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Radiators buying guide
Inject some style into staying warm
New radiators can be a great way to improve the efficiency of your home’s heating and update the look of a room.
You don't have to be limited by the size and style of radiator that you’re replacing, there are loads of options to choose from, which will fit with your style and generate the right amount of heat for your room.
In this guide, we’ll take you through what you need to consider when buying your new radiator. You’ll also be introduced to our handy BTU calculator which will tell you how many and what size radiators you’ll need, at just the click of a button.
Find out more
Our FAQs will answer the most common questions our customers have when it comes to buying a new radiator. It’s a great place to start to make sure you’re getting the best radiator for your home.
How many and what size radiators do I need?
Whether you need a plumbed or electric radiator, before you start you will need to know about BTU’s. Our easy to use BTU calculator will help you to work out how many, and what heat output you’ll need, to get the most of your new radiators. All you need to know is the dimensions of your room, and the type of windows you have.
What is a BTU?
BTU stands for British Thermal Unit, which basically represents how much energy it takes to heat 1 pound of water by 1 degree Fahrenheit. All radiators are assigned a BTU rating, telling you have many BTUs they produce. It’s a quick and easy way of letting you know how much heat your radiator will generate. If you’re struggling the match the exact BTU rating you need with a radiator, choose one with a slightly higher output to make sure your room is warm enough.
Where should I install my radiator?
- Spend some time looking at where you would like to hang your radiator. The type of wall will give you some clues as to the best size and style of radiator for your room.
- If the wall is constructed from solid masonry, brickwork or blockwork you will have the greatest choice of radiators. With the right fixings, larger radiators can be hung from strong solid walls.
- If the wall is constructed from plasterboard with hollow space behind (a drywall or studwork wall), you’ll need to identify where the studs run. A stud finder is a helpful tool that will find these with ease. The studs are the strongest part of your wall, and your radiator will need to be hung from these.
- Try and avoid installing your radiator behind big pieces of furniture, you’ll stop the heat from travelling around the room.
- Don’t forget to insulate if you’re hanging it on an external wall, this can be done easily with a heat reflector.
What kind of wall do I have?
The easiest way to find out whether your wall is sold or plasterboard is to knock on it and listen to the sound it makes. If it’s plasterboard it’ll be hollow and so will make a louder sound, if it’s masonry, you’ll just hear a dull thump with no reverberations.
Plumbed or electric?
Your house will either use a plumbed hot water central heating system, or electric radiators.
If you’re looking to replace or add more radiators you’ll probably want to use the system you already have - although there are instances where you might want to switch.
For example, an electric radiator can be easier to install in a location where your plumbed central heating doesn’t presently run, so can be a good solution for loft conversions, extensions and conservatories.
- Plumbed radiators Plumbed hot water systems use a boiler to heat hot water which is then circulated around your home through pipes.
- Electric radiators Electric radiators are not controlled centrally, instead they’re controlled in each individual room. Modern styles are slimline, easy to install and only require a mains electricity supply in your home. Some models are ‘plug and go’ and can be plugged into a conventional plug socket, others will require an electrician to install.
You can add a thermostatic heating element which will turn your radiator into a dual fuel set up. This is a device that sits in your radiator and allows you to heat up your plumbed radiator using electricity. The benefit of this is that you’ll be able to independently heat up one, such as your bathroom towel rail, without using a lot of energy to heat up your whole house.
Dual fuel radiators offer you a lot more flexibility and control than standard radiators and towel rails, as they can be used when your main central heating system is turned off.
Consider your existing pipework
Look at where your pipework runs – does it run along the wall or up from the floor?
- If it runs along the wall you’ll have plenty of options if you choose to change the size or style of the radiator. A new radiator that’s the same width or wider than the existing one can easily be fitted with any excess pipework cut away. Choosing a narrower model may require the pipework to be extended - if you’re unsure about this consider asking a qualified plumber.
- If it runs up from the floor, this can present a few challenges. If you’re opting for a similar size replacement it shouldn’t be a problem, but if you’d like to change the size or style you may need to lift the floorboards to move the pipes. Take a few minutes to measure up the size of the wall or area where you’d like to hang the radiator, the distance between the existing pipes (in and out) and the distance between the studs if you have a studwork wall.
Will I need radiator valves?
You’ll need a pair of valves for every plumbed radiator in your home, as these are used to control the heat output. These need to be bought separately to the radiator.
Make sure you know how big the pipe is so you can buy the right size, and keep in mind that the type of pipe you have will affect the type of valve you’ll need. Normally you’ll need to buy a 15 or 22mm valve as these are the most common pipe sizes.
Choosing your style
Central heating radiators
These radiators have the highest heat output and greatest heating efficiency of all plumbed radiator styles, making them a popular choice in many homes. They use corrugated panels (convectors) to radiate heat into the room.
You can get single panel styles for smaller rooms, or double panels which produce more heat, and stick out further from the wall. For the greatest heat output consider a triple radiator which uses a combination of three panels and three convectors. Great for larger spaces, they’re also ideal if you are extending a room and don’t want to install additional radiators.
If you’re looking to add or to retain period charm in your home, why not consider a column radiator to give a traditional feel to your room? Similar in style to cast-iron radiators that originated in the Victorian era, these modern models keep the look but provide greater heat efficiency than their predecessors.
Make it a feature!
If you’d like to create a design feature in your home, consider using a feature bench above your column radiator. It makes an ideal landing spot in a hallway for keys and mail, or can be used as a bench besides a window for extra seating or to provide storage. If you’re opting for a bench, you’ll want to use floor-mounting brackets for additional support.
Designer radiators can bring a range of benefits to your home – from space-saving technologies to dual purpose products that can act as mirrors, memo boards and more.
They’re an ideal way to lend a modern, contemporary feel to a room and can create stylish, attractive features that you won’t want to disguise.
Vertical radiators are available is an array of colours and styles which fit conveniently into thin wall spaces, and make a creative alternative to more traditional ones. If you have a smaller room, these take up less space, leaving room for more furnishings.
Vertical radiators can be pieces of décor in themselves, especially if you choose a bold design to break up the texture of the wall.
Dry your towels and add some extra warmth into your bathroom with a towel radiator, keeping you snug and cosy can be easy and stylish.
We have a variety of heights and widths available to suit all layouts.
Electric radiators are a great choice for rooms without existing pipework, such as loft conversions. They’re easy to fit and energy efficient.
Another benefit of electric radiators is that you’ll be able to accurately control the temperature using an inbuilt thermostat.
Cast iron radiators
Cast Iron radiators take longer to heat up and cool down, keeping them warm long after you turn your heating off. This means they’re a great choice for big rooms with high ceilings.
The style is great for an older period home, or could be a beautiful feature in contemporary décor.
Flat panel radiators
If you’re looking for a quick and easy way to change your radiators, look no further than our flat panel easy-change options.
These are designed to be compact, and can fit in to any home, without taking up too much space.
Stainless steel radiators
Stainless steel radiators are designed, not only to be a stunning feature in a room, but also very efficient. They’re available in loads of beautiful finishes, which are easy to clean and maintain.
Stainless steel won’t corrode or rust like some metals, and therefore lasts a long time.
Our mirror radiators are a great choice for hallways, bedrooms or bathrooms, because they give the perception of a bigger space.
They double up as a stylish addition to the room, whilst giving you heat and depth.
Space saving radiators
Space saving radiators are perfect for making the most out of your room, whilst keeping your home warm.
These can wrap around corners, and fit into narrower spaces, whilst being stylish and blending with your décor.
Radiator covers and cabinets
A radiator cabinet can safely and stylishly disguise your radiators.
Essentially, these box in your radiators, allowing you more freedom to decorate in keeping with your room or make a feature of the radiator.