Could a Towel Rail Heat Your Bathroom?

Published: 27 Feb 2024 ・ Read time: 6 mins
A heated towel rail can be a great addition to your bathroom when keeping this space cosy. These stylish and functional fixtures are a practical addition to any home, providing warm towels and an added touch of luxury to the décor.
Yet, with the cost of living crisis still a topic of conversation, some homeowners wonder if a towel rail could heat the bathroom effectively. 
If you’re considering adding a heated towel rail to your bathroom, it’s vital to ensure you get the right one for your needs. Here, City Plumbing looks at these multifunctional designs, exploring the potential of a towel rail as a heating solution for your bathroom.

The Functionality of a Heated Towel Rail

A towel rail is typically used to hang towels for drying after use. It also adds additional comfort when warming towels ready for stepping straight out of the shower or bath. Yet, in recent years and with the addition of so many spectacular designs available, heated towel rails, with their modern design features, have also become a bit of a trendy addition to homes.
However, another aspect that some people find with a heated towel rail is its added functionality of providing heat to the bathroom. Many towel rails will promote a nice warmth around the immediate area of these devices, creating a much-needed cosy atmosphere.

How Does a Towel Rail Heat Your Bathroom?

A towel rail heats up by warming the metal bars or pipes that make up the rail. As the bars heat up, they radiate warmth, providing a comfortable and cosy bathroom fixture. The heat generated by the towel rail can help take the chill out of the air, making your bathroom an inviting space, especially during the colder months.
Three main types of bathroom heated towel rails include standard, electric, and dual fuel choices. Each choice heats the towel rail in a slightly different way. The best heated towel rails will depend on your home heating system.
Standard Central Heating System:
Central heating is the most common type of heating system in the home, with a gas boiler connected and heating the home's water supply via thermostat. So, central heated towel rails, also known as standard towel rails, will be needed here. 
A standard towel rail connects to the central heating system and heats up via the hot water that flows through it. 
Electric Heating System:
Some homes without a central heating system powered by gas, have their heating supplies via an electrical system instead. The form of heating here is typically storage heaters around the home that are connected to the mains. Heated towel rails here will therefore need to be an electric choice that plug into the main electrical supply. 
An electric heated towel rail works simply by an on and off switch, as and when needed. 
Dual Fuel Heating System:
Some homes benefit from a combination of a gas central heating system and an electrical heating system. An example here is radiators in all rooms for a main heating source with an electric heating source in a room that’s only used occasionally. 
A dual fuel heated towel rail allows you to choose which system to use, making it a great help in summer when you only need the towel rail on, not the entire heating system.
A dual fuel heated towel rail is connected to the central heating system but also has an electrical element that allows you to switch it on and off as required.
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Advantages of Using a Towel Rail for Heating

  • Efficient Heating: A towel rail can provide localised heating, which is ideal for smaller spaces like bathrooms
  • Space-saving: Since a towel rail can serve a dual-purpose of heating and drying towels, it saves space and potentially eliminates the need for additional heating appliances.
  • Energy-efficient: Most towel rails are energy-efficient and can be programmed to operate only when needed, saving on energy bills.

Potential Drawbacks of Using a Towel Rail for Heating

  • Limited Heating Capacity: While a towel rail can effectively heat a small bathroom, it may not be sufficient for larger bathrooms or spaces with poor insulation.
  • Installation Constraints: Installing a towel rail may require professional assistance, especially if it involves electrical connections.

Which Size Bathrooms Are Heated Towel Rails Suited To?

Before making a purchase, it's important to consider which size bathrooms are best suited to heated towel rails. Here we consider the different sizes of bathrooms and how to choose the right heated towel rail for your space to gain the most from your design.
  • Best Heated Towel Rails For Small Bathrooms
Heated towel rails can be a great addition to small bathrooms, not just for the practical side of keeping towels warm but as a valuable source of heating. If you’re looking to replace a radiator with a heated towel radiator, then a small bathroom offers much more potential to do so. 
Not only providing a convenient place to hang towels, in a small bathroom, a compact heated towel rail can be the perfect solution for keeping this space warm and toasty. With a smaller space to cover, a towel rail here should be sufficient for heating the room while ensuring an ideal room temperature
When choosing a heated towel rail for a small bathroom, consider the BTU (British Thermal Unit) output. This will determine how much heat the rail can produce and whether it will be up to heating this room size. Yet, it’s a good idea to opt for a rail with a lower BTU output for smaller bathrooms to ensure efficient heating without overpowering this space.
Look for straight heated towel rails and slimline models that can be mounted on the wall to save space. These can easily fit in even the tiniest of bathrooms without taking up too much room. A wall hung heated towel rail not only looks great but allows the design of the room to flow freely. 
City Plumbing recommends a smaller-sized straight towel rail that adds practicality to your bathroom while promoting an effective heating solution.  
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  • Best Heated Towel Rails For Medium-Sized Bathrooms
For medium-sized bathrooms, you have a bit more flexibility when it comes to choosing a heated towel rail. You can opt for a larger model that provides more hanging space for towels and a higher BTU output for increased warmth. 
Yet, you can also consider adding to your room's current heating solution by adding a smaller heated towel rail for a complementary effect to your bathroom’s style.
A freestanding heated towel rail can be a great option for medium-sized bathrooms. These can be placed anywhere in the room and don't require any installation, making them easy to move around and reposition as needed. Look for sleek, modern designs that will add a touch of elegance to your bathroom.
For an effective heating solution for a medium-sized bathroom, consider curved heated towel rails, especially those that offer more coverage than small bathroom models. 
City Plumbing recommends a medium-sized curved towel rail that offers an effective heating solution and adds a decorative piece to your bathroom.
  • Best Heated Towel Rails For Large Bathrooms
Homeowners have more freedom with larger bathrooms when it comes to choosing a heated towel rail that makes a statement. Here, those larger models work perfectly, as well as stunning designer rails. Helping make a statement and create a focal point, the more decorative heated towel rails can really add to a larger bathroom aesthetic.
However, it’s worth noting that in many large bathrooms, a heated towel rail may not be enough on its own to heat this entire room. Large bathrooms may well find that a heated towel rail doesn't quite offer full coverage and will need to be used in conjunction with current heating solutions. 
Fortunately, it’s not always necessary to consider replacing a radiator with a towel rail in a larger bathroom space. With plentiful room, you can instead pay attention to the material and finish and opt for designer heated towel rails
Stainless steel towel rails are durable and easy to clean, making them a practical choice for a busy bathroom. Towel rails with chrome finishes can add a sleek, modern look, while matte black can bring a touch of sophistication.
City Plumbing recommends a large-sized designer heated towel rail that works to offer a good deal of heat to the room while adding a spectacular bathroom feature in the process. 
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A Heated Towel Rail Can Be a Good Heating Solution for Some Bathrooms

Overall, a towel rail can indeed heat some bathrooms, providing both warmth and functionality. Yet, while it may not be the primary heating source for larger spaces, it can still be a practical and efficient way to keep your bathroom cosy and comfortable. 
If you’re considering buying a heated towel rail for the bathroom, check out the City Plumbing website. Offering a vast selection of towel rails to suit, we provide heating solutions that ensure the ultimate comfort, while helping you stay on budget. 
For further guidance on navigating the cost of living, take a look at our sought-after help and advice section.

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