DIY Doctor

Main navigation

Fitting a timer to an electric towel rail

Postby geojay » Fri Jan 16, 2009 12:41 pm

I would like to have my electric towel rail turn on and off at specified times so I plan to fit a timer to it. It's rated 400 watts and is on its own circuit from the consumer unit with a switched fused outlet in a surface mounted box outside of the bathroom.

I plan to do the work myself so need some advice!

Is there anything that I can simply replace the fused / switched outlet with? i.e. a box mounted timer which also provides fuse protection? If I have a separate timer should it go between the fused outlet and the towel rail or between the consumer unit and the fused outlet?

Are there any other issues I should consider?

Rank: Apprentice
Progress to next rank:
Posts: 5
Joined: Fri Jan 16, 2009 12:31 pm


Simply Build It

Postby TheDoctor4 » Fri Jan 16, 2009 6:49 pm

Last year 64% of the questions asked in our forum were answered within our DIY project pages at The project pages are now separated alphabetically and your answers are accompanied by diagrams and the ability to see, and buy, the tools and/or required to complete your project. Use our search box to look for your answer and save a great deal of time and money!
Rank: Project Manager
Posts: 16777215
Joined: Tue Jul 24, 2007 9:12 am
Location: Somerset in the UK in Shepton mallet

Postby ericmark » Fri Jan 16, 2009 9:03 pm

The first point is Part P I am sure someone else will expand and as gardnico1307 says it’s all in Project section so I will leave that.

Electric towel rail should be RCD protected if it is not already RCD protected you may want to do this at the same time.

With the switched fused outlet (FCU) being outside the bathroom I would say this is likely best place for a timer.

You are allowed 3 meters of unprotected cable so you could put timer either side of FCU but I would put it on towel rail side.

Timers have different ratings and you need at least 2 amp some designed for central heating will not be big enough be careful.

Once you work on a circuit you are responsible for the safety of that circuit and it should be inspected and tested and a minor works certificate made out.

I would look for Immersion heater timers as cheap and able to take the power at about £10 for cheap mechanical and £18 for digital you can get cheaper using a socket and plug in timers at less than £2.50 but that means you rely on pins of plug for earths etc and would not be a option I would select although where one needs to combine with other functions one may take that option.

Postby singer » Sat Jan 17, 2009 7:42 pm

There is great emphasis with the introduction of the 17th edition of the regs on complying with manufacturers instructions.
If this towel rail is existing & has been for a while according to the 16th edition there was no requirement to protect it with an RCD UNLESS the manufacturers instructions required otherwise, so do check them for the requirement.

However what WAS required was equipotential bonding within the bathroom, which is a 4mm earth wire linking all exposed metalwork(such as central heating radiator, metal towel rail and all the pipework supplying the bath & wash-hand basin) with the earth terminals in all load bearing fixed equipment within the bathroom( light fitting, shower,downflow heater etc etc) to ensure that no two accessible metal parts have different potentials(voltages) which would result in a potentially lethal current flow through your body.

If this is not existing it will need to be installed as a minimum requirement and cannot be done by yourself, as it is within a room deemed to be a special location and needs a certificate to be issued on completion, which will then need to be notified to the local authority.

A local Part P registered electrician will be able to do this work for you and advise on timeswitch at the same time.
Rank: Ganger
Progress to next rank:
Posts: 59
Joined: Mon Jan 05, 2009 4:47 pm

Display posts from previous
Sort by
Order by

  • DIY How to Project Guides
  • DIY how to tutorial projects and guides - Did you know we have a DIY Projects section? Well, if no, then we certainly do! Within this area of our site have literally hundreds of how-to guides and tutorials that cover a huge range of home improvement tasks. Each page also comes with pictures and a video to make completing those jobs even easier!

  • Related Topics