How to Choose the Best Bathroom Radiator for You

Close up product image of Lazzarini Pieve Anthracite Towel Radiator
Published: 9th December 2020
Author: James Roberts

No one likes stepping out of a warm bath or shower into a freezing cold room, which makes a radiator an essential part of any bathroom.

Of course, it is not just the small luxury of wrapping yourself up in a warm towel that makes them a necessity. As well as keeping your bathroom comfortable during the winter, radiators can also help prevent damp throughout the year.

Our guide will take you through the things you need to consider when choosing a radiator for your bathroom, from picking the right size and placement, to the latest trends and styles for both modern and traditional bathrooms.

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Different Types of Bathroom Radiator

There are three major types of bathroom radiators, so it is important to be aware of the differences and how your bathroom plumbing can determine the right radiator or heated towel rail for you.


A standard bathroom radiator will be plumbed into an existing central heating system with a separate pair of radiator valves. This means it will work like any other radiator in your house, but also means it might be limited during the spring and summer months, when your central heating might not be in use at all


Product Lifestyle image of Lazzarini E-Palermo Electric Anthracite Towel Radiator and Digital Thermostat

Electric radiators are suitable for smaller spaces and rooms, such as apartments, flats and cloakroom or smaller bathrooms, where it can be more difficult to plumb your radiator into the central heating system but also requires less output to heat. Items like electric towel rails can operate in the same way as their central heating siblings, with the exception of being wired into the mains and filled with liquid such as oil to heat up, as long as they are installed properly by a qualified electrician. As they are electric, they can be operated 24/7 across an entire year, offering a major advantage over those using a central heating system, keeping warm towels on hand readily available when you need them.

Dual Fuel

Dual Fuel towel rails and radiators feature both central heating and electric outputs, suitable for use all year round, switching between your central heating system during the winter months and the electric output as and when required throughout spring and summer.

What To Consider When Installing a Bathroom Radiator

Product Lifestyle image of The Sussex Range by JIS Lindfield Heated Ladder Rail

Installing a bathroom radiator will depend on a few factors, from the size of the radiator or heated towel rail itself to the location of your existing pipework.

It is also important to consider the placement of your towel rail or radiator before you actually start decorating, as you can reduce the amount of time spent doing this work since it will not be an easily-seen location.

If you are simply replacing an older radiator, take the pipe centre measurements (the distance between the current inlets) and compare them to your new bathroom radiator, which should make for a trouble-free swap. Otherwise, be aware of the placement, which might require extending your existing pipework or plumbing.

Heated Towel Rails are a bit more straightforward, able to be wired directly into the mains, but it is important to install it on the coldest wall in your bathroom, ensuring the heat is distributed effectively. This is usually the external wall of your bathroom, facing outside, but also consider the placement in relation to your bath or shower. No one likes walking into a cold bathroom.

Calculating British Thermal Units (BTU)

BTU can be an intimidating acronym, but it is fairly simple to understand. It stands for British Thermal Unit and essentially, the higher the BTUs on your bathroom radiator, the more heat it outputs.

Different factors including the size of your bathroom, any windows and the placement of your radiator also determine this. Another general rule is that if the BTU is under 1000, bear in mind it might only be useful for heating towels, rather than an entire bathroom.

You can refer to various BTU calculators which will help you determine this requirement for your bathroom. This can be used alongside the measurements we provide on our product listings, helping you choose the perfect bathroom radiator for your space.

Do You Need a Bathroom Radiator or a Heated Towel Rail?

Product Lifestyle image of Eastbrook Twyver Chrome and White Traditional Radiator

Now that you have decided on where to place your radiator and how much heat you comfortably need in your bathroom, it is time to narrow it down even further.

Be aware that while heated towel rails are mostly designed to keep your towels warm and dry, they might be powerful enough to heat a smaller en-suite or cloakroom bathroom. Combining stylish, trend setting designs with practical storage, they can be a versatile addition to your bathroom.

Standard radiators will obviously keep your towels dry, but are mainly designed to heat your entire bathroom. Standard bathroom radiators obviously heat a larger space, but they could also be considered as more of a fixture for your bathroom, with many designer radiators available.

Different Styles of Bathroom Radiators

Our website features a wide range of bathroom radiator ideas that will suit any style of bathroom. But here are some of the major differences to consider when looking for either a contemporary or traditional bathroom radiator.

Contemporary Bathroom Radiators

Product Lifestyle image of Lazzarini Pieve Anthracite Towel Radiator

Modern bathroom radiators and towel rails feature ultra-contemporary designs in a range of stylish finishes. Many are available in large column designs, but also feature compact, minimalist designs that will suit any modern bathroom.

Designer radiators also feature original designs without compromising on the heat output. Usually available in a wide range of finishes, they could be the perfect addition for any modern bathroom, as much of a stylish choice as they are a practical addition to your bathroom.

They also feature ladder designs, incorporating heated towel rail sensibilities without the BTU limitations. They are also available in horizontal or wall mounted designs, making them a versatile addition to any bathroom space.

Traditional Bathroom Radiators

Close up product lifestyle image of Radox Edwardian Chrome Radiator

Many traditional bathroom radiators feature exposed pipework with column style designs. They mostly favour a timeless, Victorian look, available in a smaller range of conductive finishes that aid their heat output, such as black or white, though modern sensibilities mean this is mostly an aesthetic choice. Therefore, there is no need to feel restricted when choosing a finish for your traditional bathroom radiator. Some traditional bathroom radiators also feature contemporary electric heating or dual fuel systems, meaning they will suit a range of spaces.

Radiator Valves

Product Cut out image of two radiator valves

The perfect finishing touch, radiator valves are usually available in complementary finishes to suit their respective range and manufacturer, allowing you control the heat output as you would on a typical radiator.

Depending on how the pipes are positioned, you will need angled, straight or corner radiator valves. Angled valves are suited for pipework that comes out of your bathroom floor, while straight valves are perfect for wall mounted pipework. Corner radiator valves feature a 90-degree angle and are also suited for wall mounted bathroom radiators, useful for hiding unsightly pipework and also creating a flush finish in your bathroom.

Then there is the choice between Thermostatic and Manual radiator valves. Thermostatic are the most common with modern bathroom radiators, usually denoting a temperature setting that does not require constant intervention.

Manual radiator valves feature a design that must be determined by the user. Having to remember to turn them on and off can be an off-putting factor when shopping around. This is usually due to the two extremes of either leaving them on too long, wasting energy and creating a sweltering bathroom, or forgetting to turn them on and walking into a freezing cold bathroom. However, they can potentially help save energy in the long run if they are monitored and used as they should be.

Shop Your Bathroom Radiator

Now that we have shown you the ins and outs of bathroom radiators and heated towel rails, it is time to browse our wide range of both modern and traditional designs and start making your dream bathroom come true, with our team of bathroom experts ready to help you if you have any further questions.