Heat lamps are incandescent bulbs which have been designed to produce radiation in the infrared area of the spectrum, generating more heat than visible light. Often, the design of the lamp may include a red filter which is designed to cut down on the emission of visible light even more. These lamps are used in a wide variety of settings, and they come in a number of different styles.
The power used by a heat lamp can vary. Since the bulb is designed to get very hot, some special design considerations are involved. Plastic parts are usually not present on the lamp because they could melt, and the fixtures used with such lights also should not contain plastic. The lamp may also come with a metal cage or shield which will prevent accidental contact with the hot bulb, and a reflecting shield which directs the heat radiated from the back of the bulb, making the lamp more efficient.
One of the classic uses of heat lamps is in animal husbandry. Reptiles may be kept with these lamps so that they stay warm, and they are also used to keep baby animals from chicks to lambs warm. In very cold climates, a farmer may use a heat lamp to create an area of warmth in a barn or shed so that animals can stay warm.
Heat lamps are also used in various applications when people need to dry things. For example, these lamps are sometimes used to dry photo paper after developing, ink, and paint, and they are also used in auto shops to dry out engines and components which have gotten wet. The heat produced by the lamp can also be useful in a restaurant, where a heat lamp may be used to keep food warm until it can be served.
Gardeners take advantage of heat lamps to provide a little extra warmth to plants which need it, such as seedlings in a greenhouse which are being cultivated when the weather outside is still cool. Tropical plants may also appreciate these lamps. In these cases, the position of the lamp has to be carefully adjusted to avoid burning or damaging the plants, as too much heat can be dangerous.
Heat lamps also appear in some bathrooms, where they are used to add some warmth to the room so that people do not feel cold after a shower or bath. They can also be used in medical environments to provide gentle radiant heat when it is desired or recommended.