How to select the right radiators for your home


When choosing the right radiators for your home, you need to make sure they’ll give off enough heat (aka “heat output”) and also be efficient. “Not too big, not too small” is the mantra! This guide shares the answers to some of your most common radiator questions.



How do radiators work?

Radiators have a simple but essential task - to give hot water a large surface area to transfer heat into the air of your room. Heated water from your boiler passes into the radiator channels and transfers its heat through the radiator metal and out into the living space. 



What different types of radiator are there?

Here's a quick jargon-buster to decode the different plumbed-in radiators on the market.


  • Convector radiators can be single panel or double panel. The double panel ones look a bit like a sandwich. Panels can be flat or moulded.
  • Aluminium radiators are very energy efficient. They often look similar to convector radiators.
  • Cast iron radiators may be seen as old fashioned, but you get some fabulous designs for period homes. Original cast iron systems may deliver heat via steam instead of hot water.
  • Heated towel rails have that modern bathroom wow factor, and can be used to replace a bathroom radiator - so long as you pick the right size to give off enough heat!
  • Column radiators are sturdy and often traditional in style. They're popular in period homes.


Watch my video on how to install a radiator below.

What is the best radiator for heat output?

Some radiators are better at giving off heat than others. The last thing you want is a room that's like the arctic or resembles a furnace, so it's best to suss out the heat output before you buy.


Heat output is measured in British Thermal Units, or BTU for short. In general, the more surface area a radiator has, the more heat ir will give off. Other factors to consider include:


  • How big is the room?
  • What type of room is it, eg a bedroom or a living space?
  • What features does the room have, eg windows, exterior walls?


The last point shouldn't be overlooked. If you have a one-story house extension with a massive picture window, you'll need a radiator with a high heat output. For a mid-terrace upstairs bedroom with a tonne of insulation above it, and more cavity wall insulation than you can shake a stick at, you'll need a lot less.



Where do I find a radiator heat output calculator?

Our friends at Trade Radiators have a free BTU output calculator on their website.


There you have it, a quick overview of how to choose the right radiators for your home. Check out my YouTube Channel for loads more radiator tips!



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