Buyers Guides

I Want to Know Everything About… Bathroom Radiators

Bathroom towel radiator

Bathroom radiators come in a wide variety of shapes, sizes, materials and types and it can be difficult to know what to choose. The decision to purchase a particular type of bathroom radiator takes into account personal taste, budget, space considerations, safety, timescale for installation, energy efficiency and many other factors.

Getting it right could mean that your bathroom is always toasty warm and cosy. However, getting it wrong can result in the room feeling chilly and unwelcoming when you step out of the bath or shower – especially in winter. While there are many varieties of bathroom radiators, within each group there are essentially two main categories – those that provide radiant heat and those that use forced air.

Forced air heating

In a forced air heating system the bathroom is warmed through the application of hot air. The system pulls air from the room, draws it over the heat exchanger and returns it warmer than before. Types of forced air heaters which can commonly be found in bathrooms include panel heaters (which are fitted to the wall) and free-standing heaters, as well as certain types of heater and exhaust fan combination units.

One of the key benefits of forced air heating is the initial upfront cost, which tends to be significantly lower than a radiant heating system. A carefully chosen forced air heating system can also be used as an air conditioning system in the summer months, making it even more economical.

As the air in the room is constantly being forced in and out when the heater is on, this ensures good air circulation and filtering, maintaining a healthy indoor-air quality. These types of heaters will generally warm a room quickly, and are therefore appropriate for small to medium sized bathrooms.

The potential downside to choosing forced air heaters include lack of efficiency, with around 20% of heat being lost on average. Forced air heaters also create a stratification effect, where the natural process of convection sees hot air collecting at the top of the room rather than at the floor where the heat is most needed. It’s worth keeping in mind that some forced air heaters can be quite noisy which can be disturbing when taking a relaxing bath.

Radiant heating

Radiant heat systems work by heating the people and objects in a room rather than the air. These systems can use a series of wires or hot water pipes, or alternatively specific light bulbs. Types of radiant heat systems which can commonly be found in bathrooms include underfloor heating, ceiling mounted heating, baseboard heaters, heated towel rails and certain types of heater and exhaust fan combination units.

The advantages to a radiant heat system include giving a more even heat distribution which focuses the warmth at floor level and just above. Radiant heat is usually more energy efficient as the thermostat can be set approximately eight degrees lower than with a forced air system to achieve the same room temperature.

Once the heater reaches a pre-set temperature it starts to store heat, therefore keeping the temperature in the room consistent. As no air is being forced around the room, airborne particles and dust will be less of a problem. Underfloor radiant heating is appropriate in a bathroom as it works best under non-insulated flooring such as tiles, linoleum or laminate.

Radiant heat systems can be more expensive to purchase and install than forced air systems. In some cases they take longer to reach optimum temperature and heat a room and therefore require more planning ahead.

What are my choices?

Bathroom radiators come in all shapes and sizes using a wide variety of materials, including chrome, steel and brass as well as thermal plastics. In many ways the choice is an aesthetic one, while space considerations are also valuable. In a smaller bathroom, options such as wall mounted panel heaters are often the best space savers.

Visit our radiators page to browse our wide range of bathroom radiators and find the one that will cover your needs!

Energy efficiency

In the modern, greener world we live in today, energy efficiency is a highly important consideration when choosing any form of heating appliance. Not only does purchasing the most energy efficient product for your needs help to protect the planet, but it can save you money on your heating and electricity bills each month.

Opting for the most energy efficient choice means that even in cases where the heating will be used all day, your energy bills shouldn’t be through the roof. Which type of radiator will be the most energy efficient can depend on the size and shape of the bathroom, as well as how often the heater is used.

Heaters are rated by the British Thermal Unit, which is the amount of heat required to heat one pound of water by one degree Fahrenheit. You can calculate the required BTU for your bathroom.

Once you know the required BTU it is much easier to make an informed decision about how large or how powerful a heating system you will need.

Whether you opt for a full renovation with underfloor heating, a simple heated towel rail, or a free-standing portable heater, choosing one which has the right BTU rating for your bathroom means that the room will get to the right temperature efficiently.



Writer and expert