How To Choose A Radiator – The BestHeating Guide

Last updated: August 9, 2018

How To Choose A Radiator – The BestHeating Guide

How To Choose The Perfect Radiator Without The Worry

As anyone that read our old guide will tell you, here at BestHeating, we’re committed to making sure you have all of the help you need when selecting the best radiators for your home.

From sizes, colours, styles and materials, we are dedicated to ensuring we provide all the necessary information you require to make the right radiator choices and heat your home in style and comfort.

Purchasing a radiator is not something that we take lightly and neither should you.

Get buying a radiator wrong and you could be stuck with a big metal box of uselessness that doesn’t heat your space and doesn’t add any value to your home at all.

So to ensure you make the best heating choices, find the perfect heating products and bring warmth, comfort and value to your home’s heating, in style, the next five to ten minutes are going to be filled with all the knowledge you’ll need, as we take you through the BestHeating guide to Buying Radiators!

What Type Of Radiator Do You Want?

 

Girl looking upwards in front of a chalkboard covered in question marks

Back when Franz San Galli first put pen to parchment on an idea for the radiator, back in 1850 or so, you can place a fair bet that he wasn’t expecting anywhere near the plethora of styles, finishes and colours of radiators that we see today.

I very much doubt that he imagined virtually every home (in the UK at least) having one of his ‘hot boxes’ on the wall and there can be no way that he envisioned them becoming a design feature that could add value to your home or that someone like me could make a ‘career’ out of writing about them.

But here we are, in a country that can boast almost 200 million radiators adorning the walls of homes and offices up and down the land.

Whether you’re looking for traditional or contemporary styles, a combination of the two, or something completely out of the ordinary, there are solutions in all shapes, sizes and finishes that have come a very long way since Mr San Galli’s day.

So let’s have a look at some.

Why Buy Vertical Designer Radiators?

 

A great way to help you maximise your space, vertical designer radiators are becoming ever more popular in the modern home and office, and it’s easy to see why.

Milano Aruba Flow Vertical Designer Radiator - Central Connection

Sleek, tall and generally designed with a thin profile, vertical radiators help to create a stunning focal point in any space and can instantly make a smaller room look more spacious and contemporary.

Ideal for rooms in which wall and floor space are at a premium, a vertical radiator operates in exactly the same way as the standard horizontal designs; it just does the job in a cooler (pardon the pun), more attractive and stylish way.

With a variety of colours available to help you enhance a range of different interior designs, there is a lot to be said for a vertical designer radiator’s ability to add an extra style dimension to a room and increase the value of a property.

In an alternate universe – if the standard panel radiator is a Sunday League player – the vertical designer radiator is a World Cup-winning captain.

Our Verdict? – A vertical designer radiator used to be something of a home heating oddity, but not anymore. Many BestHeating customers are surprised by how many of their friends and family have commented on their new vertical radiators; with the overwhelming majority of those comments being very positive. So if you want people to say nice things, you know what to do…

Make space go vertical with a vertical designer radiator

Why Buy A Horizontal Designer Radiator?

 

Equally as attractive and stylish as their vertical siblings, a horizontal designer radiator makes a great replacement for the tired, washed out convector radiator that you probably have sitting under your window right now.

White Terma Aero designer radiator on a staircase

The beauty of opting to stick with a horizontal radiator – instead of going for a vertical installation – is that provided you replace your existing radiator with one with similar dimensions (H x W x D), it should just be a straight swap – out with the old and in with the new.

Selecting a new designer horizontal radiator will create a stylish focal point in any space and also mean that you can stop hiding that tired and sorry-looking panel radiator behind your curtains and finally have a radiator you can be proud of showing off.

Our Verdict? – There is a lot to be said for simply swapping out your old radiator for a better-looking version of the same size. It will save you money on installation, be a lot easier to achieve than perhaps a vertical radiator installation is and shouldn’t hinder any other work you might be doing. Just make sure you take the right measurements!

Why Buy A Flat Panel Radiator?

 

A great way to add a touch of heating minimalism to your space, flat panel radiators offer an uncomplicated and timeless style that is easy on the eye.

Lazzarini Way Ischia radiator on a wall next to a chair

Unobtrusive and more of a design feature than the majority of other radiator designs, a flat panel designer radiator could arguably be considered as more of a furniture piece than a heating solution – offering clean lines and a sleek modern finish.

The simple elegance of a flat panel design like this is that it is both understated and bold – screaming with style without being too flashy.

Place an anthracite-grey Ischia (like the one above) on any wall and you can swiftly create a focal point that is super-stylish and unmissable – or alternatively, if you prefer a horizontal design and a crisp white finish, the Milano Mono is an affordable way to bring a similar style to a space, for less.

A white Milano Mono from Milano Heating

Our Verdict? – A flat panel radiator may not be to everyone’s taste, but it is the perfect heating solution for those who are more minimalist in their approach to interior design and will instantly transform how a room looks. Offering great heat outputs across the range, choosing a flat panel radiator to heat your home will never be a bad decision, whoever you are.

How To Buy A Flat Panel Radiator

Why Buy Traditional Column Radiators?

 

If period styling is your thing, a traditionally styled column radiator is just the ticket for adding an amazing Victorian vibe to your home’s heating.

An anthracite grey period-style column radiator on a panelled wall in a sitting room

Designed to look just like the old-school type cast-iron radiators of a bygone era, these traditionally styled radiators offer great heat outputs right across the range; helping to bring warmth and comfort to a room, instantly.

With black, white, anthracite and a new raw metal finish available, the Windsor range from Milano Heating is fast becoming one of the most popular collections at BestHeating.com.

Though not as heavy as their older period-style cast-iron radiator relatives, these more modern steel designs still carry a good bit of weight, so if traditional column radiators are up right your style street, perhaps investing in a set of radiator feet would be a good idea.

Radiator feet on a white traditional column radiator

Again, as with the vast majority of radiator ranges at BestHeating.com, you can opt for a vertical or horizontal column installation, it all depends on the size, shape and layout of your room.

The great thing about the Windsor collection is that it features a range of low-level radiator designs that are just brilliant for those spaces with extremely low windows – the kind that can often be found in older, period-style properties.

Our trade account holders –  Rayners Property Lettings – show this style off in a wonderful picture they sent to us after completion of a recent project.

two white milano windsor radiators under a pair of windows

A standard convector radiator would probably have just about fit in the spaces under these two windows, but the exquisite styling of the Windsor range gives a whole new look to this space, even without any other furniture in the room.

Our Verdict? – You don’t have to be a fan of traditional styles to admire the amazing looks and warmth provided by a traditional column radiator. This popular style will easily hold its own in a more contemporary setting – as seen by the wealth of images in our store – so don’t be put off by the word ‘traditional’ because every tradition has to start somewhere.

Traditional Column Radiators at BestHeating.com

Why Buy A Standard Panel Convector?

 

If what you’re looking for in a radiator is simplicity, durability and the basic ‘heat me up and keep me warm’ kind of ethos you’d expect from an appliance whose main function is to keep you cosy –  you really cannot go wrong with a simple convector radiator.

Chances are, that if you’re looking around for a new radiator for your home, you are likely to be replacing this type of radiator already – but there’s nothing in the radiator rulebook (because there is no radiator rulebook!) that states you have to stretch to a designer radiator.

You can simply go for a like-for-like swap if you want to.

A milnao compact convector radiator on a green wall in a sitting room

The great thing about a panel convector (such as the Milano Compact above) is that, although they aren’t really much to look at when compared with their designer radiator brothers and sisters, they make up for it in their ability to bring warmth to a space quickly and efficiently.

In a vast array of sizes, there is sure to be a single, double or double panel plus convector radiator in our range that will tick all of your basic heating needs boxes.

Our Verdict? – Whether you choose a radiator for its looks or its ability to heat up quickly or not, is really down to your personal preference, but as a simple and affordable way to upgrade and update your radiators, you can’t go wrong by choosing a panel convector radiator.

Discover a range of convector radiators

Why Buy A Low-Level Radiator?

 

Not every home – or every room in every home – is the same.

What works for me may not necessarily work for you and vice-versa.

And while the new vertical designer radiator that you just had installed in your dining room is perfect for that space, the low window-sills and oversized windows in your lounge are simply not going to be capable of working with a tall vertical radiator.

Thankfully, there are some simple heating solutions that work pretty well in a space like this – one of which is a low-level (or low-profile) radiator.

A low level radiator on a green wall

A low-level radiator like the stunningly beautiful Milano Aruba 400 above is an ideal appliance to choose if you are heating a space with low windows – like a conservatory or a sunroom.

With a height of only 400mm, this type of radiator can easily squeeze under the average conservatory window and ensure that – on those days when the sun isn’t shining – you’ll still have a warm and inviting space to relax in.

Alternatively, you could go for a vertical radiator, but made horizontal.

A grey milano capri on a green wall in a sitting room

Bear with me on this, but there are a number of vertical designer radiators in our store that are equally adept at being horizontal radiators too.

Sounds a bit surreal, but an example can be seen in the Milano Capri in the image above. This vertical radiator has simply been turned on its side and made to fit under a window.

With a height of around 350mm, it is perfect for a tight under-window type of space and you can do this with practically every radiator in the Capri and Aruba ranges.

Doing something like this is great for making a style statement and, as it works in exactly the same way as a standard radiator, you don’t have to faff about with any additional valves or pipework, just take the right measurements and away you go.

Our Verdict?A low-profile or low-level radiator (call it what you will) is a great heating solution for a room with limited vertical space. A lightweight construction means that they are perfect for conservatory walls and with styles and finishes to suit virtually every type of decor, it makes sense to work with what you have and install a radiator that is the perfect fit. Low-level radiators make us love the modern world even more than we do already! Go and get one…

buy low level radiators at bestheating.com

What Size Of Radiator Do I Need?

 

Great question!

Well, choosing the perfect size of radiator isn’t just about what will or won’t fit into a room, it has to be big enough – and pack a sufficient punch of heat – to be able to heat your space to a comfortable temperature.

If you buy a radiator purely on how it looks there is a big chance that you won’t heat your space enough, or perhaps even overheat it and use more energy than you need to – costing you money and doing no end of damage to an already fragile environment.

The size of the radiator you require will mostly be determined by the proportions of the room you are trying to heat, the type of windows and walls in your home and other factors like the kind of insulation you have and what is above and below the room the radiator is intended for.

mathematics on a green chalkboard

Don’t worry though, you don’t have to be a mathematical genius to work out what your heating requirements are.

Thankfully, we have already done most of the hard work for you – all you need to do is take a couple of measurements and use our BTU Calculator to work out the rest.

You could also check out our blog about BTUs and find out what they’re all about before you begin to measure up – or just click the orange banner below to get started right now.

a link to the btu calculator at bestheating.com

What Should Your New Radiator Be Made Of?

 

There are a wealth of different designs and finishes in the wild and wonderful world of the radiator, but when it comes to what material your new radiator should be made of, there are only a couple of choices that you need to keep in mind.

  • Mild Steel Radiators
  • Aluminium Radiators
  • Stainless Steel Radiators
  • Cast Iron Radiators

Each of these different radiator-making materials has their own set of useful attributes – which we will get to in a moment – and whether you select one or the other will depend greatly upon your budget for buying a new radiator and the kind of wall that you intend to install the radiator on – that is, if you are installing it on to a wall.

Why Buy A Steel Radiator?

 

Steel – or mild steel – is the most popular choice for radiator manufacturing, both in the UK & Europe.

This is because steel is the cheapest material to use, is very durable and retains its heat well – a great attribute to have for an appliance that is supposed to get warm.

An anthracite grey milano alpha radiator on a green wall in a sitting room

Steel radiators work really well with low water temperatures, so from an ecological and an environmentally-friendly viewpoint a steel appliance is a good start for any self-respecting heating system.

MARC – the Manufacturers Association Of Radiator & Convectors – even state on their website that “steel panel radiators and convectors are the best way of introducing energy-efficient heat generators into existing properties”.

At BestHeating, we pride ourselves on ensuring we are only ever supplying you with the very best radiators, and our collection of steel radiators and towel rails is amongst some of the very best you can obtain for your home.

The vast majority of metal will corrode over time, that’s why here at BestHeating we only select designer brands that use 1.5mm steel in the construction of their radiators.

You will find that a vast swathe of other suppliers and retailers only use an inferior 1.3mm mild steel – and although there is only a very slim difference between the two, it does mean that we offer industry leading guarantees (20 years) on almost all of the radiators in our collection.

Our Verdict? – Steel radiators are a classic nowadays. A staple on the walls of homes all over the United Kingdom, a steel radiator will always offer you durability, consistency of performance and peace-of-mind. They’re a surefire winner in our book.

Why Should I Choose An Aluminium Radiator?

 

I’m not going to go all OTT on this point, because I have done a HUGE guide to aluminium radiators that I hope you have cast your eyes over already.

A Miloano Aruba Ayre aluminium radiator on a wall in a sitting room next to a bean bag

What I will say, is that aluminium radiators are far quicker to heat up than steel designs – up to five times faster in some instances – so in terms of bringing warmth to your space quickly, aluminium is a great option to keep in mind when you are choosing which radiator to buy.

That said, things that tend to heat up quicker also tend to cool down a bit quicker too.

So while an aluminium radiator is going to be brilliant at raising the temperature quickly on those long winter’s nights, the moment you switch your heating off, the residual heat will dissipate far quicker than it would if you had steel radiators installed.

This is no bad thing though, so don’t let it put you off.

From an environmental perspective, it is arguably better for reducing your overall carbon footprint because of the quick heat up time – as it uses less energy to reach a comfortable temperature.

But in terms of holding on to that heat and sustaining a room’s temperature, perhaps steel is the best way to go.

Aluminium being a super-lightweight conductor also means that it should be cheaper to install, so you’ll probably save a bit of extra cash there too.

Our Verdict? – Aluminium is not to be overlooked when it comes to radiators. Yes, steel is a bit better at holding on to heat, but with an aluminium radiator, you have a range of designs and styles that aren’t as easy to achieve with steel. So if you’re looking for quick heat, in an unusual style, that won’t cost as much to install, get searching for an aluminium radiator.

Why Buy A Stainless Steel Radiator?

 

Though it is more closely associated with heated towel rails, stainless steel is a material that can prove very useful in the construction of radiators.

Stainless Steel radiator on a wall in a living room

Stainless Steel is a material that has been designed not to rust, which makes its use in radiators a bit of a no-brainer.

With water swimming around inside your heating system, having a material that won’t be corroded or damaged by that water is definitely a good idea.

As with standard mild steel, stainless steel radiators will hold on to their heat for quite some time, making them a highly efficient heating candidate.

However, not all stainless steel is created equally and there are some manufacturers that perhaps aren’t as well-versed in the creation of stainless steel radiators as others.

As with most things, the price reflects the quality, and with around 150 different grades of stainless steel available – many of which are not suitable for making radiators with – make sure you buy from good manufacturer to ensure you’re getting the best deal.

Our Verdict? – Stainless steel is a great conductor of heat, but it isn’t as popular with UK market as perhaps mild steel and aluminium are. That said, it does provide a great-looking finish and will hold on to its heat for quite some time and thanks to its ‘stainless’ finish, when it comes to cleaning your radiator, you’ll only have to go to the trouble of a quick wipe down a couple of times a year.

Why Buy A Cast Iron Radiator?

 

A really heavy-duty way to bring heat to your home – and one that could be super expensive if you really push the boat out – is with a cast iron radiator.

A popular choice back in a bygone era, cast iron will hold on to heat much longer than any of the other materials listed here.

a steam-powered cast iron radiator in an old looking house

Normally used in a steam-powered heating system – the type that has become increasingly uncommon in the UK – cast iron radiators are often far more decorative than their more lightweight and affordable cousins.

Cast in sections, building up a cast iron radiator to fit a space perfectly can be convenient, but they are extremely heavy pieces of kit and will always require floor-mounting, so they aren’t always perfect for every space.

There are a large number of UK retailers that supply cast iron radiators to the British market, and we do have them on the way to our store, so be sure to watch this space.

Our Verdict? – Not the best heating solution for everyone, but if you have a good chunk of cash to spend and are feeling that you need to scratch a decadent itch, you can’t go wrong with an ornately styled cast iron radiator. Keep your eyes peeled for them landing here at BestHeating.com.

How Much Does A New Radiator Cost?

 

Well, the cost of your new radiator will depend on the material you go for (as listed above), but the price can range from as little as £15 and effectively go as high and as ludicrous as you can imagine – though you won’t find ridiculous prices in our store.

At BestHeating the average cost of a new designer radiator is between £150-200 – and that is based on the standard heating requirements of a living room here in the UK.

But the cost of purchasing your new radiator isn’t a true reflection of how much – in total – it will actually cost, particularly if you aren’t planning on installing it yourself.

An image of a man tipping the water out of a convector radiator

It can take an hour or two to swap out an old radiator and replace it with a new one, and according to My Job Quote, the average cost of the labour to do so is £180 in the UK, so in total, you can look to pay around £350 to get your hands on the radiator and have it professionally fitted – but don’t forget the valves.

It may work out a little cheaper for you to look at buying a few radiators and having them all fitted as part of the same job, or if you’re feeling up to it, you could always have a go at removing and fitting them yourself as there is no law stating that you can’t do so, not like with electrical appliances and such.

If you are interested in having a go at installing a radiator yourself, simply follow the instructions in the video guide below – and good luck.

Why Buy An Electric Radiator?

 

Adding a new radiator to your central heating system isn’t just a case of extending the pipework you have and tacking a radiator to the wall.

There are a couple of factors that you will need to consider before parting with your money and making a purchase.

A cross section diagram of a central heating system in a modern home

Your boiler system will have a limit to the amount of water that it is capable of heating at any one time, so you will need to be sure that the system you currently have in place can adequately cope with the addition of a new radiator.

But what if that just isn’t possible?

Are there other ways in which you can bring heat to a room WITHOUT moving pipework or having to buy a bigger and far more expensive boiler?

Yes, of course, there are – there’s log-burners, Agas and stoves and even rubbing your hands together too, but what I am really getting at is electric heating – or specifically designer electric heating.

A tall electric milano aruba slim on a green wall in a hallway

A great way to extend your existing heating system – without the need to move pipework or tear up floorboards and such – electric designer heating offers the same amazing looks as the plumbed radiators in the collection but works by converting electricity into heat, instead.

This kind of heating is ideal for your conservatory space, as it won’t require additional planning to install – unlike plumbed heating will – and it should be easy enough to get on the wall by simply using some existing powerpoints.

We would always recommend using a qualified electrician – so be sure to shop around for the best possible quote – and keep in mind that electricity can be very expensive to run, so remember that when selecting the size and style of your electric radiator(s).

Our Verdict? – An electric designer radiator can be a great way to bring additional warmth to a space without having to make huge structural changes or move around pipework. Filled with a glycol solution that heats up efficiently, the electric designer radiators at BestHeating.com offer much in terms of style and heat output and are each available with BlueTooth compatibility that brings a little more intelligence to how you heat your home. Definitely worth a look!

Electric heating solutions at bestheating

Is There Anything Else I Need To Know Before I Buy A Radiator?

 

Though purchasing any radiator is a considered buy, all you really need to know to get it right is the style that you are looking for and what you hope to achieve.

So this could be traditional with a modern twist, outlandishly modern and statement-making, a touch of both or just a simple, affordable like for like swap.

But all of these things are secondary to ensuring that your new radiator is powerful enough to heat your space, so be sure to take the right measurements and know as much as you can before entering that info into our BTU Calculator.

Here’s a little video about what BTUs are all about –

Once you have all the info in the calculator – and you click to ‘calculate’ – we can show you a whole host of radiators that suit your requirements – but the heating fun doesn’t stop there…

What About Choosing Radiator Valves?

 

As you can imagine, a radiator won’t be much use until you have it all plumbed in (or connected to the electricity supply), and everyone should know that with a plumbed radiator you WILL require some radiator valves to make your radiator work correctly.

But how do you know if you have the right ones?

Well, we have an extensive guide to choosing the right radiator valves and there are quick links on each of our product pages to ensure you always have the right information to hand to ensure you always make the best heating choices.

Simply keep your eyes peeled for the “Which Valves Do I Need?” link to ensure you have the right information to make the right choices and you should be on your way to completing the job, in no time.

So, Now I Know How To Choose A Radiator, Where Do I Go?

 

Well, there’s only really one place to be honest – Our store!

Knowing how to choose the perfect radiator for your room – and for you to make a great choice – starts with having the right idea about what you require from your radiator.

It could be that you want a radiator that is only slightly more powerful than the one you currently have, or it could be that you’re heating your bathroom, in which case you’re better off using our Heated Towel Rail Guide.

Then you need to know about pipework and if it needs adjusting and other little things like the colour of the radiator, the finish and the material – then you’re good to go.

I do hope you’ve found this new radiator buying guide useful and that it can help you to find your new radiator without too much fuss.

If you’re still struggling, feel free to drop me an email at john.lawless@bestheating.com or simply leave a quick comment or question below and I’ll be sure to come back to you – alternatively, go and GET INSPIRED by a load of the sexy radiator and towel rail pictures on our Instagram page.

Good luck finding your new radiator and until next time…

Stay Safe & Happy Heating