Heated towel rails provide a stylish and practical way to keep towels toasty warm and dry, and although they are seen as a luxury item, they are actually surprisingly affordable. When choosing a heated towel radiator, there are a number of things you need to take into consideration, so take a look at this handy buying guide to help you choose the perfect one.
Choosing a style
From modern ladder designs to traditional towel radiators, heated bathroom towel rails are available in many styles to suit any bathroom. So, before buying a heated towel rail, consider the style of your bathroom and choose one that will enhance the décor.
You will also need to measure the available space to see which size would be most suitable. Heated towel radiators come in a wide range of sizes to suit any bathroom space, from compact cloakrooms to spacious family bathrooms. You could even fit one in the kitchen so you can dry small items of clothing and tea towels.
Think about the usage too. Is the heated towel rail for a family bathroom or a small en-suite? Do you require a number of towels for family members? This will also determine the size of your towel rail.
As well as sizes and styles, there’s also a variety of finishes to take your pick from including chrome, anthracite and white. Chrome is a really popular finish as it blends seamlessly in with other chrome fixtures such as taps and accessories. White is great for creating a fresh, modern look, while anthracite adds a touch of contemporary style.
Traditional heated towel radiators
Perfect for enhancing any period-style bathroom, a traditional towel radiator will create a classic and timeless look. Available in a range of sizes, there are two main designs to choose from; one incorporates a white or black column radiator with metal bars to the sides and top, while the other design features chrome pipes only. Traditional radiator valves complete the look perfectly.
Modern heated towel rails
Modern heated towel rails are ideal if you want to add a designer touch to your bathroom. They can feature a flat or curved profiles, and some even incorporate a handy heated shelf for spare towels. A flat profile will maximise space, while a curved profile is easier to hang towels on.
The heat output of all heated towel rails is measured in British Thermal Units, otherwise known as BTUs. The higher the number of BTUs, the more heat the towel rail will produce. But a heated towel rail may not be enough on its own to heat a large bathroom, you may also need to install another heat source such as underfloor heating.
You can work out the required BTUs by using an online BTU calculator.
Plumbed vs electric heated towel rails
Heated towel rails for bathrooms can either be plumbed into the central heating system, used with a heating element or work solely off the electric system.
A plumbed heated towel rail will only work when your central heating is switched on, which means your towels won’t dry as quick when it’s turned off during the summer months. To get around this you can either opt for an electric only towel rail or you can fit a heating element into your plumbed towel rail so you can enjoy the simple luxury of toasty towels whenever you wish.
The best place to install a heated towel rail
Ideally your heated towel rail should be installed on the coldest wall in the bathroom. An outside wall with a window is the best choice, but if this isn’t possible, an inside wall will work fine or even next to the bath or shower, so that your towel is easy to reach.
If you are replacing an existing radiator, it’s a good idea to opt for a heated towel rail that’s the same width or wider, to help keep plumbing to a minimum. If you choose a towel radiator that’s narrower, more changes to the plumbing may be required, especially if the pipes rise out of the floor.
To complete your heated towel rail, you will need to purchase a set of radiator valves. Available in both modern and traditional styles, as well as angled and straight designs, radiator valves are an essential extra for your heated towel rail.
Angled valves are designed to connect the radiator to the central heating pipework at a 90 degree angle, and are used when the pipework comes out of the wall. This style of valve provides a neater finish as there’s less pipework on show.
Straight valves connect the radiator to the pipework straight up from the floor, so if it runs along the wall and straight into the radiator, then you will need to choose this type.
Something else to think about is whether or not to choose manual or thermostatic valves. Thermostatic valves allow you to adjust the temperature of an individual radiator or heated towel rail. They regulate the flow of hot water into the radiator, and as the room heats up the flow reduces, which helps to lower energy bills. A manual valve works in a similar way to a tap; as you turn it on, the hot water passes into the radiator.