Where To Position A Radiator

Last updated: August 9, 2018

Where To Position A Radiator

The Do’s & Don’ts Of Positioning Your Radiator

If you have a radiator in your living room, it’s likely to be beneath the window, on an exterior wall.

And if you’re thinking of replacing it, you’ve probably assumed your new radiator needs to be mounted in exactly the same place.

But think again…

Stylish Chrome Designer RadiatorAlthough radiators have typically been installed in this position for decades, technological advances in home heating mean that traditional limitations, which may have restricted radiator placement in the past, have been removed.

Available in all sorts of wonderful shapes and sizes, today’s designer radiators can be fitted in a multitude of places, including alcoves and internal walls.

This can help to make the best use of limited wall space and create a striking focal point in the process – proving that radiators are no longer just a metal box that kicks out a bit of heat!

While you no longer need to fit your radiator under the window, there is some logic in doing so.

Historically, radiators were fitted in the coldest part of the room – the exterior wall – where cold air would enter and drop to the floor.

black horizontal designer radiatorIn times when double glazing was almost unheard of, placing the radiator here helped to eliminate the cold draught that would often come through the window.

However, with double glazing standard in almost every home, we now have the freedom to position our radiators almost anywhere we choose. To ensure you get the best from your radiator and allow for optimum heat output, there are a number of important points to remember, though…

Keep It Away From Furniture

Wherever you choose to put it, try not to position your radiator behind large items of furniture, such as the sofa or cabinets. Doing so will restrict the flow of hot air around the room. Keep the immediate area surrounding the radiator as clutter-free as possible to allow the heat to successfully travel and permeate the room.

Avoid Full-Length Curtains

If your radiator is swamped by floor-length drapes, the heat is trapped, and cannot fill the room. Similarly, mid-length curtains can restrict the heat output of convector radiators which blow air from the top. Try and ensure your radiator is positioned away from curtains and upholstery that could affect its performance.

Don’t Let The Pipework Dictate The Position

While it’s tempting to stick with what’s already there, don’t let the pipework you currently have in place dictate where you place the radiator. Changing its location could free-up valuable wall and floor-space, which you’ll find can be put to better use.

There's a lot to consider when it comes to buying your boiler- Image by Erik Eckel (Flickr CC)

Choose A Style That Suits The Space

Slim-line, vertical radiators are ideal for the kitchen, where wall-space is largely consumed by units and worktops. Choosing a style that is in keeping with the kitchen decor will also enhance the overall look of the room. Opt for a traditional, column radiator in country-farmhouse style kitchens, or a sleek, high-gloss model if your kitchen is contemporary.

Could A Low Profile Radiator Be The Answer?

If you’re heating a conservatory or a room with very low windows or a small amount of space, perhaps opting for a low-level radiator could be the answer.

low level radiator

They’re perfect for adding a little touch of luxury to a space and kick out a fair amount of heat considering their size.
You could say they are the pocket rocket of the radiator world.

Have You Thought About Dual Fuel?

If you’re replacing the heating in the bathroom, consider a dual-purpose heated towel rail, which will keep the bathroom cosy and welcoming, as well as the towels warm and dry. The right position is crucial here; be sure to place the rail as close as is possible to the shower or bath, so that towels are within reaching distance.

Would A Convector Radiator Be Better?

Similarly, if you have no choice but to place the radiator behind furniture due to space-restrictions in your room, consider choosing a convector radiator which will emit heat from the top instead of a panel which will radiate heat straight into the back of the settee or furniture.

Don’t Forget To Insulate

If you simply have no choice, or you do choose to place your radiator on an exterior wall, be sure to insulate it well. Placing a sheet of foil-faced, expanded polystyrene lining behind the radiator will ensure that heat is reflected back into the room, instead of being lost through the outside wall. This is a cheap and convenient way of maximising the heat output of your radiator.

So Go & Make The Most Of It!

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Hopefully, these useful tips will give you the confidence and inspiration to think outside the box when it comes to positioning your radiator. And, with so many styles and finishes in the BestHeating.com range, the possibilities really are endless!

Stay safe and happy heating.

54 responses to “Where To Position A Radiator”

  1. Great blog you have here but I was curious about if you knew of
    any user discussion forums that cover the same topics talked about in this article?
    I’d really like to be a part of online community where
    I can get feedback from other experienced individuals
    that share the same interest. If you have any suggestions, please let me know.
    Bless you!

    • John Lawless says:

      Hi Diana, thanks for the kind comments. There are many similar chats about this kind of thing on Reddit and various Facebook groups that could help you out too. John

  2. RubyCook says:

    I can never understand why most radiators in modern houses are positioned under the windows! Ruby

  3. Florina says:

    can i place a radiator near the consumer unit?

    • Hi Florina.
      There are no real notes in the regulations that I can find, but common sense would say to keep it at least 250mm away if it is pipework, and even further away if it is the radiator.
      As you can imagine, heat will melt plastic and that’s something that you really want to avoid. Don’t have any joins in pipework near to the unit.
      In all honesty, there isn’t a standard that dictates where it can and can’t be in relation to your consumer unit, but water and electric (as you know) shouldn’t mix, so try and stay safe with it.
      If you have any concerns, or are still unsure, it’s definitely best to contact a gas registered engineer.

  4. Sam says:

    My daughter bedroom is box room but 2 external walls had to fit radiator on internal wall where the narrow side of the room it’s only 1.7mx2.8m radiator is 600mm but the room is so cold any suggestions please

    • Hi Sam, if you haven’t done so already, I would recommend putting some radiator foil on the wall down the back of the radiator. Something like Radflek is good. I would also perhaps look at purchasing a radiator fan, or radiator booster. They can help to circulate the air in the room. I would also look at how well insulated the window is, and whether there is any way to further insulate the walls. You can get hold of insulating wallpaper, but it can be a bit pricey. There is polystyrene stuff available for about £9 a roll, but it’s less effective than the more expensive stuff. Another way to try and retain heat is to get up in your loft and have a look at the insulation up there. You may often find that, at the very corner of the house, the insulation isn’t flush to the eaves, so take the time to look up there and see if there are any gaps to fill. You won’t do any harm adding a little more insulation above the room, but again, it can get pricey if you go higher end. Failing all of that, you could look at buying a bigger radiator, but there is an obvious cost to that as well, bigger rads will cost more to run usually, so if you do go bigger, be sure to invest in some TRVs to control the temperature as best you can. I hope this helps a little, if you would like a more in-depth chat, why not give our technical team a call on 0344 417 2563. Good luck!

  5. Alan says:

    Hey John, do you have any estimates of savings that can be made (perhaps in a %) by not positioning furniture in front of radiators?

    • Unfortunately not Alan. I did actually check for figures on such savings when writing the piece. But sadly, my go to resources for such things, like the Energy Savings Trust and elsewhere didn’t actually have any definitive figures. I guess it’s hard to judge to be honest, but common sense would seem to dictate the terms in this situation. Heat will be readily absorbed by furniture, so it’s always best to keep a radiator clear. As for the percentage saving, I think more research needs to be done before I can give you an answer deserving of the question. If you do find somewhere that can tell you though, please come back and let me know. Thanks.

  6. james says:

    Hi John, I want to put a small(ish) electric radator in my kitchen but the most low profile spot is just at the base of the stairs that goes upto the room above the kitchen. Will this still heat the kitchen or will the heat disappear up the stairs?

    • Hi James, well as you know already, heat does rise, but there has been a precedent for something similar that we have been sent before. The image below was sent in by one of our customers, who had done the same at the bottom of their stairs. I would say that a lot of the heat would travel up the stairs, due to convection, but a larger radiator would perhaps do a job. https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/713ffa6326127dc3f9ec5d63f5b45447bd8f32ff3cd42cd92a6a57c53394de2b.jpg
      The way it works normally is that 30% of a radiators heat is ‘radiant’ heat and the other 70% is convective. so I would say that if you bought a radiator with a high enough heat output, you could probably get away with it. I hope this helps a little.

  7. Bec says:

    Hi, thanks for this info it has been useful. My kitchen has no radiator currently and limited wall space so thinking of putting a small radiator on the end of the wooden kitchen cupboard unit rather than a wall do you know if this would be ok or a bad idea?

    • This is not uncommon at all Bec. Perhaps go for a Dual Fuel Heated Towel Rail in the kitchen though. If you’re a cooking type and have the oven on a lot – Great British Bake Off style – you will have a lot of residual heat coming from the cooker. In a small space, a radiator with too high an output could make it like a sauna in there. With dual fuel, you also have the option of using the radiator or towel rail independently of the main central heating. This blog explains a bit more about dual fuel – http://www.bestheating.com/info/blog/about-dual-fuel-towel-rails/ – But what you’re suggesting isn’t too uncommon, just be sure you calculate the correct output with our BTU Calculator – http://www.bestheating.com/btu-calculator

  8. ayuche1954 says:

    A plumber has just installed a double panel double convector radiator in my bedroom. There is about 1 inch space above it and above it is a 2 ” thick 8ft floating shelf from Ikea. I’ve just realised that heat comes from the top of a convector. Have I been had? Should he have done this? The whole point of this radiator which emits nearly 7000btus is that i have never been warm in my bedroom & had to use fan heaters. He re-sited the positioning of my new rad from elsewhere in the room & didn’t say anything about the shelf being a bad idea!
    What should I do now? Should I remove the shelf which has all my toiletries stuff on it and is really useful!

    • Hi there ayuche1954, I wouldn’t say that you’ve been had, no.
      What I would say is that putting a shelf over the top of your radiator could perhaps reduce the efficiency of it.
      As I said below (in the other comments), radiators work through natural convection, so you need to have space for an adequate amount of air to move under and through the fins at the back of the radiator and back out into the room.
      Obviously, the shelf is a practical addition to your bedroom, so rather than doing away with it altogether, perhaps move it up a couple more inches to allow the air to flow properly round the radiator – that way you have the best of both worlds.
      Some people would even say that the shelf will help to push the heat out into the room, but this will only be worth it if there is adequate space above the radiator.
      In short, my advice (if you want to hold on to your shelf) is to move your shelf up a couple of inches if you can and this should help the warm air to move around more freely.
      I hope this helps.

  9. NiteGoat says:

    My wife and I recently rented a home tat was built in 1931, which has radiators for heat. Two of the radiators, one in the breakfast nook and one in the front entrance, are at an angle and not flush or parallel with the wall in which they are mounted against. Is this normal, or is there something wrong? The one in the breakfast nook I s especially annoying because it takes up room, preventing us from putting a larrger table and chairs in there.

    • Hey NiteGoat (top name), sorry, I wasn’t notified of this message for some reason. As for the radiator – “normal” – no it isn’t, it sounds like they have been installed poorly or at least not properly. If you could post a photo that may help me to diagnose what the best course of action is, but, if they are taking up space that you could make better use of, I would recommend replacing them with something that isn’t as obtrusive.

      • NiteGoat says:

        Thanks. I’m renting the home and their heating and cooling guy tried to preposition them yesterday, to no avail. He said he doesn’t believe they are original to the home, since the fittings are not of a standard size. Because of this, he said if he were able to convert them, he would have to tear out the wall and re-plumb them, which of course he is not willing to do. So I guess I’m stuck with an almost un-usable breakfast nook.

        Thanks for your reply.

  10. Zainab says:

    Hi… I wanted to ask is it ok to have a large radiator behind a sofa.. or under the tv… or near my French doors

    • Behind a sofa is not always a great idea as it blocks currents of convection from moving around the room. Under a TV shouldn’t be too big a deal, as long as there is a good bit of space between the top of the radiator and the television, and your french doors should be fine near to a sofa.

  11. Rai says:

    Hi john, my radiator is exactly opposite to window on the wall . My friend is suggesting me to move the radiator underneath the window because there is little bit damp on side of window . He think radiator is at wrong postion that’s why damp is there . Do you thank that will help ? Really confusing Thanks !

    • Hi Raj,
      Good question. An external wall can suffer from damp issues, but before you go to the trouble of moving pipework and repositioning your radiator, it may be an idea to check the outside of your property to see if there is anything you can do to prevent the damp there, first. If the problem persists, then it may be a good idea to reposition the radiator under the window. That will help with raising the temperature there and should see a reduction in the damp as the space begins to dry out due to the radiator’s position. It shouldn’t be too expensive to do either, and once there, the issue should subside over time. I hope this helps. John

  12. Marcus Stewart says:

    I’d have added to this article that another reason for siting rads below a window is that the external wall itself is cold and there may be some benefit to off-setting that with the rad, but mainly that furniture tends not to be placed under a window, so this maximises use of wall space.

    • Agreed Marcus, I actually thought I had put that in there lol.
      I won’t bother going back and adding it in, as you have been kind enough to point it out for me.
      Great point, well made.
      Cheers

  13. Ulia Ula says:

    Hi John! In this moment I do prject of heating and all our radiators I put under window. In generall it is our traditional in Ukraine.Very intresting to read your blog.Thank you.
    Today I found it and going to read more.

    • Thanks for reaching out all the way from the Ukraine Ulia. It’s pretty much the tradition here in the UK too, but more and more people are putting radiators on internal walls because of better windows keeping the cold outside at bay. That said, it makes more sense to put them under windows, even now, because the space can’t really be used to put anything else. Thanks for commenting and good luck with the project.

  14. Gwen Shannon says:

    Hi,I just bought a new larger radiator to move from an internal wall to under our large 3 metre wide window. The house built in the 70’s had an odd mix in the lounge ,I believe of a myson heater and a gas fire. There is not much actual wall space in a large room.Previous owners had put in 2 small radiators on internal wall .The room was always cool on the opposite side of the room (external wall). My recent foray into wireless thermostat with graphs shows a much quicker heating up to required temperature since changing size and much more comfortable across the whole space by relocating. So despite all the arguments you have to work with your rooms and lifestyle .

  15. Gwen Shannon says:

    My names Gwen ,Shannon is my surname 🙂 happens all the time these days’

  16. Neil Wooding says:

    Hi – we are about to have building work to remove the 6m wall between our kitchen and living room. This will leave a 6m wide by 7m long room with bifolds at the end. We’re losing 2 radiators on the wall to be removed, which are closet to the rear of house / bifolds.

    We’re not sure where to place radiators to provide sufficient/even heating. We calculated about 18-19k BTUs needed for whole Kitchen/Living Room space, which has 3 external brick walls. Would it make sense to:
    1. Put a high output radiator(9k+ BTU) at RAD 2 (ideally a tall Milano Aruba)
    2. Put two smaller/lower output radiators radiators at RAD 1 and RAD 3

    or should we think about different placements altogether?

    https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/a156521db6decc56c47b3e67a2261bda49f40d65d061f386b33008b00fcd16a1.jpg

    https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/23b41c3a6045aefdc0c9cae9b8f407736f5bee0bec791c1477c4f93265d900f6.jpg

    Thanks.

    • Hi Neil, looking at the plans – provided that you are using a Delta 50 calculation for the BTU output of your radiators – the way you have this set out is perfect.

      The description listing of the products on our site shows the Delta 65 output.

      This is the top heat output that the radiators and towel rails can achieve, but the industry standard calculation and the one that you need to focus on is in the additional information tab on the product pages.

      There are lists of Delta 30 and Delta 50 – this is a more accurate representation of what can be achieved by a standard boiler and central heating system. We do specify this on the product pages, but it’s not entirely obvious, so I wanted you to be sure.

      The room is set out great and provided that you purchase radiators with the adequate BTU output at Delta 50, in order to meet your 18-19k needs, you should be golden with where the rads have been placed.

      I hope this helps, and if you have any further questions, please feel free to email me directly on john.lawless@bestheating.com

      Good luck with what looks to be a great project and one that I am pretty jealous of!

      • Neil Wooding says:

        Hi John, a belated thank you for the quick and helpful advice. Much appreciated. Cheers

        • Not a problem at all Neil. All the very best of luck with the project. Feel free to share some pics with us if you like, I’m sure there are many of our blog visitors that would love to see what you’ve achieved – I know I would. Thanks again. John

  17. Tony Beard says:

    Hi – I’ve recently had some building work underta https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/76b7621023b2f29877fbc2d7ca77f7ddacee122807683e634079f991b4555aed.jpg ken and it has resulted in the installation of a vertical feature radiator underneath the main fuse box. The gap between the top of the radiator and the bottom of the fuse box is approx. 15cm. Should I be worried about overheating the fuse box?

    • Hi Tony – it’s not the ideal spot to be honest. But you could easily solve the problem by putting a shelf above the radiator. This should solve any problem and minimise any impact the residual heat from the radiator may have. The other option is to move the radiator, but you should be ok with a shelf above it. I hope this helps. John

  18. sharon says:

    my son has just moved into his first home, new central heating required but he doesn’t want to put the radiator under the window in the lounge, wants one of the new style vertical rads to one side of the window, would this work, would he still get enough heat for the room, there is a gas fire in there also

    • Hi Sharon, It will work for sure. It is very common for people to choose a vertical radiator instead of a horizontal one. And provided that it has a high enough heat output it should adequately heat the space no problem. Just ensure that the space is properly insulated and that the windows are in a sound condition (no gaps or draughts) and he will be fine. Along with the gas fire, I have no doubt that he can create a nice and cosy space. Good luck.

  19. Penny Falzoni says:

    Hi there. I am in the process of doing up my daughter’s bedroom. It’s a large 9′ x12′ room with the radiator on the door wall. The other shorter wall is almost taken up by French doors and a window with a 2′ space in between. The reason I am wondering about moving the radiator is that my daughter is having a high rise bed one end of which will be on the radiator wall. What do you think? Do we need to move the rad. or just keep the bed slightly away fro the wall? or what?
    Thanks, Penny

    • Hi Penny,

      Thanks for getting in touch. I had a very similar problem in my daughters’ bedroom. I had a set of bunk beds and the only way I could get them to work in the space was if I had one end of the bunks almost on top of the radiator. This wasn’t too bad for me as the room was south facing and was quite warm anyway. My only worry was that when the heating was on, the radiator did get very hot and its close proximity to the bed worried me slightly.

      But in terms of heating the space, the short distance between the bed and the rad didn’t really have an impact. As the girls grew and we swapped out the bunks for two single beds, the room didn’t get noticeably warmer because the radiator was more exposed; the ambient temperature stayed pretty much the same.

      In your case, provided that there is ample room for air to circulate around the radiator and back out into the room, you should be fine.

      As the bed is high-rise, I am going to assume that there will be a desk space/cupboard/seating area underneath anyway, so there should be plenty of air being circulated to keep the space warm and cosy.

      However, if it is just a solid piece of wood that is going to be facing the radiator at one end of the bed, I would perhaps reconsider and move it to under the window if you can. That space is already ‘dead’ for furniture anyway and it will probably be the coolest part of the room, so is a natural fit for radiator placement.

      There isn’t really a right or wrong way to do this tbh Penny – it’s really all about how you want the room to work and the logistics of moving a radiator from one side of the room to another.

      What I would say is that radiators can get very very hot and there have been instances in which young children have been burned quite badly by them, so just be sure to consider all possibilities before committing.

      If you really wanted to, you could perhaps opt for a radiator cover and your daughter could then perhaps use that space on top of the radiator for placing some of her favourite toys on, etc, just be sure to take into account that there could be a decrease in the heat output – only marginally – if you do opt for that solution.

      I did a big long piece on rad covers here – http://www.bestheating.com/info/blog/radiator-covers-the-great-home-heating-debate/

      In short, if I was you, to save myself the trouble of moving the radiator and provided it is safe to leave it where it is, the room gets warm enough and you can get the furniture in without too much of an issue, I would probably leave it where it is.

      Like I say, there is no right or wrong answer imho.

      I hope this helps. John

  20. Jerry says:

    Hello John, apologies for asking a blindly amateur and probably quite stupid question here, but what do you think about placing a tall vertical rad in the space behind where the door to the room opens in to? Given our nearly nine year old is not great at closing doors when asked, I’d imagine the rad will always have the opened door in front of it. We are converting part of our garage into an internal den/playroom, including a doorway off our hall. As this will be a den, it is quite small, 3000mm long by 2500mm wide. We’ll need approx. 2650 BTU to heat it really well. The space behind the door is adequate for a vertical rad, and won’t cause any issues for the door opening properly, but I’m more worried about having a less warmed room, eventhough we’ll retain all of the usable wall space. I’d be really grateful for your thoughts. Many thanks!

    • Ahh nearly 9-year-olds, I have one of those myself Jerry and she has a similar condition!

      Great question and thanks for getting in touch.

      As radiators actually work via convection, the door being open will probably create more of a current to move the heat around in that space – which is no bad thing.

      But, as the immortal laws of thermodynamics tell us – hot goes to cold – so a lot will depend upon what is outside of that door.

      As this door is going to be opening from your hallway – provided that your hallway is heated adequately, it shouldn’t make much of a difference.

      However, if your hallway is usually pretty cold it could be an issue as the heat coming from your dens radiator will look to find its way to the cold space.

      I would try to ensure that the new den has as much insulation as possible to give the room the best chance of keeping warm and perhaps consider a hinge on the door that makes it self-closing. It obviously doesn’t have to lock – god forbid I know my daughter would lose it if she got locked in any room – but you can pick up a self-closing hinge for around £15-20 that won’t make the door too difficult to open from the inside and will ensure that it always stays shut to keep the heat in the space.

      I hope this helps some. Let me know if not. And all the very best with the project.

      John

      • Jerry Froggett says:

        Thanks John, I really appreciate you taking the time to reply, and it is a big help! I think a slim rad behind the door opening space will work a treat, and we know where to go to buy one too! All the best to you and your daughter! Jerry

  21. SammyL says:

    https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/a03597382522c6f5e6779762ee909e55480c9098919b7a18d4cef6f3dc127f5c.jpg
    Hello there. Just been reading your blog and the subsequent conversations and it is all very interesting, thank you! We are currently doing up our extension and have been getting conflicting advice from everyone we talk to about how best to heat the room! At present, there is one rad on the wall opposite a big window and that’s it. It is behind the red sofa in the photo. The sofa is staying put so we are intending to replace that horizontal rad with a vertical one at the end of the room near the French doors so the sofa isn’t stopping the heat. But at present one rad is not enough so where should we locate another rad? Our parents say under the window (opposite the sofa) because it’s an outside wall etc but plumber says another vertical on the internal wall on other side of the room would be better. We are going to be putting some low level IKEA storage under the window (where all the furniture is stacked in the photo on the right) but it is shallow enough to not be right up against a rad. What would you recommend – under the window or not? Cheers! Sam

    • Hi SammyL, first up, this looks like a great little project, so good luck with it! ☺️

      Secondly, there isn’t really a wrong answer in this instance, only what best serves you in terms of practicality.

      I take your parents point about the external wall. It’s probably the coldest part of the room and having one radiator there and the vertical on the internal wall would be a good idea.

      But with double glazing and the proper insulation, the need to place radiators on an external wall is much diminished and provided you get two verticals with adequate heat outputs for the space, choosing that option is also going to be ok.

      So, without seeming to sit on the fence, in this instance, it really is personal preference and what will work for you.

      A pair of verticals will make a nice centrepiece/focal point in the room and maximise any available space that you have, and the more traditional ‘under-the-window’ approach – alongside a single vertical on the opposite wall – will ensure that the coldest part of the room doesn’t impact the overall temperature.

      If I had to choose, I would probably go for the plumbers suggestion, but be sure to minimise any draughts from windows and check that you have good insulation.

      I hope this helps, but feel free to come back to me if not. Good luck!

  22. HilaryJ says:

    Hi, I currently have a radiator at the bottom of the stairs (outside wall), would it be better to move the radiator away from the bottom of the stairs on to an internal wall?

    • Hi HilaryJ, there is nothing wrong with where it is right now tbh, provided that you have enough insulation in the space above and the space doesn’t feel too cold. I did a blog on heating a hallway that covers a little about staircases and the difficulty of heating that space properly. But feel free to move it if you think it is going to make a difference. There’s no right or wrong answer in this instance, really. Check this blog to see if it helps – http://www.bestheating.com/info/blog/hallway-heating/ – I hope you find a solution.

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