Does your home, office or any space need to be heated and radiators are the best source of heat? If so, you've come to the right place!
This article is all about radiators. We’ll talk about how they work, how many types of radiators there are, how to install them and so much more. Ready? Let’s begin!
How Do Radiators Work?
A radiator heats rooms comfortably by emitting heat through its surface. Hot water or electricity serves as an energy source and is used in the form of thermal energy.
In the case of radiators that are connected to a heating system, the heating water cools down as it flows through and is brought up to temperature again in the boiler. Electric radiators - including fan heaters, radiant heaters, infrared heaters, wall convectors and classic night storage heating - use electricity from the utility or from photovoltaics to heat a room.
There are basically two types of heat transfers, both of which ensure the heating of a room, but are based on different physical principles: convection and radiation.
In convection, the heat is transferred via the radiator to the room air, which heats up, moves around the room and triggers circulation. The warm surfaces of the radiator give off heat energy to the surrounding air, which rises upwards. At the same time, cool air on the floor can flow to the radiator and is heated up there, and the cycle continues.
With the principle of radiant heat, the thermal energy is not transported via the medium of air, but instead hits solid objects such as walls, furniture and people as thermal radiation. This requires surfaces with high temperatures of around 110° C to scatter the radiation and distribute it evenly in the room. Radiant heat is perceived as very pleasant.
Good to know:
Surface heating such as wall, ceiling or floor heating as well as modern panel radiators work with large surfaces and therefore only require a low flow temperature. Therefore, a comparatively small radiator should be operated at a significantly higher temperature in order to generate the same heating output. In other words, the larger the heating surface, the lower the flow temperature and vice versa.
Types of radiators
There are a variety of radiators designed for different applications. We describe the main types and indicate the heating situations for which the radiators are suitable.
Steel/Cast Iron radiator
The steel/cast iron radiator is the classic and oldest variant of radiators, which dates back to the 19th century. The heavy cast-iron elements (now made of steel) are still in use in many buildings. Heavy cast iron radiators often have foot cast because the weight is too high for wall mounting.
Steel/cast iron radiators give off a large part of the heat via convection; Therefore, many dust particles circulate in the room air. Such radiators are preferably operated with condensing boilers. In principle, radiators work in well-insulated buildings at medium flow temperatures. If the insulation is poor, however, a high flow temperature is required.
With panel radiators, several heating plates made of sheet steel, through which the heating water flows, are combined to form a radiator. Convection plates are usually attached between these heating plates, which in turn absorb the heat and thus transfer it to the air. At the same time, plate radiators give off a large part of their heat in the form of radiation due to the large plate surface.
The amount of convection heat can be increased by increasing the number of convection plates. Modern panel radiators can also be operated with low flow temperatures. In addition to gas heating, a heat pump is also an option as a heat source if designed accordingly.
Convection heaters are a special form of compact heaters that are operated electrically and are mostly mobile. Below the radiator, there are sometimes small fans that suck in the cold air near the surface, heat it up during transport over the hot surfaces and release it into the room at the top. As a result, heat is made available quickly, but it has its price: operation with electricity results in high costs if a convector is in operation for longer. The purchase and installation, however, are cheap and easy.
Tubular Radiator/ Towel Warmer
A tubular radiator or a bathroom radiator corresponds to the structure of a sectional radiator, whereby the version with horizontal heating pipes for the bathroom as a towel dryer is known in many households. In the sanitary sector, tubular radiators (mostly in white) have proven themselves as bathroom radiators because they are easy to care for and are durable. Most of the heat is radiated in the form of convection.
Condensing boilers are particularly suitable as a heating system. If a heat pump is to be used, the area of the tubular radiator must be larger because the flow temperature is lower. There is also the option of operating a tubular radiator purely electrically or as a hybrid (hot water and electricity).
Floor heating uses the floor in a room to heat a room. It can also be installed in the form of wall or ceiling heating. The advantages of underfloor heating include low flow temperatures and the elimination of radiators in the room. Underfloor heating with its large heating surface is operated particularly efficiently with renewable energies such as solar thermal energy and heat pumps, as these show their efficiency to the full at low flow temperatures. The use of gas condensing boilers is also possible with underfloor heaters.
With infrared heating, electrical energy is converted into thermal energy and radiated into the room in one device. Due to their design as panel radiators, infrared heaters are inconspicuous and easy to install in rooms afterward. They work on the principle of radiation and deliver heat after a short time. Since electricity is an expensive source of energy, the purchase of infrared heating is usually only worthwhile for small and temporarily heated rooms.
Installation of radiators
You can find thousands of tutorials on radiator installations, so we’re not going to go through the instructions again here. What we want to talk about is the importance of the suitable placement of radiators, especially in larger rooms.
An important rule is that radiators in larger rooms and kitchens should be installed on outside walls and preferably under windows. Why is that? Because windows, especially in old buildings will cause drafts. Placing a radiator right under it will allow the warm air from the radiator to be drawn upwards, mix and then circulate in the room. If the radiators are not placed near the window, you will feel the draft during the cold season.
In well-insulated buildings, the location of radiators is not the highest priority. The main concern here is the correct positioning of the ventilation openings because the exchange of air is an issue.
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