Radiant heaters distribute heat the way the sun does, using radiation. Like heat from the sun, heat from a radiant heater travels "outward" striking objects directly in its path. The heat is then conducted from the heated surfaces to the surrounding air, where it sets up convection currents, gently distributing heat to the space as the warmed air rises. Radiant heat is popular, because most people find it comfortable, they feel warm from the radiation, even though the air around them may be cooler than would normally be comfortable.
Homes equipped with electric radiant heating systems have no furnace, ducts, flue, or chimney.
The heating elements may be ceiling-mounted electric resistance where wires are installed between two layers of wallboard or just beneath the plaster. This location is convenient because from the ceiling heat can easily radiate to the floor, walls and occupants. However, places producing "shadows" (like under tables) may feel cold, because they do not receive direct radiation.
In mild climates the radiant heat wiring is often located in the floor, usually embedded in a concrete slab. Baseboard panels, wall heaters and portable units are also used for resistance electric heating.
Another familiar form of radiant heat is the heat lamp commonly used in bathrooms to take the "chill" off people exiting the shower and in cold garage work areas. These lamps are inexpensive and are ideal when the goal is "warming" people, not the surrounding air.