With the temperature falling by the day, it's finally time to turn the heating on. I don't know about you, but until the time came to renovate our bathroom, I didn't have a clue about heating. I didn't know what BTU stood for (although I knew it kind of measured heat output?) but knew that the more of it, the warmer your room (and the higher your energy bill); and that underfloor heating was quite expensive. Heating can be seriously overlooked in a home design but imagine how many times you have looked at an old radiator and thought "Oh God, I so want to change it".
Let's agree on one thing: just because that old radiator was there when you moved in, and still happens to work properly - even though it's an eyesore - doesn't mean it needs to stay there forever. If you are designing your home or giving a room a makeover (check our bathroom renovation here), choosing the right radiator can make a whole difference to how the room looks and feels. And you can always donate any unwanted but fully working radiator!
The cost of adding a new radiator
There are two common options for heating a room other than with a fireplace. The first one is to install a radiator. The second to install underfloor heating.
With a radiator you need to think about the aesthetics: some radiators simply look awful when you have pipes protruding from the floor. To get the pipes into the wall may cost you a little more but the result will be far batter.
Besides the radiator cost itself (they start around £90), you need to consider these hidden costs:
moving the pipework to the right place (especially is you are changing the size; this affects where the valves will connect the radiator to the central heating water pipes);
installing an electric heating element to make this a dual fuel radiator. You should consider this, so that you can turn on your radiator in the summer months to heat up your towels when central heating is off. These elements cost around £80-90 but also add the cost of the hardwiring, which is usually £60-100 and needs to be done while your floor/walls are still 'open'. It will not be possible if this is on external wall and you have tiled already.
When you choose a heating element, the heater power output should be as close to the radiator power output as possible. Here's some help (and you can find all the below heating elements at Best Heating UK):
400W Heating Element is equivalent to 1365 BTUs.
600W Heating Element is equivalent to 2047 BTUs.
800W Heating Element is equivalent to 2729 BTUs.
1000W Heating Element is equivalent to 3412 BTUs.
1200W Heating Element is equivalent to 4095 BTUs.
The cost of adding underfloor heating
On the other side, if you prefer to keep the look minimal, you can opt for underfloor heating. However, you may still want to consider having a towel rail, again to dry your towels in the summer months.
For a standard size bathroom, the complete materials cost for underfloor heating is around £500 for a top of the range system that you can use from your phone, whereas a more plain one (entry level) will be around £250 (and that is including the heating mesh, the required membranes/boards, adhesives etc. On top of that, the installation cost is around £800 plus £150 for the electrician to connect it to the mains and certify it. It is expensive because of the many layers that need to go down.
You need to keep in mind that house movements can damage the electric mesh, and that tiling above it needs to be done slowly and carefully; and that after a good 5-7 years it may no longer give you the output you had initially. So what do you do then? Remove the tiles and everything?
High quality Italian design & manufacture with the BDO Step from The Radiator Company. It comes with a 10 Year Guarantee and is available in 4 sizes. Price Range inc VAT: £1,200.00 to £2,535.60
So you decided to buy a new radiator. Where should you place it in a room?
We often see radiators placed under a window. Why is that? Doesn't this send the hot air to the list insulated place in the room? Well, not really! It's all about physics. Apparently draught is directed upwards thanks to convection from the rising hot air, making the room feel warmer and providing a more even distribution of heat. Any draught current around the room is warm air, not cold air. Obviously with the double glazed windows this is no longer a problem but historically, the single glazed windows and poor wooden frames created a draught and that is why the radiators were seen placed there.
The point is that you can now place the radiator anywhere you want around the room. Just remember to take accurate measurements to make sure it fits in the space you have allocated for it!
To keep costs low, always try to place the radiator in the same place it was before. Otherwise you need to re-route the pipes to the new position.
What style radiator ?
In our ensuite bathroom renovation I initially went for a towel rail. Which did not fit its allocated space (surprise, surprise). I then bought this Milano Alpha - Black Horizontal Double Panel Designer Radiator (635mm x 630mm) from Best Heating UK. This is a slim radiator that is meant to deliver a toasty 3000+ BTU for our ensuite bathroom (and if you are not sure how many BTU you need to heat up your bathroom, check their handy calculator).
The new radiator was delivered on a Tuesday morning having been ordered on Saturday after hours. Sadly I opened it and it had a minor chip off the paint. Nothing to panic about - after all I wrote about the need to do quality control of all the products you receive in every project, and liaise with brands for returns.
So we took the measurements that we needed, penciled in where the valves should go and placed it back in its box to arrange for the replacement, which was delivered next day.
Fast turnaround overall and a great team on Twitter too to keep me up to date with progress on the replacement. Later, I also found out that Best Heating also has a Houzz award for Best Service in 2018 (which is provided once you have gathered a number of positive reviews on Houzz). That really reassured me that I would not be messed about. So thumbs up to them!
So talking about the various styles of radiators you could go for...
Vertical or Column Radiators
These are increasingly popular, mostly because they are considered space saving. The can be really slim, from only a couple columns wide, and very tall (to over 1800mm). They look equally good in the bathroom, kitchen and contemporary living spaces. Column radiators offer a greater heat output to cover large and high-ceilinged spaces.
They come in a variety of sizes and colours. So just because you need the extra heat doesn't mean you will compromise in style or be restricted with colours. Sometimes, however, they are not so easy to clean!
Below, the Milano Aruba Slim - in white or black is a space-saving vertical Designer Radiator (1600mm x 236mm, £114.95 inc VAT and free delivery, Best Heating UK).
Halo Vertical in Metallica with Chrome Valve, perfect for its low water consumption. £915.60 to £2,040.00. The Radiator Company
Ladder Towel Rails
Towel rails can work together with underfloor heating or they can be your stand alone heating source in a room (mostly a bathroom). They come in a variety of sizes but look mostly contemporary when you go for a ladder style like these Crosswater towel rails shown below (available on Bathroom Village).
Heated towel rails are often not seen as a necessity in your bathroom but I think they serve a double purpose. Depending on their size they can replace your radiator and you can also dry your towels on them. They add a touch of luxury and given the variety of sizes they come in, you can have them in any room big or small.
Crosswater Wedge Heated Towel Rail 500 x 1096mm, £187 for a black one or £481 for one in chrome, Bathroom Village.
Crosswater Svelte Heated Towel Rail 500 x 1110mm, £370, The Bathroom Village
Panel Towel Rails
Besides the ladder style towel rails, we have recently seen more panel-like ones like the Tratto towel rail (available on The Radiator Company) which provides a Btu Range of 1894 to 2354 and is priced between £2,269.20 and £4,375.20 including VAT, depending on size. We like this one because it is versatile. It can hold a good number of towels on the top part, or you can dry one on the front rail. This model also comes with LED light.
If the architecture of your home demands it, maybe you should opt for traditional looking cast iron radiators. These are more bulky but they are built to last! Some, like the Trieste radiator by The Radiator Company are available in popular paint colours like Farrow & Ball's 'ammonite'. It is available in 2 or 3 column, 6 heights and up to 40 sections and comes with a 20 Year Guarantee. Available in 26 RAL Colours and 33 Special Finishes. The price per section starting from £52.56.
Ancona in antique copper horizontal, The Radiator Company
With the black tap trend growing in the bathroom, it certainly makes sense to equip all of the room with other black accents, including a radiator.
But if, like me, you love colour, maybe you want to consider a radiator that will draw attention to it? Bisque are well known for their range of radiators that are available in RAL colours.
Sometimes the space you have might require a special shape radiator. But don't worry, many companies out there provide such specialist products. I love this curved radiator perfect for a round bay window or to frame a staircase wall.
Online places to buy a radiator from