Types of Central Heating Radiators: How To Choose Your Perfect Radiator

The market is full of many designs and types of central heating radiators, making getting the right one difficult.

Unlike in ancient times when the most significant factor when choosing a radiator was build material—cast iron or steel, today we talk of radiator designs, heating requirements, style preference, size, and other build materials available for your choosing.

Besides improving your home’s heating efficiency, getting a suitable type of radiator will also upgrade the look of your home’s interior.

In this article, we’ll explore in detail the types of central heating radiators you’ll find on the market today, how to shop for the perfect style and the best radiator material, plus why the build material is an important consideration.

Types of Central Heating Radiators

Here are the types of central heating radiators you’re likely going to come across in your search for the perfect radiator.

Panel Radiators

Panel radiators are available in two types—single and double panel radiators.

  • Single panel: Tends to be thinner than the double panel radiators. Although still called single, you can split it into several columns for use on more surfaces. Single panel radiators are generally slimmer than their double panel counterparts.
  • Double panel: Two single panels are stacked together to form a double panel radiator. As a result, they produce twice the heating power of a single panel radiator.
Double panel

Double Panel: Drench

Panel radiators come with rounded covers with a simple and elegant design. They are also available in many colours, and you can use them in any room as long as the size is right.

Designer Radiators

Designer radiators come in unique and exciting styles that will add some charm to your interior décor.

From the space-saving technology to other dual-purpose inclusions that will also double up as a memo board or mirror, a designer radiator can be a focal point of attention when positioned strategically in a room.

A designer radiator is a masterpiece whose purpose is more than just heating your room and lending your room a modern, stylish and attractive look and feel. You may discuss it with your interior designer to include it in the home interior décor plan.

Towel Radiator

Towel rails and ladders are today designed to offer more than just drying towels in your bathroom. They’ll also heat a small bathroom during cold climates. They are less powerful but easy to run.

Their primary purpose is to warm and keep your towels fluffy, besides drying them up.

Towel radiators also come in multiple designs, finishes, shapes, and sizes, such as height and widths suited for different layouts. For instance, ladder rails offer you more space to dry many towels at the same time.

Flat Panel Radiator

Flat-panel radiators work similarly to panel radiators. The major difference is the top design. Flat-panel radiators take little space and are more design-focused with a standard horizontal design and other unique shapes.

Just as designer radiators, flat panels are great additions as part of any homes’ interior plan. They are visually appealing and with a trendy modern look. In addition, the sleek and compact design makes them a good fit for most spaces.

Convector Radiator

A convector radiator is an advanced version of panel radiators. They have metal convector pins welded at the back of the outer panel to increase the surface area for a more enhanced heat transfer. They are more powerful than panel radiators.

However, convector radiators tend to take up more space as they stick out of the wall than flatter models.

Dual Fuel Radiator

Column Radiator

A dual fuel radiator has a thermostatic heating element inserted into it to give it a dual fuel set-up. The heating element enables you to heat a plumbed radiator with electricity.

The major advantage of a double fuel radiator is the ability to independently heat one, for example, a towel rail with less energy.

Dual fuel radiators offer more control and flexibility than towel rails and standard radiators. In addition, they’ll continue working even after turning off the central heating system.

Column Radiator

A column radiator has a row of tubes arranged from top to bottom to form one section. They have a stylish traditional feel and make an excellent choice for a contemporary property by adding that retro feels to your home.

Column radiators come in multiple finishing and colouring options, so you won’t miss what works for you.

How To Choose the Perfect Radiator

Like we mentioned earlier, choosing a radiator today goes beyond its construction material.

Here are more features to pay attention to when buying a radiator for your home.


British Thermal Unit (BTU) is a measure of thermal heat output by your radiator. It’s the primary defining factor of radiator power.

A bigger radiator does not always translate to more energy- a higher BTU count does. A radiator with higher  BTU is, thus, more powerful and will heat a more expansive space.

You may need to first calculate your room BTU requirements before purchasing. That way, you get a radiator with a heat output that corresponds with your room size.

Contact a heating engineer or a certified plumber to help you identify the accurate BTU for each room size.

Design and Available Space

Radiators come in many different sizes, which is why you’ll not lack what fits in your available space. Here’s a guide on radiator types that suit other room-by-room home requirements.

  • Kitchen: At one point, your kitchen will experience boiling temperatures and very cold at other times.  As a result, you may need to get a pair of radiator valves to regulate the temperatures as required.

Getting a towel radiator for drying your towels is also a good idea.

  • Dining Room/Main Room: You spend most of the time in the living room; thus, you need to give it a proper thought. Probably the most expansive section of your house, you may need to get a radiator with a higher BTU to heat the entire space.

It is also the best place to use a stylish radiator type, such as a designer radiator, for a showy display.

Design and Available Space

  • Bedroom: A cold bedroom can be a turn-off, especially when bringing in a special guest. Get a horizontal radiator with a proper BTU and forever smile in the face of winter.
  • Bathroom: An outright radiator choice for your bathroom is a towel radiator. A ladder style is the best as it offers enough space to dry multiple towels at once. However, you may go for a designer radiator for a more stylish bathroom.
  • Hallway: Horizontal radiators are the perfect choice for corridors, joining spaces, and hallways. They suit such spaces better besides making your room look larger.

Finish Preference

Modern radiators offer different finish designs to compliment unique interior decors. White radiators are the most popular since they blend nicely with most home interiors.

However, modern designs also provide various conservative and adventurous designs to choose from to suit your preference.

Black is also an excellent choice if you’re looking to add some traditional taste to your home interior. It also complements most colour schemes. However, for an elegant modern look, a steel radiator or sleek chrome is your best companion.


A valve is an essential part of a radiator that regulates the amount of hot water entering and leaving the radiator.  Controlling the water flow ensures that the amount of heat generated is also regulated. Valves are always sold as a pair.

Note that most radiators do not come with valves, and therefore, for every single radiator you buy, you’ll also need to buy a pair of valves.


Radiators with higher BTUs are the most powerful and tend to cost more. However, other factors such as material and design may also determine the price of a radiator.

There are luxury brands that cost more, but you’ll also find affordable alternatives if you’re on a budget. Radiators are durable and may take time before replacement. It all depends on how much you’re willing to spend on a radiator.

Build Material

Cast iron and steel are the oldest construction materials in the history of radiators. Today, radiators are made using multiple materials, including aluminium, cast iron, stainless steel, and mild steel.

Each material offers different performance levels, such as the ability to retain heat after turning off. They also differ in price, service life, and design. For instance, cast iron is found in most traditional radiators, and mild steel is more budget-friendly.

Best Radiator Material

There are four major types of conductive materials used in radiators– aluminium, iron, stainless steel, and mild steel. A radiator build material will determine how fast it can heat up and cool down.

While your choice might boil down to your unique requirements and circumstances, aluminium is technically the best material for a radiator.

Here is a breakdown of each material when used in a radiator.

Cast Iron

Cast Iron

Cast iron is an ancient material used in traditional radiators. It carries a nostalgic feel not found in modern radiators. However, cast iron is still prevalent today and works slightly differently from other radiator build materials.

A cast iron radiator will take some time to heat, but once it reaches its maximum heating temperature, it will also take longer to cool even after turning the system off.

A cast iron radiator may serve you a lifetime, plus they are affordable to run since they hold enough heat for long after switching off.

However, the heavy build makes them very costly to install.


Aluminium is the most prominent material used in modern radiators, and for a good reason. The material is a superconductor producing more heat quicker than any other available option.

Aluminium’s BTU output is 2-3 times higher when lined up against cast iron, stainless steel, and mild steel. As a result, you’ll heat a larger space with just a single aluminium radiator. The material is also rust-resistant, ensuring you a longer service life.

Aluminiums’ fast response time makes them environment-friendly as it heats up and cools down quickly, hence regulating room temperatures more efficiently.

Aluminium has low water content and will therefore require very little water from the boiler. As a result, aluminium will take a shorter time to reach maximum heating temperature, which reduces the amount of heat lost.

Additionally, aluminium is lightweight, making it easy to install, hence also reducing installation costs. The material is suitable for hanging installation and can be recycled at the end of the life cycle.

Mild Steel

Mild steel is gaining popularity among radiators as the most affordable and easy to mould in many weird shapes. Mild steel is also available in different colours and is the most versatile in terms of design. For those on a budget, mild steel is the best option.

However, one major downside to mild steel is its susceptibility to rust; thus, they come with shorter guarantees. You may need to carry regular servicing or add an inhibitor to prolong your radiator service life.

Stainless Steel

Stainless Steel

Stainless are good conductors, durable, and retain heat for a more extended period even after the radiator is turned off. Most luxury brands use stainless steel premium metal, which is also corrosion-resistant, saving you from regular maintenance.

Stainless steel is a worthy long-term investment and tends to cost more than mild steel construction—you’ll enjoy an extended guarantee period of between 20-25 years from most brands.

However, stainless steel construction does not mean that it will not rust. Wipe it often if you use it to hang wet towels in the kitchen or if you use it in a damp bathroom environment. You may need to top it with a radiator inhibitor to be safe.


Central heating radiators are the latest craze for keeping homes warm in cold climates. The evolution in the world of radiators has seen diversity in what type and design you can choose depending on your unique requirements.

While the design and style are important factors you want to include in your interior plans, experts advise that you pay close attention to the build material since the radiator construction material is the defining factor of your home heating efficiency.


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