Do Infrared Heaters need to be vented?

Do infrared heaters need venting? In this article, we’re going to have a quick check!

Quick answer: No, you never need to vent an electric infrared heater. Electric infrared heaters don’t burn fuel or gas. Therefore, they emit no waste gases or water vapor. Only fuel or gas-based heaters need venting. However, you can run a portable propane infrared heater without venting for a few hours. You will only have to vent your room occasionally. Other gas or fuel-based heaters need a fixed vent installation.

Let’s have a look at different types of infrared heaters and whether they need venting.

At the end of this article, I am going to recommend you my two favorite ventless infrared heaters.

One is an electric infrared heater, the other is a propane-based heater.

Which infrared heaters need venting? (Electric, gas, fuel-based)

There’s a very common misconception among people. To answer why you don’t have to vent infrared heaters, we first have to clarify what they are.

What’s the common understanding of an infrared heater?

Actually, every heater is an infrared heater, since infrared radiation is heat radiation. For heat to reach you, all space heaters have to emit infrared radiation.

( Otherwise, you would not perceive your heater as hot )

This means that also gas and fuel-based space heaters are technically infrared heaters.

However, the general public does not refer to gas- and fuel-based space heaters as infrared heaters.

And here’s the misconception:

The technically correct understanding of an infrared heater would be any heater that emits heat radiation. This would include gas- and fuel-based heaters.

But when people talk about infrared heaters, or when you are about to buy an “infrared heater”, it’s always an electric infrared heater.

And this is what causes the question “Do infrared heaters need to be vented?” to be a little tricky.

It is technically the wrong question to ask. Instead, we have to ask the more precise following questions:

  • Do electric infrared heaters have to be vented?
  • Do fuel- or gas-burning infrared heaters have to be vented?

We have to differentiate within the group of “infrared heaters”.

Let’s have a look:

Do electric infrared heaters have to be vented?

No, electric infrared heaters never need venting. Electric infrared heaters convert electricity to infrared radiation.

No fuel or gas burning is involved, which means there is no ongoing chemical reaction in an electric infrared heater.

Infrared heaters work simply by running a large current through their heating element. The heating element is just a simple electric resistor.

The only difference is that it is a solid and large resistor, usually made of thick wire, carbon, or ceramic.

The heating element heats up and starts glowing red hot.

That’s what causes the typical electric infrared heater glow.

infrared heater in front of window angled
Electric infrared heater with the typical glowing infrared heating elements

Because the heating element merely heats up without causing any chemical reaction, it does not produce waste material such as water vapor or toxic gases.

Electric infrared heaters usually consume 1,500W of power. Correspondingly, because all of that power ends up as heat radiation, they produce 1,500W of heat.

That’s enough for keeping most large living rooms warm.

However, 1,500W in electricity can be a bit expensive. In fact, the same heating power would cost you only around a third with a propane infrared heater.

Let’s have a look at these.

Do fuel or gas-burning infrared heaters have to be vented?

Fuel or gas-burning heaters always have to be vented. There are some portable gas heaters that don’t need immediate venting.

These, however, increase the humidity in your room. And if your room lacks oxygen, there’s a chance of toxic carbon monoxide emissions.

So, even portable gas heaters need venting after some time to remove the humidity from your room and to keep the oxygen levels in your room up.

There are other fuel and gas-burning heaters that need installation and ductwork. These are not portable.

The ducts automatically vent the heater, so you don’t need to open your windows.

Fuel and gas-burning heaters always need venting, whether it’s immediate venting (through an installation of ducts) or spontaneous venting (by opening the windows regularly).

The advantage of fuel and gas-burning infrared heaters are the following:

  • Heat based on fuel and gas costs only a third of the same heat based on electricity
  • You can run a fuel or gas heater anywhere without relying on the electric grid
  • Fuel and gas-based heaters can output a lot more heating power than electric heaters. Electric heaters produce up to 1,500W while fuel and gas-based heaters can easily output over 3,000W (roughly 10,000 BTU and more).

Recommended ventless infrared heater

My favorite ventless infrared heater is this Dr. Infrared Heater DR-968 (click here to view it on amazon).

This infrared heater produces 1,500W of heat, which is more than enough for most living room-sized spaces. You can use it in a cabin or in an RV as well.

I’ve already written an extensive infrared heater review about this model.

One reason I like this one so much is that it has a wooden case that does not break down over time.

Infrared heaters tend to get very hot and you can only run an infrared heater for long durations if it is made of non-meltable material.

Best ventless gas-based infrared heater

As we’ve seen, most people interpret the term “infrared heater” as electric-only. However, propane gas heaters such as this Mr. Heater Big Buddy (click here to view it on amazon) are infrared heaters as well.

This model needs no immediate venting. So, you don’t need to install it and you can bring it with you anywhere you like.

This model is propane-based. Propane produces water vapor when burning. So, you might want to vent your room occasionally to get the humidity out.

There’s also a risk of carbon monoxide production if you use it in a very poorly ventilated space.

So, only use this one if you have a window or other types of vents available.


There are electric, gas, and fuel-based infrared heaters. Only electric infrared heaters never need venting, since they don’t rely on a chemical reaction (which produces waste material) to heat.

Electric infrared heaters usually produce about 1,500W of heat. That’s good enough for most living spaces, such as your home or an on-grid cabin.

However, if you need portable heat for an RV or an off-grid cabin, portable propane heaters are far superior.

They are more cost-effective than electric heaters and they produce much more heat. All of that without relying on an electric grid.