There was a time when every centrally heated home was fitted with a large, cumbersome cast iron radiator that not only took up a large amount of space but also were not especially efficient by modern day standards in heating. These traditional radiators ran on a single pipe system where water was heated to create steam that was then pumped up through the pipe in the radiator. As the steam cooled, the condensation would run back down the same pipe to be re-heated. In the past few decades, double pipe water heating has largely replaced the old system. Here, the water itself is heated and pumped into the pipes to heat the radiator. As it cools it runs down a separate pipe on the opposite side and back into the boiler to be reheated.
As the technology advances so do the designs and as designers find ways to make the system more and more efficient, they are able to be more creative and innovative with the designs. Gone are the days when white, floor level heaters with fins were the only choice, nowadays it is possible to find almost anything you can imagine to fit in with your decor.
For a sleek, modern, contemporary feel narrow vertical heaters are increasingly popular, available in almost every conceivable design from long slim tubes that resemble large bamboo shoots to flat, unobtrusive panels. Tessellated shapes can be built up the wall orshapely curves and off-centre designs can enhance the decor and fluidity of the room. They can be fitted to sit just above the floor or be wall mounted and are available in lots of subtle or statement colours and finishes.
Horizontal radiators, reminiscent in shape of traditional domestic heaters can now be found in functional yet stylish and unusual designs, from subtle, flat panels that sit neatly under the window sill, to shiny chrome blades mounted in the centre of the wall.
Increasingly popular and common are picture radiators, combining the functionality of a heater with the design feature of a painting. Artworks can be airbrushed onto the flat panel of a radiator, from abstract modern art to full blown portraits.
Lit mirror radiators incorporate heating, lighting and reflection. Fluorescent lighting is embedded into the mirror for a slick, stylish, functional finish, particularly popular in bedrooms.
For those who want to make a statement with their radiator choice, the range is surprisingly broad.A coiled silver hose, hooked onto the wall and connected at either end to the wall valves, resembles a garden hose and makes a distinct impression. A freestanding heater, designed like a life sized golden harp is connected to the under-floor heating, looks beautiful and efficiently emits heat with its large surface area. Modular heating from silver or coloured flowers mounted to creep across the wall like a futuristic garden are particularly popular in the bathroom and can also incorporate lighting to provide an attractive undulating effect. These unique pieces provide heat as well as style to a room.
As is often the way, the traditional has come back around into fashion and the traditional Victorian cast iron radiators are being sought more and more. With the advancements in heating technology, it is generally not cost efficient to have an original refurbished. Cast iron replicas are available with new double pipe technology. They look authentic and heat rooms at the rate consumers are used to these days. Cast iron replicas are particularly suited to character homes and period decor and are available with carvings and engravings from cherubs to flowers in a range of tasteful hues.
As well as range of shape and design, there is also a wide choice of material available. Radiators have generally been made from mild steel in the past but in very recent years, different metals have started to be used. Stainless steel provides a clean, slick, high shine and excellent heating efficiency; what’s more, it does not rust and is easily restored. Aluminium is particularly conducive to creating attractively shaped radiators. Shiny chrome, although not as efficient in heat output as other metals, offers a unique style, perfect for a retro themed decor.
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