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Category: House and Home

Finding where to place a radiator in a room can be tricky, so in this guide we are going to outline how to go about placing radiators to get the best out of them.

In short, you have three main considerations:

  • Physical restrictions
  • Room design
  • Safety and any building regulations (for example, with electric radiators)

Physical restrictions

To start with there are obvious physical restrictions around placing a radiator. The wall has to be big enough to hold the size of radiator needed for your room. When you take into account the placement of doors and windows, this can seriously limit the options of where to place a radiator.

See what size radiator you need for the size of your room using this handy calculator.

On top of this, if you are fitting gas central heating, you need to think about any problems you will have getting the water pipes to the radiator. Of course, you can run pipes anywhere in a room, but you will have some repair work to do if you run them under floorboards and in wall cavities. If you have a concrete floor you need to consider if you really want to go to the expense of chasing-in the pipes, otherwise you will have visible pipes or boxes in your room.

If you are choosing electric radiators, you will need to have a fused socket nearby, or be prepared to have one fitted. You don’t want cable trailing everywhere – it is both dangerous, and unsightly. Many new radiators are fitted with only about a metre of cable, to avoid this problem.

Traditionally, radiators have been placed under windows, or on an outside facing wall. This was because single-glazed windows and exterior walls were not well insulated. They would cool the air in the room which would sink, causing a draught. Placing the radiator in these locations was meant to offset this effect by utilising convection currents.

These days most houses have double glazing, and well-insulated walls, so this effect is much less pronounced. So, if you have a modern, well insulated home, you are free to place a radiator elsewhere – though under a window is still not a bad idea, as you’ll tend to have space on this wall.

Room design

Next, you want to avoid blocking the radiator as much as possible – you won’t get the best out of a radiator if you plan on pushing a sofa right up against the wall where the radiator is meant to be fitted. This is where room design is crucial.

Think about your furniture and where it is going to be positioned in the room, and then see where is the best location to place a radiator – allowing for physical restrictions.

For example, in a room such as a bedroom, the placement of your bed and wardrobes is crucial and will limit your options. However it is inefficient and unsafe to have a heater of any kind next to a bed.

Modern style radiator

Think about the design of a room when planning where to place a radiator – Image courtesy of the Economy Radiator Company

Of course, most electric radiators have a specific recommended space to be kept free around them to meet safety and efficiency requirements. Make sure you read the manufacturer’s instructions if you have bought, or are planning on fitting, one of these radiators.

Safety and building regulations

In addition to the restrictions mentioned above certain types of radiators have restrictions for specific rooms – particularly for electric radiators in bathrooms and kitchens.

In order to be safe and to comply with the standards for electrical installation in the UK, electric radiators must only be fitted in certain locations in bathrooms.

On top of this, any electric sockets have to be fitted at least three metres away from a bath, basin or shower.

These safe locations are determined by the IET (the Institute of Engineering and Technology; formerly the Institution of Electrical Engineers – the IEE) and its Wiring Regulations. The locations – or zones – relate to the distance from sources of water and the level of protection an electrical item has against water ingress.

When you buy an electric radiator, (or an electric heater of any kind) it should tell where it is safe to use, and should have information about ‘electric zones’.

The electric zones as determined by the IET Wiring Regulations (17th Edition) are as follows:

Zone 0: Inside the bath or shower

Equipment that can be used: SELV (separated or safety extra low voltage – max 12V) with a minimum rating of IPX7 (protected against immersion for 30 minutes at 1 metre).  This would include electric showers for instance.

Zone 1: Around the bath or shower, up to a height of 2.25m from the floor and at a radius of 1.2m from the water outlet.

Equipment that can be used:  Minimum rating of IPX4 (protected against splashing), provided there is no likelihood of water jets being used for cleaning – in which case IPX5 (protected against water jets) equipment must be used. Some lighting falls into this category, but you could not place an electric radiator here.

Zone 2: Area beyond zones 0 and 1: 0.6m horizontally and up to a height of 2.25m from the floor.

Equipment that can be used: A minimum rating of IPX4 (protected against splashing water), with the same provisions as zone 1.

Although the guidelines do not specifically refer to wash basins, the area around a basin, within a 0.6m radius of any tap, is considered as zone 2. This is the area where some electric heaters can be used – check the manufacturers instructions.

Anywhere outside zones 0, 1 and 2: Electrical equipment that can be used: No IP rating is required unless water jets are likely to be used, in which case a minimum of IPX5 must be used.

For full guidance, please consult the current IET Wiring Regulations. Find out more about the IET and its Wiring Regulations over at electrical.theiet.org.

Visit the Economy Radiator Company’s website for useful guides for fitting electric radiators and more information.


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