Examples of Radiant Energy All Around You

, Staff Writer
Updated May 26, 2021
example radiant energy campfire
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The term radiant energy refers to energy that travels by waves or particles, particularly electromagnetic radiation such as heat or x-rays. Radiant energy is created through electromagnetic waves and was discovered in 1885 by Sir William Crookes. Fields in which this terminology are most often used are telecommunications, heating, radiometry, lighting, and in terms of energy created from the sun. Radiant energy is measured in joules. Review these radiant energy examples to deepen your understanding of this type of energy.

Everyday Examples of Radiant Energy

Virtually anything that has a temperature gives off radiant energy. Some examples of radiant energy include:

  • The heat emitted from a campfire
  • Emission of heat from a hot sidewalk
  • X-rays give off radiant energy
  • Microwaves utilize radiant energy
  • Space heaters produce radiant energy
  • Heat created by the body can be radiant energy
  • Home heating units
  • Fixtures that convert solar energy to heat
  • Electricity
  • A surface heated by the sun converts the energy of the light into infrared energy which is a form of radiant energy
  • Cell phones utilize radiant energy to function
  • Magnetic motor generators that utilize neodymium magnets create radiant energy
  • Audio signals that come to home or cars via radio waves
  • The light emitted from a campfire
  • The light generated from a light bulb
  • A heated brake disc giving off heat
  • The heat from a grill used for cooking
  • Heat emitted from a bunsen burner
  • Heat from an overused computer
  • Heat emitted from a dryer
  • The heat generated by a light bulb
  • A window reflects radiant energy
  • Heat created from a stove or oven
  • Heat emitted from a washing machine

Naturally Occurring Examples of Radiant Energy

Some forms of radiant occur without requiring human intervention or technology. There are examples of naturally occurring radiant energy everywhere.

  • Visible natural light from the sun
  • Gamma rays
  • Radio waves
  • Ultraviolet light
  • Infrared radiation
  • Light from the sun
  • Heat caused by friction
  • Heat generated through the reflection of visible light
  • Soil or sand becomes warm by absorbing radiant energy
  • Water can reflect or absorb radiant energy

Understanding Radiant Energy: How it Works

Radiant energy is a form of kinetic energy. Kinetic energy refers to the movement of energy, whether it is in the form of atoms, molecules, waves, substances or objects. Other forms of kinetic energy include thermal energy, sound energy, motion energy, and electrical energy. Without radiant energy, like that from the sun, life on Earth would not be possible.

Are you wondering, "How does radiant energy work?" Maybe you still wonder, "What is radiant energy?" Radiant energy is the result of a change in the configuration of electrons. It can travel through any substance including air, liquid, glass, and space. However, matter is not necessary for the transmission of radiant energy. Even in a vacuum environment, radiant energy can move.

Radiant energy moves in a straight line at a very high speed and can be absorbed, transmitted or reflected.

  • Radiant energy is reflected if the object receiving the energy cannot absorb it.
  • If the energy is only partially able to penetrate the object, then it is absorbed.
  • The energy is transmitted if an object cannot absorb it.

Learn More About Energy

All of these examples help to better explain the important concept of radiant energy. Now that you are familiar with several radiant energy examples and how radiant energy works, move on to learning about other forms of energy and the roles they play in your life. Start by reviewing different types of energy with everyday examples.