Radiators are commonplace in most UK homes today. They provide us with warmth when we need it and when well looked after, can be relied upon to offer problem-free heating for many years to come. If you are looking to install radiators for the first time, or upgrade your current ones, read our guide to central heating radiators today.
Why choose central heating radiators for your home?
Central heating radiators offer a cost-effective and highly efficient way to heat your home. Here in the UK, many homes are heated using gas central heating based on the use of a gas boiler and a series of connecting radiators. Gas is an energy-efficient fuel and very little is wasted meaning, you can expect a really good return on every unit of energy you use. Therefore, heating your home using central heating radiators will keep your bills low, while still ensuring that every room remains warm and cosy.
Radiators also offer customisable levels of control to ensure that the temperature is always just right for you and your family. Using a combination of wall mounted thermostats and thermostatic radiator control valves (TRVS) – you can ensure that your home maintains a temperature that you are comfortable with.
Radiators are also one of the safest ways to heat your home as they do not require any other materials like wood or coal to remain warm, and they do not need to be fitted in well ventilated areas. Radiators are able to maintain their heat extremely well and they can even be used as an additional way to dry clothing, wet towels and bathmats.
How do central heating radiators work?
Central heating radiators offer a safe and effective way to heat every corner of your home. Their success is based on the continual way in which they move hot water from the boiler out into the radiators installed throughout your home, then call on the boiler again to pick up more heat as and when necessary. It is your gas boiler that starts the process by converting the natural gas that enters your home into hot jets using a heat exchanger. From there the heat energy is transferred to the water, that is then pushed via an electric pump out into the heating system, delivering hot water to flow around the loop inside of each of your radiators.
As the hot water cools when it leaves you radiator, so the system is designed to send it back to the boiler to pick up more heat and begin the cycle once again. Your boiler is controlled by your thermostat that monitors the temperature, switching the boiler on and off as necessary allowing the radiators to warm and cool to suit the surrounding temperature.
What are the different types of radiators?
Although all central heating radiators essentially work in the same way, they certainly don’t all look the same. Depending on your own personal preference and the design aesthetics of your home, there are a variety of central heating radiator styles to choose from:
Single Panel Radiators
These standard looking radiators are commonplace in many UK homes and their basic, but functional design acts as a hot water container to warm your room. Mounted to the wall and facing outwards, single panel radiators come in a variety of sizes, and you may need to have more than one in larger rooms. Their slim design also makes them a good choice for small spaces or rooms where wall space is limited.
Double Panel Radiators
Working in the same way as single panel radiators, these bulkier alternatives offer two single panels stacked against each other to produce around twice as much power. Double panel radiators can also be mounted to your wall, but will not sit as flush due to their size. These types of radiator can make an excellent focal point for a room, as well as blasting out plenty of heat to keep you warm and cosy.
With columns running from left to right, and designs that are wider than they are tall, horizontal radiators are found in many different types of spaces. Great for low level wall areas such as under windows or in conservatories, these types of radiator offer a clean design aesthetic, and an affordable and practical alternative to larger radiators.
These tall, narrow radiators are a great way to save space in smaller rooms, and their unusual looks make them popular with those looking to make a statement. They can free up more wall space for furniture or decoration and there are plenty of different design options to choose from.
Made from tubes that are connected at the top and the bottom, these radiators have a vintage look and feel and are often used as a feature in period properties or modern conversions.
Ladder rails and towel rails
These are small radiators designed to hang towels on to keep them warm and fluffy. They have just enough power to gently heat the room too, as they are connected to the central heating system, although they are usually less powerful than standard radiators.
Where is the best place to install radiators in the home?
The position in which you install your radiators will have a direct impact on their efficiency. For this reason, radiators are usually placed in the coldest part of the room, under or at least near a window, to allow the cold air to create more effective heat conduction.
If your home has double glazing, it may not have a coldest part, therefore allowing you to place the radiator wherever you see fit. In larger rooms, it may be more productive to install two smaller radiators on opposite sides, or under different windows, than it would be to opt for one large one. You may also find that different styles of radiator work better in different places within the home.
What size radiator will I need for each room?
There is a very specific way in which to calculate the size of the radiator you will need for each room in your home, and one that a qualified Gas Safe engineer can help you with. Using a heat output or ‘BTU’ (British Thermal Unit) calculator, you can work out just how much power is needed to heat each of the rooms and living spaces in your home.
Heating efficiency is not just based on the size of your room. The number of windows and doors in the room, the height of the ceilings, whether you have single or double glazing and what you intend to use to the space for will all have a bearing on the size of the radiator(s) you will need to heat it.
Choosing between a single panel or a double panel radiator can also make a difference to the required BTU output of your radiators. The output requirement can also be affected by any other heating or insulation in the room, as well as the type of floors you have, whether the room is on the first or ground floor and whether the room is bordered by exterior or interior walls.
What else can affect the performance of my radiators?
In their purest form, your radiators will kick out enough heat to keep every room in your house warm and toasty. But, as soon as you add in certain additional factors, their performance can change. These include:
The type of room
Living rooms and bedrooms with soft carpets and furnishings tend to hold the heat very well, allowing them to stay warmer for longer. Kitchens however, with laminate or tiled floors will need radiators that can work harder to keep the space feeling comfortable. Hallways are also another consideration, as they tend to have higher ceilings and are more likely to suffer from the draughts from front doors and other openings.
What is underneath the room?
You may well have heard that heat rises, but did you also know that it disperses across the entire floor in all directions? This means that a 1st floor room for example, will usually have lower BTU requirements than a ground floor room with a concrete floor. A badly ventilated underfloor can also cause condensation to build up, which is why many modern homes have underfloor vents to help the heat circulate.
What your roof is like
As heat does indeed rise, it is important to know what it reaches when it gets there. A pitched insulated roof for e
xample, will help to keep the heat in and prevent too much from escaping into the cold air. Differing layers of insulation will also have an effect on your BTU requirements.
What are your walls like
Many houses in the UK have cavity walls, some of which may still be uninsulated, depending on the age of the property. These types of walls are not particularly energy efficient, which is why modern-day houses are built with foam insulation in the cavities to help a house retain its heat.
What your windows are like
Cold windows are a magnet for warm air. Single glazed windows are the biggest cause of heat loss in most UK homes, and you will need a higher BTU to keep the space warm. Double glazing can help retain heat and bring down both your BTU and your energy bills.
Calculating the correct BTU
You can find BTU calculators online that seem simple enough to use, but to ensure that you really are getting the most efficient radiator for your room, you should seek the advice of a qualified Gas Safe engineer to calculate, source and install the best radiators to you.
How to make the most of your central heating radiators
Having central heating radiators installed in your home is a surefire way to create a warm and comfortable environment in an instant. Learning how to make the most of your boiler and central heating system can make it even more efficient, and better still save you money on your bills.
Follow these tips to make the most of your central heating radiators:
Get to know your central heating system control system – You can make the most of you entire heating system by learning how to properly work the controls. It is very easy to stick with the same setting day in and day out, but by learning how to use the controls you can really make a difference. By knowing how to use the timer, for example, you can set your radiators to come on before you get up in the morning or when you come home from work, as well as having them switch off automatically when you need them to. Learning how to set the temperature can also save energy. Finding a comfortable temperature between 18 and 21 degrees Celsius is the most energy efficient range for your home.
Invest in thermostatic radiator valves – these clever little valves work by regulating themselves to help control the temperature. They are incredibly useful as they allow you to control the temperature in individual rooms and spaces, to save wasting energy and ensuring a comfortable environment at all times.
Keep your furniture away from the radiators – In an ideal world, everyone would have large enough rooms to leave their radiators completely exposed to let the room fully benefit from the heat being produced. In rooms where this isn’t possible you should keep your sofa, chairs or other furniture at least 5 inches away from the radiator to allow the heat to circulate.
Keep your radiators clean – if dust and dirt settle in your radiator it can prevent the transfer of heat to the air around it. Stop this from happening by regularly wiping your radiator clean.
Keep your radiators well maintained
There are also small maintenance jobs you can undertake to ensure that your radiators are always running as efficiently as they can be
Checking for leaks – If your radiator has a leak it will affect the way in which it functions. Leaks, even small ones, can also cause damage to your carpets, flooring and even your furniture. Check beneath the radiator for signs of pooling or staining. If it feels or looks wet, turn off the heating and tighten the inlet valves where the water feeds into the radiator.
Bleeding your radiators – A common problem with modern day central heating systems is a build-up of air in the pipework and radiators. If you start to notice that the top of the radiator remains cool even when the heating is turned on, it may be due to the air that has accumulated at the top of the unit.
Using a radiator key, turn the valve at the top end of the radiator anti-clockwise until you hear a hissing sound as
the air escapes. When you start to see liquid coming from the radiator, shut the valve back off as tightly as you can. Bleeding radiators is not difficult but it can be messy. Keep a towel handy to protect your hands and the floor, and a container to catch the liquid.
Of course, if you have a more serious problem with your radiators, or your heating system is failing, you should call in the services of a qualified Gas Safe engineer.
21st century central heating radiators – how to make your heating smarter
Smart thermostats are an exciting piece of technology that connects your heating system to the internet, meaning that you can change the temperature, or switch your heating on or off even when you are not at home. Hailed as the future of domestic heating system controls, smart technology is an affordable way to ensure that your house is always the right temperature.
Once your smart thermostat has been installed, you can use your smart home device like Alexa or Google to set your heating to your preferred temperate in an instant. Smart thermostats also help you to set up a schedule for when your heating comes on and goes off, which in turn helps you to maximise your energy efficiency and hopefully save a few pounds when the bill comes in. Easy to use, super-efficient and with all the fun of a futuristic smart home, these devices are the future of central heating radiator controls in Bristol.
Central Heating Radiator Installation and Repairs in Bristol
By having the correct size and type of radiators installed in your home you can keep it feeling warm and comfortable for many years to come. If you need advice on the right BTU output, the positioning of your radiators or simply need a professional Gas Safe registered engineered to install them for you, DHS-UK can help.
Our Gas Safe registered plumbers are experts in their field and have many years’ experience in providing first class radiator installation and repair services across the South West. We can also help you with domestic boiler servicing, repairs and installations to ensure that your heating and hot water systems are always energy efficient and in perfect working order.