Are designer radiators efficient?

A designer anthracite horizontal radiator on the wall in a stylish living room.


If you're thinking of upgrading your old, standard radiators and replacing them with something designer and exciting, then you're definitely not alone. Designer radiators have become more and more stylish in recent years and there's now a massive range of styles and sizes for you to choose from.


Whereas once the only choice of radiator were white, horizontal convector ones, these days people are much more choosy and want a radiator that is a focal point and matches the rest of their interior. With the proliferation of funky designs to choose from, getting a radiator that looks great is now incredibly easy. Once question that often gets overlooked however, is whether or not they are more efficient than their standard counterparts.


Design-dependent efficiency


When it comes to choosing a designer radiator, you'll quickly find that there is a lot of choice, so it's important to understand the different factors that will improve or reduce the efficiency of one designer radiator over another.




The shape of a designer radiator can help to establish whether or not it is any good at emitting heat. As a rule of thumb, the greater the surface area on a radiator, the higher its heat output will be. For example, a designer panel radiator measuring 600x 400mm will emit more heat than a designer heated towel rail of similar dimensions. The radiator simply has a greater surface area with which to put out heat.


Similarly, you might find that a horizontal designer radiator is slightly more efficient than a vertical one. The reason being that a horizontal rad has a greater width to draw up cold air for convection when compared to a narrower vertical rad. However, if you have limited wall space, the fact you get comfortably install a vertical radiator will likely outweigh this small difference in efficiency.




Designer radiators come in pretty much any colour you like. Radiator manufacturers are very aware that people want a choice when it comes to matching up their radiators to their fixtures and fittings, accessories, furniture or interior design plan. For that reason, your main focus should be on what looks best in your home as well as finding something that heats your room comfortably.


That being said, the colour of your radiator can make a small difference to efficiency. The reason standard radiators are white is because white is the best reflector of light and heat. This means that more heat will be emitted into the room when compared with a black, anthracite or chrome radiator.


However, as long as you use a heating calculator and ensure your radiator emits enough heat for the room, the colour won't really affect how well your room is heated up.




Not all radiator materials are created equal and the type of metal your radiator is manufactured from can have an impact on how efficient it is.


Most radiators are made from mild steel, which is not the worst conductor of heat though neither is it the best. Mild steel works pretty well for emitting heat around a room and is used as a radiator material because of it being such a good all rounder. It's pretty good at heating rooms, it's quite cheap to manufacture and it's fairly easy to bend into shape. Mild steel designer radiators are therefore a very efficient and affordable option for the consumer.


However, if you did want to squeeze out some extra efficiency from your  radiator then you could go for one made of aluminium. Aluminium is an excellent conductor of heat, which means your aluminium radiators will get up to their optimum temperature very quickly, using less gas and water to get there when compared to mild steel rads.


The trade off for the lower monthly bills is that aluminium radiators are initially more expensive, requiring a higher upfront cost than radiators made from other materials.


In conclusion


When purchasing a radiator, of any style or material, check the product information to ensure that the radiator is capable of emitting enough heat (BTUs) to heat your room comfortably. As long as you select a radiator that is warm enough for the room it's installed in, you can relax and get the colour, shape and finish of your choice. If it looks good and heats your room efficiently, you'll have a designer radiator that gives you pleasure and warmth for years to come!



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