Convection is the transfer of heat by the movement of particles, while with radiation, heat is transferred through electromagnetic waves. Convection is considered to be more efficient than radiation in most cases.


Convection is the process of heat transfer by the movement of fluids. The word convection can refer to natural convection, where the fluid is free to move, or forced convection, where the fluid is moved by an external force such as a fan or pump.


Radiation is the transfer of energy by electromagnetic waves. Unlike convection, radiation does not require a medium to travel through and can occur in a vacuum. Radiation is a relatively slow process of heat transfer, but it can be very efficient over long distances.

The difference between convection and radiation

Radiation is the process of heat transfer using electromagnetic waves. The sun emits radiant energy, which travels through the vacuum of space and is intercepted by the earth’s atmosphere. The atmosphere then absorbs some of this energy and re-radiates it in the form of infrared waves. These infrared waves are what we feel as heat when we are exposed to them.

Convection is the process of heat transfer using fluid flow. When a fluid (liquid or gas) is heated, it expands and becomes less dense than the surrounding cooler fluid. The hot fluid then rises and the cooler fluid sinks, creating convection currents. These currents can be used to transfer heat from one place to another.

How to know which one to use

Convection relies on hot air rising and circulating throughout a space, while radiation heats objects in a room directly.

There are pros and cons to both convection and radiation heating. Convection is typically more efficient since it evenly heats the air in a space. But radiation can be more effective in certain situations, like when you want to target a specific area or object.

Here are some things to consider when deciding whether convection or radiation heating is right for you:

The size of the space you want to heat: If you’re trying to heat a large area, convection might be a better option since it will evenly distribute heat throughout the space. Radiation, on the other hand, can be more effective in smaller spaces since it heats objects directly.

How quickly you want the space to be heated: Convection takes longer to heat a space since it relies on hot air rising and circulating. Radiation heats objects more quickly since it transfers energy directly.

Your climate: If you live in a colder climate, radiation might be a better option since it can provide direct and targeted heat. But if you live in a warmer climate, convection could be sufficient for your needs.

Examples of convection and radiation

Examples of convection include:

-A pot of boiling water on a stovetop
-A radiator in a room
-A fan blowing air over a room

Examples of radiation include:

-The Sun warming the Earth
-A campfire warming people around it
-An infrared lamp used for heating

Photo by Huper by Joshua Earle on Unsplash

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