere from $900 to $1200 which makes their saves $200 to $300 per month. I do understand peoples savings will be different but they have had the EdenPure for a couple of winters now and it easily paid for itself during the first winter.
I currently have 2 Sunheat units. I have just moved into a new home, but here is what I have experience the last 3 heating seasons......................... I have one Fireplace model and one 1500 watt box style unit. I couldn't be happier with them. My home was a little shy of 1000sq ft and very very old. It had awful windows, not much insulation, and was built directly on a concrete slab. Very cool in the winter time. Anyways, before purchasing the SH units I paid over $275 a month to heat my home. After buying the SH units my gas bill dropped to less than $50 a month, and my electric bill only increased about $60 a month. (This is with leaving the 1500 unit on 24hrs a day, and running the Fireplace just in the evenings when I'm in the family room.) MY house was also so much more comfortable than previous seasons. There really is a difference in a Sunheat vs. a walmart heater. If you use it as it is intented for, the SUNHEAT is GREAT!!!! It is to suppliment your current heat system, not heat your whole home. It is a Zone heater.
I own a business in a 100 year old building (2000 sq ft) with brick walls, tall ceilings, no insulation, and no buildings on either side of mine. I was told that there was pretty much nothing that could be done to heat my building in the condition it was in(it would actually get into the low 40's inside the building on cold days), but I took a chance with the Sunheat unit. I bought four($300 each) and ran them 24/7, with them NEVER turned off (if I turned them off it took another 3 days for the place to warm back up after turning them back on), and actually was plesantly surprised by the result....the building stayed fairly warm. I'm not convinced that they are really that energy efficient (my highest bill was $520, but again they never turned off...not sure what my bill would have been with electric or gas given the same conditions). Overall, I was very pleased with the result of these units.
I appreciate the information about the Sunheat Infrared Quartz Heater, as I am contemplating purchasing one. I am now confused by all of the negative comments. My local hardware store sells them and can't keep enough of them in stock. They seem to be made much better with the steele housing & not plastic. People I know who have this brand & similiar ones that I have personally spoken with, say they love them & have saved a lot on their electric bills. The hardware store says they have very few come in for repairs on the 03 year warranty (they may be biased, but word-of-mouth & reputation are important here). We have a 2200 sq ft, 10 year old double wide mobile home with an electric heat pump. We average about $160.00 per month for electricity in the winter with a 30 to 40 degree average temperature which does get down to 15 degrees on a few days. Our rates of electricity are low compared to other places, I am told. So, what is the best brand to buy all around for quality and efficientcy, if this is a energy hog? Thanks, Mary in southern VA


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