Radiator Buying Guide | Radiator Types Explained | Toolstation

Radiator Buying Guide

Radiator Buying Guide

Looking for the best radiator for your living room, bathroom or kitchen? There’s lots to consider – including the size of the room, the heat output needed, and the style you’re after.

The most common radiator types are single (Type 11), double (Type 22), and double plus (Type 21) steel panel central heating convector models.

Smaller rooms will suit Single Panel radiators – while Double or Double Plus are best for medium to large rooms.

Recently, designer radiators such as dual-fuel and electric-powered towel warmers, and vertical radiators have grown in popularity – offering high-powered heating without sacrificing style.

Convector Radiators

Convector radiators circulate hot water through a tube surrounded by metal convection fins. These fins conduct heat from the tube and create a larger surface area with the surrounding air – allowing them to heat your rooms incredibly quickly.

Here at Toolstation, you’ll find convector radiators in three main types: Single Panel, Double Panel, and Double Panel Plus.

Diagram of a Type 11 Radiator
Diagram of a Type 21 Radiator
Diagram of a Type 22 Radiator

Designer Radiators

Looking for radiators that’ll bring more than just heat to your rooms? Then our statement-making, high-power designer radiators are the perfect choice for you!

At Toolstation, you’ll find everything from designer vertical radiators to towel warmers – all available in a range of styles, colours, powers and sizes to best suit your space.

Ximax Oxford Single Designer Radiator
Ximax Bristol Single Horizontal Designer Radiator
Arlberg Classic 4 Column Volcanic Radiator
Kudox Chrome Flat Ladder Towel Radiator

Radiator Power Sources Explained

Radiator Features


BTU stands for British Thermal Unit. It represents the amount of energy taken to heat a pint of water by one degree fahrenheit. Every radiator has a BTU – with the higher the BTU, the higher the heat output.

Each room in your home needs a different BTU to keep it warm depending on the number and type of windows you have, and the size of the room itself. If you have single glazed windows, you’ll need a higher BTU than double glazed windows. Find out the required BTU for your room using our handy BTU calculator.

Once you know your room’s requirements, you’ll need to find a radiator (or multiple radiators) with the BTU output to match.


Radiators may be an essential part of your home, but that doesn’t mean they can’t complement each room and its style. Our range of radiators – from central heating to designer – come in white, chrome or anthracite.

You can paint radiators with radiator paint or metal paint designed to withstand high temperatures, giving you even more flexibility when designing your space.


The most common material for radiators is steel, which retains heat for a long time even after the radiator is turned off – meaning the room stays toasty for a while.

Aluminium designer radiators are also popular because they conduct heat faster, meaning they heat up rooms quickly.

Radiator Valves

Radiator valves are sold separately to give you freedom to choose how you want to control your heating.

We stock four types of radiator valves: thermostatic, which auto-adjust based on the room temperature; manual, which turn on and off like taps; dual fuel, to heat a radiator using electricity or hot water; and smart valves – allowing you to remotely set temperatures and heating schedules for each radiator from your smart device.

Radiator Keys

Radiator keys are an essential accessory for your central heating radiators, and are primarily used to bleed a radiator of excess air and keep it working at maximum efficiency.

Frequently Asked Questions

  • How hot do radiators get?

    Generally, the surface of a classic hot water or electric-powered radiator is around 70°c to 90°c. You can find Low Surface Temperature (LST) radiators designed to not exceed 43°c – ideal for places such as schools and offices.

  • How much do radiators cost?

    At Toolstation, the most affordable radiators are smaller, thinner single panel radiators from just over £15, up to our larger, luxury models at just under £1700.

  • What are the common radiator types?

    The most common radiators types are steel panel central heating radiators. These often come in single panel (type 11), double panel (type 22), and double panel plus (type 21) varieties.

  • What is the difference between Type 21 and Type 22 radiators?

    Type 21 radiators have steel panels on the front and back side to radiate heat, with a single layer of convection fins in between.

    Whereas Type 22 radiators, have two layers of convection fins in between the front and back panels.

  • What are the best radiators?

    The best radiators depend on your space and your budget, but designer models are often thought of as the “best” because they combine high power with an attractive and modern style.

  • What is BTU?

    BTU stands for British Thermal Unit and represents the energy needed to heat a pint of water by 1°F. Each room has a different BTU requirement, and each radiator has a BTU output.

    The room size, the number of windows, the glazing of the windows, and even which direction the room is facing can impact the BTU needed.

  • How do you calculate BTU?

    Asking yourself ‘what size radiator do I need’? It can be overwhelming with all the options available. The best way to figure out what size radiator you’ll need is by working out the BTU needed in the room. To calculate the rough BTU required, use our handy BTU calculator and fill in the dimensions and features of the room.

  • What is the standard radiator size in the UK?

    At Toolstation, you’ll find a wide range of radiator sizes — especially when you take a look at our luxury and designer models. However, for many of our standard central heating radiators, the sizes range from 600mm to 1200mm in length, and 300mm to 600mm in height.

  • What is the difference between single and double radiators?

    The difference between single and double radiators is a second panel on the back of the radiator which provides extra surface area to push more heat out into the room. Double Panel (Type 22) radiators also have an extra layer of convection fins which makes it thicker — whilst Double Panel Plus (Type 21) radiators have two panels and one layer of fins which makes for a sleeker design.

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