In this article the focus is on radiator style selection, and on choosing the most applicable type for each application, from the simple functional compact units to the more designer-led solutions. In many ways it boils down to a compromise of budget over expectation. However, it is important to never lose sight of the potential to “up spec” the project.
There are benefits to all parties in this process. The project can be given a more contemporary feel by clever use of some feature radiators in key rooms. This can improve the overall appreciation of the heating system by the client, and can also improve the margin potential for the installer.
So, why would you use one radiator over another for a given project? Close attention to detail will interpret your client’s requirements from a budget and aesthetic consideration. You must then couple this with the practicality of the selected radiator to the application or location constraints.
For those working to a budget, the modern compact radiator provides excellent performance, at an affordable price. The “packaged” profile of side covers and top grille also provide a neat and uniform overall appearance throughout.
For applications where a more subtle approach is preferred, the horizontal tubular radiator is a good solution. These can be full tubular design or the “mock” style units. An advantage of the “mock” units is that they can offer a potential saving over the traditional tubular models.
Where space constraints are the deciding factor, vertical radiators can be ideal. In addition to providing heat, they can also be utilised as a design feature within the room to complement the rest of the décor.
Some clients might even want to take the selection to the next level and utilise the next generation feature radiators. These are not to all tastes, or suitable for all projects, but they do illustrate the level to which radiator manufacturers are prepared to go to deliver a solution to suit all tastes and requirements.
We tend to have traditional views on radiator locations. We don’t always have the wall space, for various reasons, to permit the use of a conventional radiator. Many modern domestic houses feature extensive floor to ceiling glazing. For these applications it is a good idea to use trench heaters. These come in various forms, natural draft, 220v or 24v motorised options.
These heaters utilise finned element copper tubes and are frequently referred to as low-water-content radiators. This technology is evolving into the LST (Low Surface Temperature) sector where it is enclosed within a steel casing.
Virtually all bathrooms now feature towel radiators as standard and, while the ladder style is very popular, more classical options are now freely available. It is important to ensure that they offer adequate output and particular care should be taken when using chrome-plated units. Where this output becomes an issue, an electric underfloor heating mat can support the heat input and offer that extra feel of a luxurious warm floor.
As the foregoing clearly illustrates, radiator manufacturers offer a myriad of design styles to suit all tastes and applications, and are to be congratulated for doing so. However, to end where I came in, whatever radiator is selected it must meet its performance criteria and be performance certified to ENN442. Its heat output must be matched to the heat source performance and temperature.
Be cautious of special offers that are vague on output temperatures and certification. ■
*Frank Donohoe is widely known and respected throughout the radiator sector where he has over 30 years experience with the leading market players. He is now the owner of Donohoe Heating Services, a company formed to support and advise architects, engineers, contractors and end users in the correct sizing and selection of heating systems for domestic applications. t: 01 – 846 0586; m: 086 257 6854; e: donohoeheatingservices @eircom.net