Radiators & Heated Towel Rails Buying Guide

Where to start

Bathroom heating not only allows you to dry yourself with a toasty towel after stepping out of a bath or shower, rounding off a relaxing cleansing ritual, but if you choose well then you have the added bonus of some heated towel rails and radiators being real statement pieces. You might also want to consider under floor heating if logistics or space are at a premium - we’ll be adding under floor heating to our range in the near future so watch this space!

We recognise that often you can feel spoilt for choice, so we’ve created this handy guide to make the whole process a walk in the park. We want to give you all the tools you need to find just what you want, within your personal budget.

As a starting point, it can be good to ask yourself the following three questions:

What type of radiator or heated towel rail suits your needs?

There are designer, electric and column radiators as well as towel rails. Generally speaking, towel rails give off less heat than radiators because their main function is to warm towels. However, if you have a relatively small bathroom, with good insulation and towel stacking to a minimum then you may find it heats up the whole room pretty well. You will also need to consider how toasty you want your bathroom and/or towels to be (technically this is referred to as the BTU (British Thermal Unit), effectively heat input required).   

If you’re wanting to get a towel rail and your bathroom already has a radiator or under floor heating, then you should be able to opt for a low output (BTU 850 and under). If you don’t have a radiator or under floor heating and want your towel rail to heat your whole room, then you’ll need a higher output rail (BTU circa 1500).

Measure the space available

It’s a good idea to measure how much space do you have before you begin your search. How long your bathroom takes to heat will depend on room size and the BTU output of your chosen radiator/heated towel rail.

If you’re planning on getting under floor heating, it’s important to measure your bathroom’s floor space so you can get an accurate price and order the correct amount of materials.

What finish do you like?

Most radiators and heated towel rails come in chrome or stainless steel. Alternatively, you can give them a facelift with a lick of paint specific to this type of job – providing the added bonus of retaining heat more efficiently too!

Important things to consider 

Before purchasing your chosen radiator or heated towel rail, it’s really important that you consider the following questions:

The right size radiator

The ideal temperature for a bathroom is around 23°C and we recommend 341 BTUs per square metre of floor space so getting the right size radiator is important. The size you need will depend on the dimensions of your room, what type of windows you have and the type of heating already in place. Use a BTU calculator to work out which BTU is right for you. Once you know the BTU units required it’s easy to search for the right radiator as you can sort by BTU units on the radiator search page.

An overview of our main ranges and maximum and minimum BTUs of each are as follows;

Radiator Types
Minimum BTU
Maximum BTU
Designer Radiators
1030
8678
Curved Radiators
1035
3852
Straight Radiators
820
3852
Stainless Steel Radiators
704
7396

Do you want a heated towel rail and a radiator?

Towel rails usually give off less heat than radiators but as mentioned, you might find that a towel rail is sufficient for a small bathroom. For larger bathrooms, you could look at a multi-purpose unit (towel rail and radiator in one) such as the Townley Stainless Steel Radiator (BTU 3713) giving you enough power output and plenty of room for towels.

Cost to heat the bathroom

The initial cost of under floor heating ranges from £20 to £100 per square metre, depending on whether you choose a wet or dry system, and therefore will cost more to install ­than a radiator/heated towel rail but long term costs are more economical. Heat travels upwards so having your heat source in your floor makes scientific sense plus who can resist stepping out of a shower or bath on to a warm floor?

A duel fuel heated towel rail is a smart choice for the financially savvy as you can switch it on independently of your central heating system. That way you won’t need to turn your heating on an hour or two before you use your bathroom, just so your towels are warm rather than heating up your entire home.

Where are you going to place your radiators/heated towel rail?

If you already have a radiator in your bathroom, the easiest thing to do is to have your new radiator or heated towel rail in the same position. However, if you’re considering changing your bathroom’s layout, there might be a better wall for it to sit on.

If you have double glazing, then you’ll have the luxury of being able to place your radiator anywhere in the room. Otherwise it’s advised to put a radiator close to a window to reduce any drafts.

Installation considerations

It’s important to spend a few minutes thinking about installation before you purchase your chosen radiator as it might influence your decision.

Do you plan on getting a professional to install your radiator?

For peace of mind, it’s always worth investing in the help of a professional when replacing a radiator, especially if you’re planning to change its location or install one for the first time.

To get a radiator installed by a plumber can cost in the region of £50 - £200

Your bathroom walls

If you tap your wall and it sounds hollow, then it will likely need reinforcement to support your new radiator or heated towel rail. If you’re planning on fixing your radiator or heated towel rail to a tiled wall, then you’ll need to make sure you get the right type of fixings for the job as screwing a wall plug into a tile can result in it cracking. In this instance it’s much easier to leave this job to a professional.

If you don’t want to alter your walls by adding support you could consider having a standard radiator fixed to the floor or under floor heating instead.

Have you thought about valves and elements?

Whether you’re planning on installing a radiator or a heated towel rail, you’ll need a set of valves which adjust the amount of hot water flowing through your radiator or heated towel rail. Like a thermostat, they help you adjust the temperature of your radiator or heated towel rail, helping you save on your energy bills. Standard valves allow you to turn the radiator on or off whereas thermostatic valves allow you to also change the temperature.

If you are considering an electric or duel fuel option, then you’re going to need to fit some elements. This allows you to use your heated towel rail, even when your central heating isn’t on.

Choosing the right type for you…

The good news is that you can have a towel rail if you a have gas or electric heating system. Most people have their towel rail connected to their central heating so that their heating and towel rail are on at the same time. If you don’t have gas central heating, then you can easily alter how these are powered by adding elements. A duel fuel element will power your heating device from the central heating and electricity. Alternatively, you can have an electric valve which will run off the electrics only.

Towel rails are usually not powerful enough to heat an entire bathroom during winter as their output isn’t high enough and will often be obscured by towels.

The good thing about our heated towel rails is that they are all versatile and can be easily altered to match the requirements of your heating system.

If you’re not planning on fitting your radiator yourself then you should expect a plumber to charge between £50 and £200. The price will of course vary by where you are in the country etc.

Designer towel rails

This range looks great while keeping your bathroom toasty and packs a punch with substance as well as style. In addition to purchasing the towel rail itself, you’ll also have to buy a set of valves.

Smallest BTU Output: Gia

Largest BTU Output: Dino

Cost: £79 - £600

Electric towel rails and radiators 

Electric towel rails and radiators are perfect if you want them to run independently to your central heating system or only have electricity in your home. All bathrooms.com towel rails can be connected via a central heating system or can be solely electric (you’d need to buy elements as well as valves for this). However, given the option it’s worth noting that electricity is generally more expensive than gas so you’ll need to factor this into on-going costs.

Smallest BTU Output: Renwick

Largest BTU Output: Dino

Cost: £90 - £2000


Which material is the best?

When it comes to radiators and heated towel rails the most popular finishes are stainless steel, chrome and white.  Different colours (and materials) take varying amounts of time heat up and cool down; for instance, a chrome radiator will emit 20% less heat then the same radiator with a painted finish.

Stainless steel 

Heats rooms in no time at all because of its heat conducting properties. It also doesn’t rust and retains heat longer than aluminium radiators which means your home stays warmer for longer. Only radiators on bathrooms.com come in this finish, the towel radiators are in a brushed chrome finish.

Cost: £200 to £1140

Chrome 

Chrome plated towel rails and radiators tend to trap heat which is great for warming towels. This material stays warmer for longer but doesn’t emit large amounts of heat so might not be suitable if you’re looking to heat a larger bathroom.

Cost: £90 to £240


Make the most of your space

From cosy cloakrooms to larger statement bathrooms, you’ll need to find a radiator and or heated towel rail that compliments your space.

To help you choose the right one for your bathroom, we’ll discuss some of the options available.

Ladder towel rails

Ladder towel rails have slats running horizontally to heat multiple towels. They can be curved or straight; straight being better for saving space if your bathroom is on the cosier side and curved towel rails suited to large, fluffy towels.

Pros: Plenty of bars or slats to hang towels which is perfect for multiple towels if you have a larger household or towel collection!

Cons: Depending on the width of your chosen towel rail you may have to fold extra wide towels to make them fit.

Cost: £80 - £600

Column radiators

Column radiators like the Meyer and the Pearce are stylish options that heat up quickly and keeps the room toasty. This type of radiator is available in a range of different widths and lengths and allows you to maximise wall space.

Cost: £200 – £1300

 

Choosing the right style

Radiator & heated towel rails might not just have to heat your room and towels; you may wonder how they tie in with the rest of your bathroom scheme. To help you out, we’re going to suggest a few products for the four most popular bathroom themes.

Heating contemporary and modern bathrooms

If you want to create a modern, sophisticated bathroom then a radiator with clean geometric lines such as the Mercado Designer Radiator with its unique coil design or the Pallidio Designer Heated Towel Rail are great modern pieces.

Heating country and seaside bathrooms

For bathrooms with a country or seaside theme, choose something with charm and character. For a country bathroom, we recommend the Gia Heated Designer Towel Rail or the Orla Vertical Single Designer Radiator. Both are in neutral colours and won’t distract from the rest of your colour scheme.

For a seaside theme, the Dynamic Stainless Steel Radiator and the Miller Stainless Steel Radiator mirrors the shapes of rolling waves. For something more understated, check out the Griffin Brushed Stainless Steel Heated Towel Rail.

Heating spa style bathrooms 

Your bathroom should be a relaxing place for pampering so why not bring the feeling of a luxury spa into your own home? Pieces with style and sophistication are key here.   

The Leoni Stainless Steel Radiator, has a striking design and would great focal point in any bathroom. If you have a big bathroom, then why not consider the impressive Pearce Stainless Steel Radiator or Townley Stainless Steel Radiator which not only heats your room but has plenty of space to warm your towels too.

Heating traditional bathrooms

If you want something more timeless, then the Arlo Traditional Radiator would look perfect in any period bathroom.  There are two size options available too so you can find something that works within your space or heat requirements.

Thankfully chilly bathrooms are a thing of the past and you can look forward to a future filled with toasty towels. From style to practicalities, there are a variety of ways to heat your bathroom.

If you need help choosing your sink, taps or shower enclosure, please check out our other handy guides.



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