Imagine you have something in your house which you look at and use every day. You rely on it a lot to work without interruption, and it seemingly never lets you down for years on end. Now imagine you have no idea how it works, why that particular item is here, and whether it’s even any good.
That my friends is pretty much how a lot of people, formerly including myself, look at the radiators around our homes. I will unabashedly say that for years I never stopped to consider what the double panel radiators around my house were doing, or whether they were any good. If it’s something you’ve never thought about either, and now while reading this, you’re feeling a slight flush of embarrassment surrounding the topic, fear not!
I am going to assuage those fears and quickly turn you into the radiator expert of your home by answering some of the most common questions (according to Google) that people have about double panel radiators. I can’t guarantee you’ll come out at the other side with the knowledge of an expert plumber, but I can guarantee you’ll soon have an appreciation for the most common radiator found in homes, as well as how to look after one.
Let’s venture forth and answer those questions some people are just too afraid to ask!
What is a double panel radiator?
Let’s start with an absolute doozy. Double panel radiators are horizontal radiators which are connected at the bottom (and sometimes top) with valves. Hot water enters from the bottom, splits between the two panels, and moves through the radiator to warm it up.
What are the fins things in between the panels for?
You might have one or two rows of fins in between the panels which you only ever take notice of when you drop something down them. If you’ve ever wondered what they’re for, it’s actually a nifty piece of engineering which makes your double panel radiators perform better. The fins increase the surface area of the radiator. When your radiator gets warm, they do too. As cold air rises up through the radiator, it has greater contact with the heat, which increases the output of warm air in the room.
All that from a slight bend in the metal, eh?
Are double panel radiators better than single panel radiators?
Now we’re getting to the real meaty questions. You might think that double the panels is double the heat output, right? Well, no. You have to realise that just because the surface area the radiator covers will increase, it won’t necessarily mean a direct double in heating too. Most double panel radiators will provide a greater degree of heat without much more consumption.
The only time a single panel radiator would work better than double is if you have the room for a much wider and taller radiator on the wall. But that wouldn’t necessarily be the most practical solution.
So, are double panel radiators the most efficient radiators?
There’s a reason why most homes opt for a double panel. You’re usually getting the most bang for your buck for the amount of energy used. It is easiest to think of any double panel radiator as a single radiator split, as the water coming in and out doesn’t have far to travel (i.e. you’re not losing heat with more panels).
They’re arguably the most efficient steel radiators, as they also tend to provide a good degree of heat retention after your heating has been turned off. Conversely, if you wanted a radiator which heated up as quickly as possible, a double panel aluminium radiator is your best bet. Bear in mind though, aluminium radiators are much more expensive.
How do you get a good deal on a double panel radiator?
Ever been standing in the bathroom section at IKEA and noticed all the plumber in there comparing different types of toilets? No, and there’s a good reason why. While the general public tends to go to big-name DIY stores where everything is out on display, tradesmen and women will go to local trade stores. These stores typically have lower prices as they tend to shy away from brand names and know that when a professional comes to buy a product, the chances of a return are much lower.
It can be daunting to go to a trade store if you don’t know the lingo, so I recommend snooping around online instead. Trade Radiators is a prime example of a radiator specialist which tradespeople use, with some great prices on double panel radiators. Stores like them also highlight the accessories and other bits you’d need to get, rather than making multiple trips to the store for valves and plugs.
Do double panel radiators last for a long time?
If your heating system is in good shape, and you take care of your radiators, there’s no reason why a double panel radiator can’t last the guts of 20 years. One slight problem to look out for is dirt build-up in the radiator. If you notice there’s a cold spot in the centre which doesn’t heat up after letting air out and increasing the flow, you’ll want to get the radiator flushed out.
Do you need to do anything special to install a double panel radiator?
No. You hang it on the wall just like you would with a single panel radiator. If you are making the switch, I would recommend you keep an eye on radiator depth. If you’re upgrading from a single panel with one row of fins (also known as a Type 11 radiator) to a double panel with two rows of fins (known as a Type 22 radiator), you’re looking at more than double the original width. In rooms like the dining room or bedroom, it is important to factor that in so you aren’t cramping the room. Just imaging getting a lovely new radiator installed and realising your bed doesn’t fit in anymore!
Are double panel radiators the best to get?
While I have just spent a long time bigging up double panel radiators, I think it is a case of each to their own. There’s no doubt they are economical and reliable, but you might have a certain style or design in mind that a double panel radiator can’t capture. For the most part, though, there’s a reason why it’s the most common radiator used in homes across the country. It does a good job and hardly ever lets you down.
There you have it. I hopefully have answered all those (possibly) embarrassing questions, and you now understand everything you’ve ever wanted to know about double panel radiators.