Tuesday, 9 August 2011

What differentiates towel rails and radiators?

A customer asked me the other day, “What’s the difference between these towel rails as one is much more expensive than the other?” So I answered the question, justifying the price difference and realised that this is a common enquiry and something worth addressing properly.

Heated towel rails or radiators for bathrooms are now considered the norm in the UK. Almost all new properties now include a ladder style radiator and the market has rapidly become flooded with options, with huge variation in quality and, consequently, price.

However, opting for the “cheapest” option for heating is rarely a worthwhile investment in the long term and customers usually find that they get what they pay for.

So how do towel radiators vary? What differences should you be looking out for?
Below we have detailed the various points to consider when purchasing towel radiators, helping you avoid the old saying: “buy cheap, buy twice”.


· Guarantee period – A relatively short guarantee period may indicate poor quality welding or chroming. You should be looking for a radiator with a minimum guarantee period of 5 years for central heating models.
· Independent testing - Are the radiators tested to EN442, the official European Standard? This certificate guarantees that a radiator meets the minimum standards on various aspects including heat output, material thickness, pressure testing, paint quality, product labelling and safety.
· Heat output - Has an independent laboratory tested the heat output of the radiator? A BSRIA (Building Services Research and Information Association) certificate or similar will confirm that the heat output stated has been confirmed by an independent expert.
· Awards and accreditations – Independent recognition helps to ensure that the radiator is of a good quality and practical design.


· Sizes available – Mass production can help keep costs down on towel radiators, however this often means there is a limited range of sizes available. For instance, you may not have the option of 300mm wide towel rails that maybe perfect for use in your downstairs cloakroom or loo.
· Position of brackets – Rails may include brackets that don’t maximise the space for holding towels as much as they could. Consider going for towel radiators with the brackets located at the edges as this leaves the full width of the radiator free on which to hang towels.
· Position of bars - Closely spaced bars maximise the heat output of a towel rail but are not a feature on cheap rails as they are more difficult to manufacture, especially in chromed versions. For this reason, a high quality chrome rail may often offer a better heat output than a cheaper chrome towel rail in an equivalent size.


· Grades of chrome – Chrome towel rails are still a popular choice, and the quality of chrome varies hugely between models. A luxurious, thick application of chrome adds to the look and the durability of a product. It is recommended that radiators must have at least level “SC2” chrome to ensure that they are suitable for use in spaces with condensation such as bathrooms.
· Consider stainless steel - Recent trends have led to an increase in stainless steel radiator options. This inert metal offers various benefits as due to it’s non-corrosive properties; for instance, it has a long life expectancy meaning guarantees are often 20 or 25 years and it does not have to be used in conjunction with corrosion inhibitor. Stainless steel towel rails also offer better heat outputs than similar models in chrome, as it is bare metal finish as opposed to a coated metal finish. Polished stainless steel offers a finish that is virtually identical to chrome, and stainless steel is also available in a brushed finish giving an alternative matt effect.


Always bear in mind the service provided when you purchase heating for your bathroom. Follow the guide below to ensure you get the best service possible and minimise the chance of encountering problems.

· Choose a reputable supplier. Look for reviews or feedback online, or ask friends and family whom they used when buying a towel radiator.
· Look for awards and accreditations. Independent recognition of the supplier will help back-up their reputation, and will indicate that they have a brand they care about and wish to protect.
· Use a radiator specialist. Even bathroom retailers may have limited knowledge on heating. By using a true specialist, you can get any technical and installation questions answered quickly and accurately.
· Ask how long they have been selling radiators for. Although the towel radiator industry is relatively young, a reputable supplier should have a number of years of successful trading behind them.
· Avoid online only sellers and “Add to basket” shopping. If a radiator or towel rail is chosen without expert advice, it can often lead to the wrong products being ordered, causing problems for all parties involved.
· Find out if they have a showroom. High quality premises can indicate a long-term outlook for the business. If you can’t visit their premises “in the flesh”, then why not look at their showroom online?
· Ask about after-sales service. For instance, does the supplier have technical specialists and a helpline? Some retailers have been known to fob off customers with the phone number of the warehouse, when they report a faulty product.

It’s clear from the above that choosing a heated towel rail or radiator for your bathroom may not be the most straightforward decision, but by following the guidance detailed above, your towel radiator won’t be a false economy.

For more information on buying good quality, durable heated towel rails and radiators with a high end finish, then speak to a specialist such as Feature Radiators. Their expert team will help you to choose the best radiator for your situation, so contact them on 01274 567789, visit them at their showroom in Bingley, West Yorkshire or see http://www.featureradiators.co.uk

Helena Gerwitz, EzineArticles Basic PLUS Author

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