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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.