Far from luxury items, heated towel rails are designed to perform a vital function in your bathroom. But which is right for you? Check out this expert guide before you buy.
Who doesn’t like the comforting feel of a nice warm towel when stepping out of the bath or shower? Today’s modern heated towel rails are designed to keep both you and your bathroom feeling wonderfully cosy, especially during those colder winter months.
When choosing your perfect towel heater, there are a number of things to consider, so it’ll certainly pay to spend a few minutes reading through this expert guide.
Check out this 1 minute video before you begin:
6 things to consider:
1. Central heating or heated element?
The first thing to consider before you buy is whether you’re going to connect the towel rail to the central heating system or use a heated element instead. The main difference between central heating towel rails and electrically heated rails is that centrally heated ones can only be used when the central heating is on, which is mostly during the winter. Therefore, to warm towels in the summer months you will need to turn the whole system on and close the valves on every radiator, except the heated towel rail, so you can use it in isolation.
With dual fuel electric elements available from Victoria Plum, we remove this limitation by allowing you to heat the towel rail in the warmer months by switching to electrical heat and heat in the winter months using your central heating.
Whatever option you go with, you must ensure you get a qualified professional to install it for you, especially if you decide on a dual fuel electric heated element.
2. Size and heat output
Before working out which size towel rail you’ll need, firstly consider the usage. Are you buying for a family bathroom? Do you need multiple towels for family members? Or are you buying for a small ensuite? This may be the difference between buying a large or small towel rail.
Take a look at the heat output of the heated towel rail, which you'll find under "Dimensions and Specifications" on each product page. To provide sufficient heat, and assuming the towel rail will be the only heat source, our recommendation is 400 BTUs per square metre of floor space for a bathroom with one outside wall, one small window and in a house with good insulation.
If you expect you’ll load your heated towel rail with lots of towels, these will absorb the heat before it reaches your room; if this will be the case, go for a slightly higher BTU heat output towel rail—we suggest a minimum 10% higher BTU rating.
At Victoria Plum, we have designer towel rails ranging from a compact 270mm x 500mm, to a huge 1800mm x 600mm.
Handy hint: Find out how to calculate BTU for your room.
3. Installation location
In modern, insulated homes the installed location is less important, but ideally, your heated towel rail should be placed on the coldest wall of your bathroom. The outside wall with the window on it is often the best one. If this isn’t possible, try to fix it on one of the external walls of the room. This will ensure a good repetition of the heat throughout the room, which will gain in efficiency.
The Bali chrome heated towel rail from The Heating Co. sited against an external wall
You can choose from a variety of colours and finishes, including old favourites such as white or chrome. If you’re looking for something a little different, why not choose on on-trend anthracite grey towel rail or an unusual metallic finish like brushed brass?
Painted towel radiators are slightly more efficient at transferring heat than chrome ones as chrome plating is a great insulator—but it does look great and all the chrome towel rails we sell have been salt tested, to ensure they have the highest resistance to rusting and corrosion.
All of our designer towel rails and radiators comply with BS EN 442, the British Standard for heating.
5. Floor standing or wall mounted?
Depending on the amount of space available, you can choose either a floor standing or wall mounted model; the latter being ideal where floor space is at a premium, for example in smaller bathrooms. If opting for a wall hung towel rail, ensure the fixings you used are appropriate for the wall and that the wall itself can take the load. If you are unsure, it’s recommended that you employ a qualified professional.
As well as the height and width of the towel rail, you will need to take the projection into consideration and ensure it won’t end up as an obstruction to anything already in the room. Remember, the towels on the radiator will add a further 20-40mm to the projection, depending on thickness.
Styles of heated towel rails
There are various styles of heated towel rail that you can choose from depending on your own personal taste and the size of the space that you have available. For modern bathroom suites, go for a contemporary chrome plated or white painted design. If it’s classic chic you are looking to achieve, a more traditional style will be suitable. If space is at a premium, you can opt for a wall mounted design. The choice is yours!
Contemporary or traditional?
There is a common misconception that heated towel rails only work with contemporary style bathroom suites, however this is not the case at all. At Victoria Plum, we stock a range of models to suit contemporary or traditional bathrooms.
Modern and up to date, contemporary towel rails are perfectly at home in any modern bathroom or ensuite. Most modern designs have numerous rungs on which to hang your towels and come in a variety of finishes including chrome, black, grey or white.
The Rohe white heated towel rail from The Heating Co. is an excellent example of contemporary design
If you have a more traditional bathroom suite or a period home, you may wish to opt for a traditional style heated towel rail. Some of these have been designed to resemble old style radiators, with enamelled columns—complementing a more classical style bathroom.
The Santa Fe traditional radiator from The Heating Co. is vintage in style, complete with space for hanging and warming towels
Wall mounted options
A wall mounted towel rail is especially ideal where floor space is at a premium, for example in smaller bathrooms. As mentioned above, ensure your wall is able to take the load before buying.
Make great use of your wall space with the Nassau curved heated towel rail from The Heating Co.
A floorstanding towel rail gives you much more space to work with and is especially favourable where an existing central heating connection is at floor level.
The Aziz heated towel rail from The Heating Co. is floor mounted for easy installation
Heated towel rail accessories
Make the most of your heated towel rail with these great heating accessories.
150 or 250 watt dual fuel element kits allow a heated towel rail to be used on mains electric and not as part of the central heating system—ideal for summer months, when central heating is switched off. Always employ a qualified professional to fit a heated element and check that the heated towel rail you wish to buy is compatible.
There are a variety of functional and designer radiator valves, all with a high quality chrome finish. In most cases, you will need to buy these additional to your heated towel rail, but some products come with valves included, so check before buying.
Once you’ve invested in your heated towel rail, you’ll want some nice, fluffy towels to hang on it! For a flowing style throughout your bathroom, buy towels that fit in with accent colours and the overall colour scheme.
Where would your heated towel rail be without a set of soft, fluffy towels?
Shop heated towel rails
Now you've got the know-how, why not browse from our wide selection of heated towel rails and choose the right option for you.
Bathroom heating advice and inspiration
Whatever your bathroom heating needs, you'll find plenty of expert advice here at Victoria Plum. Simply click on any of the links below to find out more.
- How to calculate BTU for your room
- How to fit a heated towel rail
- Bathroom radiators buying guide
- How much does it cost to run underfloor heating?
- Choosing the right flooring for your underfloor heating
- Warmup underfloor heating buying guide
- How to bleed a radiator or heated towel rail
- Bathroom heating advice
- How to save heat in your home
Searching for bathroom heating ideas? Check out these fab blog posts for inspiration.