Designer radiators: Striking the right balance

01st November 2017

Trade News

Homeowners adore their radiators, especially during the winter season; they keep them warm and comfortable regardless of the temperatures and the unseemly weather outside.  Many have different expectations of a radiator, some simply want radiators to efficiently heat their homes, while others also expect their radiators to be appealing and stylish, and seamlessly fit into the interior of their home.

It is imperative to keep customers’ warm and happy and therefore Plumbmaster have teamed up with QRL Radiator Group to look at the rise of designer radiators – and explain what installers need to know to offer customers the best in terms of style AND functionality.

Modern living

Radiators are more than functional products that serve the sole purpose of heating a room. Today’s house-proud consumers are increasingly seeking out high-spec feature heating that looks good and reflects their personal style. Inevitably, the market is responding with a progressively bigger and better range of sleek and stylish designer radiators, in an almost endless variety of shapes, colours and sizes. With everything from premium panels to tubular towel warmers and vertical column radiators capturing consumer interest, the designer radiator market shows no signs of slowing. But as the product pool continues to grow, how can installers ensure they’re matching what consumers want with a product that’s fit for purpose?

QRL Topaz Designer Radiator

QRL Topaz Designer Radiator available from Plumbmaster or Haldane Fisher Bathroom Showrooms

Firstly, it’s important to understand what’s driving demand. It’s partly a by-product of the switched-on society we live in: one that has unrestricted, 24/7 access to a virtually infinite supply of interior and product inspiration through the world wide web. The digital age has changed the way we do most things, but above all it’s given us more choice than ever before. From Pinterest to Houzz, people are now increasingly on the lookout for relatively low-cost ways to give homes a designer makeover – and radiators are no exception.

Another factor boosting appeal is the flexibility designer radiators offer. The styles and colours available make it easy to choose a product to match your décor – from compact premium panels in bright hues for modern living rooms, to traditional multi-column models in muted tones for country kitchens. Designer radiators are also often the go-to choice for customers looking to make the most of limited space or an unconventional floor plan. Striking vertical models are a case in point, as they take up less wall space. They also rise upwards instead of outwards, meaning they’re ideal for rooms where a horizontal radiator would be hidden from view (e.g. behind furniture).

As designer radiators have grown in popularity, prices have also fallen across the board – making them an even more attractive prospect for style-conscious consumers.

Style vs Substance

While visual appeal is often the main driver behind a consumer’s decision to specify a designer radiator, it’s vital that installers don’t let their customers sacrifice performance for aesthetics. Irrespective of how good a radiator looks, if the heat output is poor, it won’t deliver long-term customer satisfaction – which could ultimately reflect badly on you, as the installer.

So how can you avoid this scenario? It’s all about understanding what’s beneath a radiator’s surface. Thanks to investment in next-generation heating technology, some feature radiators on today’s market are so efficient that they can replace standard steel panel radiators like-for-like, with virtually no loss in performance. For instance, replacing a QRL T22 hi-lo Round Top panel radiator with a Design by QRL H22s Slieve feature radiator of the same type and size would deliver a difference in output of just 3%. This is even more impressive given that QRL’s T11 and T22 hi-lo Compact and hi-lo Round Top radiators are the only ones to be verified by the Energy Saving Trust – and deliver the highest heat outputs of all the selected products that were reviewed.

Design by QRL H22s Slieve feature radiator

Design by QRL H22s Slieve feature radiator available from Plumbmaster and Haldane Fisher Bathroom Showrooms

It’s also important to think about how different colours and finishes might affect performance, and advise customers accordingly. Towel radiators, for example, are a popular choice for bathrooms – but many models are designed to do little more than warm towels, and won’t provide adequate space heating. Luckily, this doesn’t have to be the case if you choose your finish wisely. For instance, chrome finishes actually have an insulating effect – causing a drop in wattage, and therefore performance. Simply choosing the same towel warmer with a white finish could provide around 50% more heat.

There for the taking

With consumer appetite for designer radiators continuing to soar over the coming years, the commercial opportunity for installers who know the market is plain to see. The challenge is to balance customers’ aesthetic vision with your own technical expertise to deliver a solution that ticks all the boxes. Those who get this balance right will have a recipe for long-term success on their hands.


For more information please contact your local Plumbmaster Branch.