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What to consider when choosing a designer heated towel rail or radiator
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What to consider when choosing a designer heated towel rail or radiator

Posted by Adam Chard in Buying guides | 3 years ago 10 min read

Looking to dial up the style in your home? We take you through all the things you’ll need to consider when choosing a designer heated towel rail or radiator.

Whether you're attempting a small-scale update or a full remodel, you're going to want a bathroom with a good heating system. Let's face it, there's nothing worse than getting out of the bath or shower and feeling frosty. Having additional bathroom heating makes your environment comfy. Why suffer through frigid temperature shocks when you could make your interiors warm and cosy without any real effort?

The good news is you have plenty of options—from heated towel rails to radiators. These are the simple addition you need to warm up your bathroom, and they can be easily installed by a professional in next to no time. However, the amount of heat you'll get from each differs.

We're here to help you decide between towel rails and radiators if you're unsure which heat source to choose. Here's what you need to know about these heating options.

Terma Hex bright copper designer radiator

What should I look for when buying a heated towel rail?

A heated towel rail will warm your towels, never leaving you shivering after a wash ever again. Heated towel rails will add a sense of luxury to your bathroom while performing a rather sensible action. If you're keen on adding a heated towel rail to your bathroom, we'll discuss what to consider before doing so.

There are a few key factors you'll want to consider before deciding on what works for your bathroom, from the build quality of your heated towel rail to the style and design.

Heat output and heating element

The British Thermal Unit or BTU performance is a key factor. You'll need to opt for quality. The key indicators you should look for are:

  • BTU calculations from Delta T50
  • EN 422 certification
  • CE approval
  • The manufacturer is a MARC member

If you're unsure of these qualifications, don't be afraid to reach out to a manufacturing company with questions. Professional company installers will calculate the heat output (BTU) to ensure your new appliance efficiently performs its heating duties year-round.

When it comes to how bathroom towel rails are powered, there are several options you can choose as a customer. Those are:

Plumbed towel rail

The Heating Co. Belo anthracite grey heated towel rail 1000 x 500

Plenty of British homes are powered by a plumbed central heating system. Plumbed towel rails can use the existing pipework in your home. Since you're using what already exists, there's little disruption and easy installation when you go with this choice.

However, you're not limited to the old stuff—a professional plumber can install new pipework after you've chosen your heated towel rail.

Electric towel rail

The Heating Co. Electric chrome heated towel rail 760 x 610

Electric heated towel rails are a great choice if you'd rather avoid extending your hot water system or relocating pipework. They offer flexibility and easy installation.

The electric towel rail option connects to your existing electric system, making it simple to turn on and off at your discretion.

Dual fuel towel rail

Looking for the best of both worlds? Dual fuel heated towel rails are just that. With this option, you can use your central heating system or switch over to the independent electric heating supply.

A dual fuel central heating system may help you cut back on costs. This is due to its versatility and ability to draw from separate power sources. They may cost more upfront, but what you save over time can't be ignored.

It's also a great solution for the summer months—even when your home central heating is switched off, you can still enjoy the warming embrace of a fresh, toasty towel.

How it fits your bathroom style

The Heating Co. Bali chrome heated towel rail

Just because your towel heater is practical, with its heating capabilities and additional storage space, doesn't mean it can't be stylish.

You'll want to select a heated towel rail that complements your bathroom décor. The good news is a wide variety of towel rail styles exist, from chic designer pieces to traditional-looking towel radiators. Whatever your taste, you're certain to find one that'll blend beautifully into your bathroom. Or, just maybe, your towel rail becomes that statement feature your bathroom is missing.

Let us delve into the various style types of heated towel rails, shall we?

Contemporary ladder towel rails

Ladder rails are what most people picture when thinking of a heated towel rail. They offer a slim, discreet look that is the perfect addition to any bathroom—whether minimalist or traditional. Your warm towel can easily hang from its rungs.

The Heating Co. Lagos chrome heated towel rail

If you're interested in a more dynamic design or are sharing a bathroom space, a curved heated towel rail may arouse your interest. They can offer a bit more hanging space.

Designer towel rails

If you want a heated towel rail with a modern art feel, designer towel rails are a superb option. They can really add a wow-factor to your bathroom.

Terma Jade glavanised copper designer towel rail

There are some absolutely gorgeous options out there. If you're the artsy type or love unique staple items in any room, a designer towel rail will do the trick. Their price point may hurt your wallet a bit more, but isn't beauty worth the pain sometimes?

Traditional towel rails/towel radiator

If you have a period style bathroom, a traditional heated towel radiator is a great choice, featuring a stunning old-fashioned design with modern functionality and efficiency.

The Heating Co. Santa Fe traditional radiator 952 x 659

The towel radiator option is typically floor-mounted, like a traditional radiator, but wall-mounted designs are also available. Certain traditional designs come in a tower style, with a column radiator featuring bars for towels. Towel radiators may offer greater heat output than a heated towel rail (but don't expect a towel radiator to work as well as a standard radiator). Either way, it's certainly something to consider when selecting your towel rail style.

Colourful and eclectic design options

Who said practical couldn't be chic? You'll find heated towel rails and towel radiators made from a variety of materials. And, for those looking for an extra pop, you'll discover a wide selection of colour options available too.

The Heating Co. Mali gold heated towel rail

Chrome plating is the most popular finish, as it matches the fixtures in most bathrooms. Other typical materials available are:

  • Aluminium
  • Mild steel
  • Stainless steel

Towel rails can come in a variety of colours, with some of the most popular being:

  • Black
  • Brown
  • Cream
  • Grey
  • Metallic
  • White

Your bathroom space—where is your bathroom towel rail going?

First things first, you'll need to consider the amount of wall space at your disposal. Take measurements of where you plan to mount or station your towel heater or towel radiator. It would certainly help if you made sure the one you fancy can fit.

Terma Outcorner chrome effect designer towel rail

Lack of wall space? Why not use your corners?

The good news is, there are plenty of sizes to choose from. Heated towel rails tend to range tends from 600mm to 1800mm in height and 400mm to 1000mm in width. Most likely, you have the space you'll need.

What's the best heated towel rail?

This entirely depends on your personal preference. There are multiple sizes available and plenty of designs that'll ring true to the character of your bathroom. The best heated towel rail is one that does its job and does it well.

The most popular heated towel rail does seem to be a simple, contemporary ladder style. They're great for adding extra space for hanging towels, and their sleek design can blend beautifully in any bathroom.

What should I look for when buying bathroom radiators?

If you're looking for more than a warm bathroom towel, it's in your best interest to check out your radiator options. Radiators are an excellent way to warm up larger bathrooms or other places in your home. You'll be glad to know radiators have stepped up their looks over the last few decades.

Before choosing your radiator, you'll need to keep a few key things in mind:

  • How large is your space?
  • How will a radiator look in your bathroom?
  • How is it powered?
  • How it heats and heat output

The BTU needed to heat your room adequately depends on its dimensions, if there are windows and the type of walls you have. However, the BTU ranges from around 400 to as large as 13,200.

As we covered earlier, a central heating system is the most common way to warm a home. However, despite central heating being so popular, there are still other ways to power your radiator.

You can manage the heat function of central heating radiators using radiator valves. These will control the hot water flow. Not every radiator will have radiator valves, but they can easily be purchased as an add-on.

Just like a heated towel rail, radiators can be either electric or dual fuel. The electric kind is still easily controllable, and the dual-fuel type is still a summer month staple.

Will it fit in the space?

The word radiator evokes this ugly, old-fashioned, utilitarian feeling, doesn't it? While the word is antiquated, modern radiators can actually appear stylish, looking gorgeous in any home.

Let's go over the typical styles you can expect to see whilst shopping around.

Contemporary radiators

Contemporary radiators come in both a vertical and horizontal style. They have a smooth finish compared to a traditional radiator. Their panelling can be flat or round-shaped, and there are plenty of compact options.

The Heating Co. Salvador anthracite grey single vertical radiator

Designer radiators

If you'd like to embrace your radiator by making it the centrepiece of your room, you have plenty of options. Designer radiators come in plenty of beautiful styles—like a honeycomb shaping or a gorgeous spiral (see below).

Terma Ribbon VE bright copper electric radiator 1800 x 290 with MOA Blue element - black

Traditional radiators

If you're a customer with a period home (homes from the Victorian period and Edwardian periods are quite common), then a traditional radiator is a prime choice. They feature round, column panelling and can take pride of place just about anywhere.

The Heating Co. Corso white 2 column radiator

Why not check out our Victorian radiator ideas?

Materials and colours

Radiators come in several materials, with the most popular being mild steel. 2 other common materials include:

  • Aluminium
  • Stainless steel

You're less likely to find colour options for radiators (even with towel heaters, they're uncommon), but that doesn't mean it can't transform your bathroom space. The colouring you can expect is:

  • Black
  • Brown
  • Cream
  • Grey
  • Metallic
  • White

Bathroom storage space potential

Bear in mind, the size of your chosen radiator should reflect the size of your bathroom. If it's too large, it may look out of place in smaller bathrooms. You only want your radiator heating system as a focal point if that's what you intend for it to be.

On the other hand, a too-small radiator might leave you and your room chilly come wintertime. In that case, you may as well have gone with one of the towel radiators.

The size of radiators varies between 400mm to 1800mm in height and about 200mm to 1600mm in width. Choose the size based on the size of your room and how many people will use it.

What's the best radiator?

The best radiator should be a durable piece that fits your style and heating needs. A radiator can add a lovely contemporary element to your space, should you choose a designer or contemporary design. If your family bathroom is period in style, then ensure you choose one with modern capabilities.

One thing to keep in mind is that not all radiators will include radiator valves, which allow you to control the hot water flow. If you'd rather not purchase these separately, then check to see if they're included.

The Heating Co. Salvador anthracite grey double horizontal radiator

Discover the best radiator for your bathroom

Conclusion—Is a heated towel rail as good as a radiator?

Radiators and towel rails are 2 ways to provide the comfort and warmth you've missed. Even though they perform similar functions, they offer several differences. While a heated towel rail is perfect for heating towels, it's not the best option for warming your whole bathing room. If your heating requirements are a bit bigger, a radiator or underfloor heating may serve you better.

That being said, towel radiators offer a more compact option. Their ability to hang on the wall minimises the space a towel radiator needs. They also act as an extra way to store your towels. And they're certainly the best way to heat towels.

Hopefully, this guide has helped you choose between heater tower rails and radiators for your room. Make sure you do your own research on both options.

Like this article?

Curious to learn more about home improvements? We have loads of handy home improvement articles, including step-by-step DIY guides, buying guides and room planning tips.

To find out more about the right heating for your home, read our radiator buying guide and our heated towel rail buying guide]( We'll show you how to calculate BTU output for your room and give you plenty more advice on bathroom heating.

Searching for inspiration? Check out all our great heating ideas, like the best radiators and heated towel rails for your bathroom, the best vertical radiators for UK homes and stylish column radiators for hot interiors.

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Searching for that perfect designer heating product that'll add the finishing touches to your home? Browse our huge range of designer heated towel rails and radiators today by clicking on the images below.

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Author, Adam Chard

Posted by Adam Chard in Buying guides | 3 years ago

A born & raised West Countryman, now living on the Yorkshire Coast, for over 10 years Adam has been bringing home interior ideas to life at Victoria Plum. Adam’s favourite interior styles have been shaped by both urban and natural influences.

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