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How do electric towel rails work?

What makes an electric towel rail tick?

The presence of an electric heated towel rail in a home provides a stylish yet simple means to help keep your towels dry and toasty warm to the touch.

But outside of their obvious purpose, electric towel rails bring with them a plethora of advantages, not least the manner in which they operate and the ease with which they can be installed.

This article will look at how electric heated towel rails work in comparison with standard designs, and the benefits they can bring to your home heating arrangements.

Milano Lustro electric black flat panel designer electric towel rail

How does an electric heated towel rail operate?

The clue is in the moniker with regards to how an electric heated towel rail operates – they are powered by the mains electricity supply and have no reliance whatsoever on a central heating system.

They contrast wholly from standard heated towel rails in this way, as those models connect to the central heating setup in the same way that home radiators do.

But although they work off an electrical supply, electric towel rails do draw heat via a connection to pipework, usually constructed from copper, which hot water flows through.

This is a similar modus operandi to typical heated towel rail styles, as water is again transported through a series of pipes, but with a gas boiler used as the primary water heating source.

How to install an electric towel rail

An electric towel rail installation can be considered to be a ‘bread and butter’ task of a professional electrician’s remit – it is one of the simplest jobs they are likely to complete. That said, the fitting of an electric heated towel rail should not be attempted by us mere mortals.

Given that the component is engaging with the property’s mains electricity supply, it is imperative that a qualified electrician undertakes the work to guarantee a safe installation that lines up with building regulations.

Despite this, as alluded to earlier, an electric towel rail installation generally represents a relatively simple addition to the home that will tend to have little impact on surrounding interior, fixtures or fittings.

As such, electric heated towel rails are often seen as an excellent option for areas such as kitchens, bathrooms, en-suites or small bedrooms as a supplementary heat source in homes where a central heating system is prevalent. They provide the advantages of a stylish diminutive heating appliance without causing disruption to any structural elements of the home like walls or flooring for the fitting of fresh pipework.

Milano Arno electric chrome bar on bar electric heated towel rail

How to heat an electric towel rail

Considering that electric towel rails don’t incorporate hot water coursing through their profile, it is reasonable to wonder just how they actually heat up.

The entirety of BestHeating’s electric towel rail collection feature an electric heating element to enable their operation, and there are two main versions of these…

Firstly, there’s single heating elements, which are non-thermostatic models that allow electric heated towel rails to stay at a fixed permanent temperature when turned on.

The other type is a variable heating element, which does feature thermostatic properties, and enables the user to adjust their towel rail temperature after it is switched on.

As well as these heating elements, each electric towel rail contains a combination of anti-corrosion inhibitor, which accounts for about 15%, and water, which takes up the remaining 85% or so. When turned on, the electric towel rail’s heating element warms up via the mains electricity supply, in turn warming up the fluid within the rail to distribute heat around the space.

What features do modern electric towel rails have?

Aside from their simple installation process and clear primary functionality, many electric towel rail models incorporate a range of modern features that make them stand out from alternative heating appliances.

There’s the potential to control electric heated towel rails remotely, via an app on a smartphone or device, or through a nearby wall panel, and this can work in cohesion with the daily programming capabilities of some models. 24/7 programmable electric towel rails enable users to choose a specific time for the appliances to heat up each day of the week.

Several electric heated towel rails also incorporate open window detectors, so they can sense sudden fluctuations in room temperature, and adjust the level of heating accordingly when the temperature re-stabilises.

Meanwhile, you can calculate rough heated towel rail running costs based on figures listed in the government’s Energy Price Guarantee.

A heating power-up or ‘boost’ operation is another handy inclusion on an especially cold day, or just for the quick warming of towels or any clothes you might need on the hoof. Also, an anti-frost mode is a notable feature of a number of contemporary electric towel rails too, working via a frost sensor that turns the rail on automatically and leaves it ticking over when outside temperatures drop below zero.

Milano Lustro dual fuel designer black flat panel heated towel rail

Frequently Asked Questions

A relatively simple equation can be used to work out electric heated towel rail running costs, with the same formula able to be used for practically any electrical appliance.

The equation to use is as follows…

Watts / 1000 = Kw X Hours in Operation = kW x kWh rate = Cost

An electric towel rail’s wattage will typically be displayed on the device, and is noted in the product descriptions on BestHeating.com.

As of April 2023, the kWh rate can be worked out off a standard UK electricity tariff value of 33.2p/ kWh according to the UK government’s Energy Price Guarantee.

For further information, take a look at our blog, Is a heated towel rail expensive to run?

Electric towel rails heat up through an electric heating element, with both single non-thermostatic versions and variable thermostatic components available. The former type enables electric heated towel rails to remain at a constant temperature when switched on, whilst the latter allows users to adjust towel rail temperature when turned on.

The incorporated heating elements are activated via a mains electricity supply, with zero reliance on a central heating system.

To find out more, explore our dedicated blog, How do electric towel rails work?

You should never attempt to install an electric towel rail by yourself, as the appliance connects to the mains electricity supply.

That said, it is essential that the services of  a qualified electrician are enlisted to ensure a safe fitting that adheres to building regulations.

For a more detailed insight, take a look at our blog, How do electric towel rails work?

Shop electric towel rails with BestHeating

Now you know about the ins and outs of electric towel rails, including how they work and the advantages they provide as a home heating option, you can explore an excellent range of products at BestHeating.com.

Our expansive electric heating collection features a stunning array of electric towel rails as well as electric radiators and other options like electric underfloor heating.

Shop online with us today, or get in touch with us with any comments or questions you might have surrounding electric heating styles or any other home heating topics. You can leave your thoughts in the comments section below, or contact us via Instagram, Facebook or Twitter.

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