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Adige Blog

How to Install a Towel Radiator as Electric Use Only ?

Most properties in the UK have central heating systems in place and more and more home owners are replacing their standard panel radiators in their bathrooms with towel radiators. If you already have a central heating in place and have an existing radiator in your bathroom, it is quite a straight forward job to replace these radiators with a brand new shiny, polished and an eye catching towel radiator.


But what if you live in a flat? What if your property does not have gas supply? What if you do not have a central heating system in you home? Why do you have to stick with a fan assisted, noisy and most of all, not very functional and efficient electric heaters? Well you don’t! You can easily convert a towel radiator to an “Electric Only Towel Radiator” or as we call it, “Electric Use Only”.


Most towel radiators and heated towel rails are originally designed and manufactured to be part of a central heating system. However, most of them can be converted to electric use too. To do so, instead of buying a pair of valves, you will simply need to purchase an electric heating element and a blanking plug. Installation of those is also quite straight forward. In fact, it is probably easier as there is no pipe work involved.


So how do you convert a towel radiator to an electric use only?

Assuming you have the following parts and the required tools,

  1. First, you will need to insert the electric element into the radiator from one of the bottom entry points. This can be either the left or the right side but the usual practice is to insert and install it to the right hand side of the radiator as you look at it.
  1. You will then insert and screw the blanking plug into the other entry point at the bottom of the radiator.
    Tip: Please note that you will need to use PTFE tape or similar on both threads!

Once you have both entry points used and sealed, you are left with one more entry point on top of the radiator which will be sealed with bleed valve, also known as air-went.

  1. Next, you will need to fill the radiator with water from the top entry point.
    Tip: As you fill the radiator, shake and tip the radiator to the left and right. This will enable water to flow through all the horizontal bars. You will also need to leave a gap of an inch or two on top of the radiator.
  1. After you complete the steps above by sealing the bottom ends, filling the radiator with water leaving a little gap on the top, you will then hang the radiator using the wall brackets supplied with the towel radiator and wire the electric element to a fused spur.
  1. Once ready, you will need to turn the electric element on and wait for a while for the water inside the radiator to get as hot as possible.  If you have followed the steps above, you will find that the top entry point is still not sealed. By leaving this open to air, you will let water expand freely without causing any pressure inside the radiator. You now gather why you needed to leave a  gap on top the radiator on step 3. By doing so, you will avoid water spillage.
  1. Last stage will be to seal the top entry point using the bleed valve supplied. But you should only do this when water inside the radiator has reached its hottest possible level , again using a PTFE tape or similar.

There you have converted a central heated towel radiator to an electric only towel radiator, or electric only use for your bathroom.

Towel Radiator Heat Outputs

With our previous blog posted earlier this week, we have covered the difference between Delta50 and Delta60. However there are a few more points to consider when comparing two towel radiators.

Actual surface space of the towel radiator is also very important and this will also contribute towards radiator heat outputs. Say we have two of the most standard sized towel radiators which are 500mm in width and 1150mm in height and we have two suppliers with exact same size radiator. Both supplier A and supplier B is advertising their products at Delta60 and yet when we compare the two radiators there is still a difference. When you are faced with this difference in heat outputs, you will need to check;

a. Total number of horizontal bars/rails
b. Thickness of the vertical and horizontal rails.

Both of these above will contribute to the overall surface space of a radiator. Naturally, greater the surface space, higher the heat output. While 1st radiator from supplier A has a total number of 18 horizontal bars, 2nd radiator from supplier B may have 22 horizontal bars. In this instance, 1st radiator will have wider gaps to hang your towels which may be a useful thing but as there are fewer bars, there will be less surface space, hence less heat. However, on the 2nd radiator, gaps may be shorter but as there are more bars, it will have a greater surface space, hence more heat. Alternatively both of the same size radiators may have a total number of 20 horizontal bars but the diameter of the bars on the 1st towel radiator may be 19mm where the diameter of the bars 0n the 2nd towel radiator may be 22mm. Again, this will mean that the second radiator would have more surface space; hence it will give out more heat compared to other towel radiator.

In a nutshell:
More Surface Space = More Heat

Why Do Same Size Towel Radiators Give Out Different Heat – BTU

So you are looking to buy a new towel radiator and you have done your homework. Know exactly what size radiator you need and you have used our BTU Calculator to find out your heat requirements but the search is still on simply because you are confused!

You have seen a few heated towel rails from various online or high street retailers but you are puzzled with fact that same or very similar size radiators gives out different heat. You are asking yourself  “How come these two same/similar size radiators gives out different heat?” While your search for the perfect towel radiator may be still on,  you have at least come to the right place to get your answer for the question above.

A simple one word answer to your question would be Delta (a.k.a. Delta T)The heat output of a radiator depends on three temperatures; Flow (water entering the radiator), Return (water exiting the radiator) and Room/Ambiance temperature. To ensure that a sensible and accurate comparisons can be made between different products, all radiators are tested in controlled laboratory environment as per BS EN442 standards. From 1st July 1997 all radiators manufactured in the EU must comply with BS EN442 standards and all radiators must be tested using the following temperatures;

Flow = 75℃  (Water Temperature)
Return = 65℃ (Water Temperature)
Room/Ambiance = 20℃

Flow ℃
Return ℃
Room Temp ℃
Delta T

So the calculation would be;
75 + 65 = 140
140 / 2 = 70 (mean average water temperature)
70 – 20 = 50 (Delta50)

Once we know the heat output of a radiator in Delta50 we can easily convert it to Delta60 by multiplying this figure with “1.264″. Now lets explain where the differences is coming from. If a towel radiator is advertised as 1000 BTU’s in Delta50, it can also be advertised as 1264 BTU’s in Delta60. Radiator is the same and the heat output is fixed but different suppliers may display their towel radiator’s BTUs in different Delta T figures and this is why you may see same or similar size radiators have discrepancies in their heat outputs.

You may now ask yourself; If whole of Europe is using Delta50 and all radiators are tested to Delta50 standards, why here in the UK  we are still using Delta60? Prior to July 1997 BS 3528 was used which was based on Delta60 and most plumbers and heat engineers here in the UK are still using Delta60.