Begginer's Guide: Know the radiators you need before you shop

Radiators are an item which your home cannot do without and it is better if, apart from utility, they align with its style and atmosphere. In order to know which radiators will prove the best fit, you have to familiarise with – or update yourself about – the present product range. Presently, radiators vary by material, number of panels and type of technology involved. However, before you can start choosing based on aesthetics you need to ensure you understand the more technical aspects of choosing a radiator.

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BTU Calculator: The way of measuring a radiator’s efficiency

Radiator efficiency measures the British thermal units (BTU) that you need to heat a room. It depends on its dimensions, number and area of the windows and the degree of heating in the rooms next door, up and below. It is best if you have these figures beforehand to ensure that you buy the optimum products.

Types of radiator

Column radiators

While the BTU requirement might predicate your choice of a single or double panel radiator, the latter being almost twice as powerful, style concerns will be first and foremost when choosing the type that best fits your atmosphere.If your house follows a traditional style, then there is little doubt that you can safely choose a column radiator knowing that it will fit in with the style of your home.

Convector radiators

Modern designs, such as convector radiators, will inevitably fit in with decor that is more contemporary or minimalist.Additionally, because their less curvy shape, they are easier to clean (which will come as welcome news to many!).

Towel radiators

Towel rails are the natural solution for bathrooms and toilets. You could also consider them for closets where a vertical solution would save you space.

Radiator finishes

The finish of a radiator can really help when fitting it into the style of your room. Additionally, in recent years, many finishes have come to be more eye catching in order to create a focal point of a room. Here’s a brief summary of the finishes available, and what type of decor they would complement.


Chrome or metal finish radiators are quickly becoming the most popular form of radiator in the modern home. These radiators are often considered the most aesthetically pleasing and are offered in a wide array of tones, from shiny black metals to brushed silver.


Painted radiators can either offer a finish that stands out, or one that blends the radiator into the background. In more traditionally designed homes radiators that blend in are far more suitable, whereas in modern homes a bold radiator in a contrasting colour can make for a point of interest.

Mock iron/black

Mock iron or black radiators are popular in Victorian period homes and can provide a happy medium between a modern radiator and one that will be sympathetic to your home.

Radiator accessories

Delving further into radiators' utility and aesthetics, there are accessories which will help you enhance either of these functions. Radiator insulation ensures that all outbound heat bounces back to the room after being reflected into the insulation's reflector foil. Radiator cabinets, in turn, can help you disguise their presence and at the same time add ornamentation that fits well with the style of the room.

Latest Feedback
What would cause downstairs radiators not to heat up when upstairs do? Have tried bleeding them to draw the water through but it doesnt work. Any ideas?

Alex O., London
My radiators downstairs are fine, they are hot at the top and the bottom but all my radiators upstairs, the bottom is hot but the tops of them is just luke warm. Why is this?

Dory S., Cambridge
What do I need to do to change from panel to convector radiators?

Jason J., Brighton
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