What to know when buying new radiators

Radiator shopping isn’t something people tend to do quite often. It’s the kind of shopping activity that happens once every ten years, as long as you have a good radiator to begin with (If you have to buy new radiators after five years, then you don’t have good radiators to begin with).

When finding the ideal new radiator, you may feel somewhat overwhelmed with all the different designs, features and accessories you need for what should be a simple thing. After all, a radiator is just something you hang on the wall and let warm up from time to time.

So what should someone avoid when shopping for a new radiator? Here are some of my top tips on what to know when buying radiators.

Know your measurements

When I talk about measurements, know that I am not referring to the length or height of the radiator. There is one overlooked measurement that can be the difference between a radiator slotting into place perfectly, and you need to call a plumber to move and refit pipes.

It is called the pipe centre. If you have pipes coming out of the floor or wall that have to connect to the radiator, you’ll only be able to get a radiator which matches that pipe centre. You measure your pipe centres by checking what the distance is between the two pipes. Some people get confused by the “centre” and think you have to half the measurement like figuring out diameter and radius, but this isn’t the case.

Any good radiator store or site will always list the pipe centre in the product specs, so work off that first to find a good radiator.

Know your shapes

Radiators come in all shapes and sizes, and you may easily confuse yourself trying to distinguish between column, convector, flat panel, single and double panel, and curved rails.

In most homes, the basic rectangular radiator is a simple horizontal radiator, where the radiator is always longer than it is taller. You’ll find that this is a world onto itself, with everything from budget options all the way to horizontal designer radiators (which can you see here) on offer from most stores. If the radiator is one solid panel, you have a convector radiator. If it’s a horizontal radiator with gaps along the front, you’re looking at a column radiator. However, things can get confusing if the column refers to the gaps in the width of the radiator, and not going across the front panel.

You’ll be surprised just how many shapes there are, so do some research first before you go shopping, so you’re clued in on what to look at.

Know your colours

I’m not trying to equate a radiator with fine art but think of any radiator you hang in a room as a block of colour against the wall. Choose the wrong colour, and things won’t look quite right. White would be the most common radiator colour, but there are dozens out there to choose from; even hundreds if you’re buying from a supplier which provides custom paint jobs.

The most popular radiator colours to know of include:

  • Anthracite
  • Black
  • Chrome
  • Copper
  • Nickel
  • Satin
  • Polished

They all have slightly differing looks on a radiator, especially when you’re comparing Satin & Polished radiators side by side. Get to know what colours suit what shapes best, and take into account where a radiator will be situated before you choose a colour.

Know your valves

Think of radiator valves like a door handle. Hot water won’t be able to get in and out, and at the right level unless you have a good handle on the door. It is common for radiators to originally be installed with small manual valves, which have a cap reminiscent of the thimble. They offer basic control and work best if you don’t mind how hot a radiator can get.

I always vouch for thermostatic valves. They are the ones with a large-cap on top which has a capsule inside. When you set the set to a certain temperature, the capsule acts as a thermometer and gets a sense of how warm the room (not the radiator) is. When it thinks the room is at the desired temperature, the capsule expands and closes the valve, so no more water gets in. Not only does this keep rooms where you want them, it always saves energy.

Thanks for reading this article. Hopefully, you now know some of the easy mistakes to avoid when buying radiators.

About Shahbaz Ahmed

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