Radiating future relevance


With energy efficient heating systems fast becoming vital components of new homes, Chris Harvey of Stelrad Radiators looks at some of the hottest ideas when it comes to radiator innovation for self-builds

With the major changes taking place in the UK heating sector, self-builders are among those taking a good hard look at the options available to them to keep their new homes warm and cosy, while also taking advantage of the technology available to them. The Government has said that from 2025, no new properties built will be allowed to utilise fossil fuelled heating systems, so it’s ‘bye bye’ to boilers as we know them although there is a lot of hot air currently being shared by boiler manufacturers about the arrival of hydrogen-fuelled boilers.

Having a boiler that works and having the infrastructure to provide the quantity of hydrogen required to power the millions of boilers operating in the UK is something very different. Many people are realising that the tried and tested technology of heat pumps – air source or ground source – makes total sense. This comes slightly later than our European cousins, who have embraced the proven technology already and are installing hundreds of thousands of heat pumps every year.

Here in the UK we are managing something like 25,000 heat pump installations a year, although that number is set to increase exponentially in the next two or three years, with new build developers in particular, likely to lead the way with a switch to heat pumps to provide heating and hot water in far better insulated new build properties up and down the UK. And it seems likely that self-builders will be joining them to raise the levels of acceptance of heat pumps as the primary source of heating and hot water in their homes.


But as well as the technology to drive the heating system, it’s important to consider the means of sharing the heat generated effectively around the home. Will the current technology be able to cope with the lower 45-50 degrees temperatures generated by heat pumps when compared to the 80 degrees plus generated by boilers?

The simple answer is yes, they will, but as with all radiators even nowadays, they will need to be sized correctly for the heat source and for the rooms they need to heat. Better levels of insulation will add to the cosiness of homes and the heat from a renewable heating system is more than adequate to keep us all warm even during the coldest days of winter. Just think of the areas of the world where heat pumps are most popular – Scandinavia, Canada – hardly the warmest parts of the world, yet they are more than happy to entrust the heating and hot water to heat pump driven heating systems. The majority of them are partnered with radiators, in some cases shared with underfloor heating.

Radiators are a key component of most heating systems in the UK – around 90 per cent of all heating systems are partnered with radiators. In recent years radiators have improved in efficiency and design with better designed water channels, and new ways of reducing the water content required to flow through radiators while increasing the amount of metal that comes into contact with that heated water to share more heat more efficiently around the home.

With the advent of renewable heating systems, we are seeing the need for larger radiators and for higher capacity radiators – such as a rise in sales of K3 radiators. These have three panels and three sets of fins, allowing for 50 per cent more metal surface area to warm the air than a standard K2 double panel radiator, without increasing the wall footprint. We are also seeing the sales of larger radiators which is not surprising, as radiators today are increasingly seen as part of the decor – not simply an appliance. A huge range of different styles and designs are available – such as designer radiators and premium panel radiators – to blend in perfectly with decor. You can get up to 36 different colours to match or contrast your colour schemes – no longer ‘any colour so long as it’s white’!


Over the past couple of decades the race for more efficient heating systems has been paramount in the heating industry, with the arrival first of combi boilers and then of condensing, modulating boilers, followed by the development of far better heating controls, energy efficient pumps and a wider range of more effective radiators. The development of lower temperature heating systems, utilising renewable heating has given us another challenge, but it’s one the industry has risen to and are able to respond to effectively. Radiators are all compatible with all heating systems – traditional and renewable – when sized correctly.

In the area of renewable heating systems, radiators have developed to offer the compatible solutions that people will feel comfortable with. In terms of styles, there are a much wider range of vertical radiators available, adding to the huge number of new designs and sizes, and helping to provide the larger radiators needed by the renewable heating options. Vertical radiators, with a much reduced horizontal footprint, can slot into smaller wall areas in a room, to provide the levels of heat required without taking up large wall areas that can cause confrontation with furniture in the rooms.

Much thought has gone into the latest radiator developments and it’s all to ensure that the radiators available are ‘fit for the future’ – able to continue providing the levels of heat required in homes in the UK to keep everyone comfortable.

Chris Harvey is head of marketing at Stelrad Radiators