Table of contents:

Radiator types: the most important in comparison
Radiator types: the most important in comparison

Video: Radiator types: the most important in comparison

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Video: Efficient radiators 2023, January
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Depending on the design, radiators have different performance and requirements for the heating system. You can find out what distinguishes the different types of radiators and how they work in our large guide.

Table of contents Table of contents The most important types of radiators at a glance

  • Differentiation: convection and radiant heat
  • Panel radiators (flat radiators)
  • Sectional heater type I
  • Sectional radiator type II
  • Convectors
  • Special forms
  • FAQ

Table of contents Table of contents The most important types of radiators at a glance

  • Differentiation: convection and radiant heat
  • Panel radiators (flat radiators)
  • Sectional heater type I
  • Sectional radiator type II
  • Convectors
  • Special forms
  • FAQ

Whether flat radiators, sectional radiators or convectors: all types of radiators have the same basic function: they transfer the heat generated in the heating system to the room air. At the same time, radiators should meet certain design requirements - they must not be perceived as visual disruptive factors in the room and, in the best case, are even completely invisible.

Convection or radiant heat? The biggest differences

There are two types of heat dissipation in radiators: convection heat and radiant heat. All types of radiators generate both types of heat, but the proportions vary greatly depending on the type of device. The basic rule applies: the higher the proportion of radiant heat, the greater the heating comfort.

  • Convection occurs on the outside of the radiator: warm air rises, cold floor air flows in from below. The convection radiation only heats the ambient air and no solid components such as walls, ceilings or floors. It also creates strong air movements and whirls up a fair amount of dust - a disadvantage for allergy sufferers. Since only the air is heated, the subjective feeling of warmth is lower at the same room temperature than with radiant heat. Convection heaters can be recognized by their numerous thin metal fins, which are mounted on one or more central heating elements at a short distance from each other. Depending on the type of radiator, these are heated either by electricity or by hot water. The goal is to exchange heat with the surrounding air as widely as possible.
  • The radiant heat of a radiator works just as the heat radiates from the sun to the earth: it only heats the solid and liquid matter in the room, while the air remains cool. We find this type of heat particularly pleasant - it appears subjectively warmer than convection heat, since it also heats our body directly and not only indirectly via the temperature of the room air. Radiator types that are optimized for radiant heat generally have significantly fewer fins than convection radiators.

Panel radiators (flat radiators)

The heating surfaces of the plate radiators consist of two smooth or slightly profiled sheet steel plates, in which pipes or channels carrying hot water run. In order to increase the heat output, sheet metal convector shafts are usually installed between the plates; more than two panels can also be installed one behind the other. They are veneered on the sides and mostly covered horizontally at the top with a punched perforated plate. Advantage: Panel radiators are very space-saving and, despite their light construction, very efficient - with the same heating output, the panel radiator requires the least water compared to other designs and is therefore up to 30 percent more energy efficient than other types of radiators. In addition, a large proportion of the heat generated is released as radiant heat due to the large heating surfaces facing the room.

Plattenheizkörper
Plattenheizkörper

Panel radiators give off their heat mainly as radiant heat.

/ Pavel Lysenko

Sectional heater type I

Rib radiators are the oldest type of radiator: Individual, identical sections or section blocks with a depth of 70 to 250 millimeters are strung together in any number and assembled to form radiators. In this way, their size can be adapted very flexibly to the space available in the room and any desired heat output can be achieved. Their connections are also variable, so that the radiators can be connected to pipes with different diameters.

Rippenradiator
Rippenradiator

Rib radiators are the oldest of all types of radiators.

Photo: Replicata

The word "radiator" comes from the Latin word for radiation. This term is also common for sectional radiators, but is rather misleading: they have little space to radiate heat - about 70 percent of it is distributed by convection.

In the past, finned radiators were made of cast iron. They are considered to be particularly corrosion-resistant and durable. Today steel sheet is mostly used because it is lighter and cheaper. Due to its design and the large water content, this type of radiator reacts somewhat sluggishly. He also claims the installation of a heating niche. For this reason, it was previously mainly placed in the window niches that already existed, which is associated with relatively high heat losses with a correspondingly thinner wall thickness and inadequate thermal insulation. The angular ribs also pose a high risk of injury: Small children in particular often suffer deep lacerations when playing and romping as well as when they first try to walk if they fall and hit their heads on the ribs.

Sectional radiators are the cheapest types of radiators on the market, but are no longer widely used due to the disadvantages mentioned. They are still valued because they can be easily adapted to any required heat output. That is why today they are predominantly installed in large buildings such as schools and administrative buildings.

Sectional radiator type II

Steel tube or tube radiators are further developments of the sectional radiators described above. They also consist of individual links and are available in all possible heights and depths. Pipes are not only arranged side by side or one above the other. They can also be installed in up to six rows in a row to achieve the desired heat output.

Gliederheizkörper Typ II
Gliederheizkörper Typ II

Steel tube or tube radiators are the modern advancement of the fin radiators.

Photo: iStock / Akintevs

Like the old sectional radiators, heating tubes emit little radiant heat (around 30 percent). The heat is transferred into the room primarily by convection. Tube radiators heat optimally if they are installed free-standing. The big plus: They are very durable and are very easy to clean. Another advantage is that tubular radiators are very flexible in size and shape. For example, they are offered as towel warmers for the bathroom, frame bathroom mirrors or can also be used as banisters.

Convectors

At around 25 centimeters high, convectors are extremely low types of radiators, but still very powerful. Convectors consist of closely aligned sheet steel, aluminum or copper fins. These fins are welded, pressed or soldered onto pipes or pipe profiles and clad with a sheet metal housing: this creates a shaft through which cool air flows in from below, warms up on the fins and rises as warm air from the convector.

It will come as no surprise: these radiators transfer their heat through convection. Compared to radiators, convectors require less warm water for the same heat output and are much lighter.

Konvektor
Konvektor

At around 25 centimeters high, convectors are extremely low radiators, but they have enormous performance.

Photo: epr / Joco

Another advantage of the convectors is their low inertia. They heat up quickly and heat the room air in a relatively short time. In rooms with large, floor-to-ceiling windows, they hardly interfere optically. In front of fully glazed house walls and in the winter garden, they can even be installed in the floor as so-called underfloor convectors in a specially designed shaft. However, despite good thermal insulation, up to 30 percent of the possible heating output is lost.

Convector heaters are more expensive to buy and difficult to clean due to their narrow fins. Due to the strong air circulation, warm air rises quickly - some people find this uncomfortable and complain about drafts and cold feet.

In addition, convectors stir up dust and are therefore only suitable for allergy sufferers to a limited extent.

Special forms of radiators

In addition to the standard radiators, individual and original designs are often required depending on the building project, for example heated room dividers, wardrobes or railings. There are various manufacturers that specialize in the construction of designer radiators as well as custom and custom-made products.

By the way: In our guide we explain step by step how to replace a radiator.

FAQ about radiator types

Radiators are available as link and plate radiators in all sizes and RAL colors. Which type of radiator is recommended?

Panel radiators are undoubtedly the best solution due to their high energy efficiency, low weight and compact design. Modern sectional radiators made of pipes can be the better choice for special requirements - for example as a towel rail in the bathroom.

Does it make sense to install radiators under the window?

This was common in the past, but is no longer recommended for reasons of energy efficiency. The greatest heat losses occur on window surfaces. In addition, the outer walls in window niches are thinner and therefore less well insulated. If you want to renovate an old building, you should better wall and insulate the window niches and mount a compact panel radiator in front of the wall. It would be even better to find another place for the radiator that should be as far away from the window as possible. However, this can usually only be achieved if all heating pipes are also replaced and relocated.

What is the best way to heat a room with floor-to-ceiling windows?

Basically, radiators should not be placed in front of glass surfaces, because on the one hand this means higher energy consumption and on the other hand it is not good for the eye. Only convectors are conceivable in front of floor-standing windows: about the height of a calf or integrated into the floor. The alternative for such rooms is underfloor heating - or a panel radiator that is mounted on another wall.

Which radiators are recommended for the renovation of a house from the 1960s?

The old night storage heaters that were widespread at the time should be removed in any case. After all, they consume a lot of electricity and often also contain asbestos. In order to heat properly, a new gas heater with a burner and modern sectional or plate radiators is advisable. If you want to keep the radiators under the windows for structural reasons, you should always insulate the wall underneath each window so that as little heat as possible is lost.

Which type of radiator is advisable when renovating an Art Nouveau building?

In old villas there are often decorative radiators made of cast iron. Experts advise keeping them for stylistic reasons and removing the many layers of paint to preserve their beauty. Alternatively, you can ask antique building material dealers for suitable models.

Should builders follow the trend of panel heating?

Underfloor heating convinces many users, because thanks to the surface heating, no radiator in the room disturbs. However, they also have some deficits: First, they take longer to warm up. On the other hand, they have a negative impact on the indoor climate: For example, the air becomes much drier. In addition, the way in which underfloor heating works is in contrast to human body circulation: if our feet are constantly heated, they become heavy and thick. Especially people with cardiovascular disorders or allergy sufferers should choose underfloor heating. Indoor plants also do not tolerate underfloor heating well because the bale is heated too much in winter.

Would you like a new heater? Here you will find experts in your area.

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