Best Electric Towel Rail For The Money (Reviews)
Electric towel rails are increasingly seen as a necessity, rather than a luxury. Indeed, they provide much-needed warming in the bathroom–which is historically a cool spot in the house the central heat has trouble reaching. But more importantly, a nice, warm towel right out of the bath or shower will make you feel like royalty! After all, who doesn’t appreciate a bit of pampering?
Today, we review the best electric towel rails on the market. We’ve selected a good representation between electric, central heat, and dual fuel units across a variety of price points to fit any need. Further down the page, you’ll find a short buyer’s guide to educate you on the key features of a great towel rad.
Ready for toasty warm towels? Read on!
The best electric heated towel rail
Believe it or not, there are many factors to consider when selecting a towel warmer. Below, we review the best all-electric, dual-fuel, or thermostatic wand-compatible towel rads for your bathroom and budget.
WärmeHaus is widely regarded as one of the best in the heating industry, and their Juva line of electric towel rails is a large reason why. Most are initially drawn to Juva’s elegant aesthetics, featuring flat rails in white, chrome, or sand grey. But form is dutifully met by function, and you’ll delight in its exceptional heat output.
Now, there are multiple of units to fit any size of bathroom. For the average consumer, however, we recommend the 950x500mm model, which features 1456 BTU heat output. Regardless of which size you choose, Juva will get piping hot to the touch (this is a good thing, just take care to avoid prolonged contact).
When fitted, each model projects less than 10cm from the wall. Yes, everything needed for installation comes in the box, including the fixing pack, plugs and even vents. However, Juva integrates with your central heat system, and thus requires the services of an experienced plumber. Alternatively, you can convert Juva to dual fuel, and enjoy efficient warmth in any season.
WärmeHaus meets all manufacturing standards including BS EN 442, and guarantees their products with an extremely generous 10-year warranty. Juva has passed pressure testing up to 10 bar, though you’ll never break 7 bar in operation. Depending on which model you buy, you’ll enjoy anywhere from one to four towel slots, and up to 19 bars for maximum radiant surface area. Truly, Juva is a cut above the rest, with minimalist styling and outstanding performance.
Another product line from WärmeHaus, Bergen offers many of the same features as Juva, but with unique styling and optional bells & whistles. First, there’s a variety of sizes (from 700x400mm to 1800x500mm), each with progressively more heat output to a maximum of 2194 BTU @ 800W. While this is standard fare, you can also choose between straight and curved aka “gebogen” rails. The latter is perhaps more elegant, but it is correspondingly more expensive. On the other hand, the straight rails offer ambidextrous installation, allowing you to install the plug on the left or right side as needed.
While we don’t wish to spoil the fun of this list, we’ll also say the Bergen also offers something quite unique: thermostatic control. This rather rare feature is available optionally, but allows you to perfectly dial in the temperature. You never have to worry about burning up your towels or your power bill!
Unlike Juva, Bergen comes pre-filled with glycol solution for superior heat retention and easy installation. As a fully electric unit, it is a bit slow to heat up, but within 45 minutes you’ll have all the toasty warmth you need. We do recommend you hire an electrician to install your Bergen according to IEE safety regulations for bathrooms. Indeed, the 10-year warranty requires professional installation. It may not be fun to suffer the extra cost upfront, but it will pay itself off in the long-run as the guarantee covers both the rails and heating element.
What the Status Portable Aluminium Towel Rail lacks of the pure power found in larger, wall-mounted units, it amply makes up for in terms of flexibility and cost. As a free-standing unit, you can deploy the status absolutely anywhere in the house or caravan, provided an electrical plug is nearby. That means no extra fees to the electrician or plumber for the simple task of drying your towels!
The Status is extremely lightweight, at just 2.2kg; and compact at just under 90cm tall. We wish there was a bit more cable than the included 1m, but that’s easily remedied with an extension. Crucially for some, there’s an illuminated on/off switch, so you never have to guess whether your ladder rad’s doing its job.
Rated at 100W, the Status radiates a gentle heat that will never burn your fingers. True, you won’t rely in it to warm much more than your towels or else the smallest of rooms. However, you’ll pay well under 100 quid all-in sans installation fees, plus a mere 3p per hour thereafter.
All in all, you’ll be hard-pressed to find a better budget pick for no-frills functionality than the Status Portable Aluminium Towel Rail.
Another modestly priced electric towel radiator, the Firenze from Real Shopping is an attractive wall-mounted unit to complement any bathroom. Measuring a polite 800x500mm with variable projection between 85-105mm, the Firenze radiates an understated elegance.
Of course, at 300W, it also radiates ample heat! It comes pre-filled with glycerol heat retention fluid, which is slow to heat up but highly efficient and resistant to corrosion. After 25 minutes, you’ll have noticeable warmth; another 20 minutes still provides full-power heating sufficient for most mid-sized bathrooms. There’s no thermostat included, but the Firenze self-regulates at a comfortable 65° C. For even greater efficiency, we recommend you install a timer switch so that it turns off when you don’t need it–though this is entirely optional.
There’s no getting around it: you’ll need to hire an electrician to handle installation. Once you do, however, rest easy knowing the Firenze itself is suitable for use in both Zone 2 and Zone 3. Combined with proper installation, you’ll never have to worry for the safety of your home or family.
What’s more, Real Shopping offers a 5-year guarantee on the rail, plus a 2-year warranty on the heating element–proof they stand by their product as something that will serve you reliably.
The Firenze features 13 tubes, each with a 22mm diameter, arrayed to accommodate two separate towels. It’s not the largest or flashiest towel rail on the market, but for many it will occupy the goldilocks zone of “just right”.
Once again, we present a range of models rather than a single product–this time from Requena. Notably, this line allows you to choose between affordable standard round rails, and more stylish flat ones. The difference isn’t just skin-deep however; comparing flat and standard models of equal dimensions reveals a drastic difference in heat output. This is because the flat rails have significantly more surface area from which to radiate heat.
If it sounds like we’re giving our recommendation to the flat Requena, well we are indeed. However, there’s a much broader array of sizes and power ratings to choose from amongst the standard models. What’s more, they’re significantly cheaper, so you can remain truly faithful to your budget and still get an incredible ladder rad. Models are available in a gorgeous anthracite grey.
Regardless of which you model choose, Requena Heated Towel Rails protrude less than 80mm from the wall. Installation is quite straightforward with excellent instructions and included brackets and fittings.
Though once again, you’ll need to call a qualified plumber to hook your Requena up to your tank-fed or combi heating system. You may even consider adding a thermostat valve, but it’s not strictly necessary. After all, Requena provides ideal temperatures both for drying towels and heating your bathroom–right out of the box.
Editor’s note: be aware that this is not, on its own, an electric towel warmer. However, it can be fitted with an electric heater, and as such it often comes up in searches for electric rads.
Not to be confused with the other similar-sounding entry from Status on this list, the Portable Towel Rail nevertheless shares many features with its larger counterpart. Here again is exceptional energy efficiency at just 3p per hour; plus, superior mobility thanks to its featherweight 2.5kg heft. No expert installation is needed, either–just plug it up and you’re good to go!
Aesthetically speaking, however, Status’s Portable Towel Rail is a world apart from any other we’ve reviewed thus far. Rather than the ladder-like, wall-mounted configuration that is the standard, here we have a single, uniquely serpentine rail. The way it issues forth from its spindly but sturdy base may be too avant-garde for some, but almost everyone can agree on the price.
What’s more, it does a far better job of heating small spaces through radiant heat than its 100W rating would suggest. In fact, some users have reported it runs just a tad too hot, so be sure not to leave your towels on overnight. There’s no thermostat on board, either, but that’s hardly unusual for a towel rail twice as expensive, let alone £25.
We do appreciate the illuminated on/off switch, which will help you avoid mistakenly grabbing it when it’s hot.
Last but not least is the Electric Heated Towel Rail from DuraTherm, which once again offers myriad purchase possibilities. The choice this time is between curved and straight rails (which is mislabelled as “flat”). Unlike previous comparisons between (proper) flat and cylindrical rails, there’s no meaningful difference in BTU output among DuraTherm’s models. Thus, the choice is largely an aesthetic one–though the straight model can be installed with the cable issuing from the left or the right.
Curved vs. straight aside, there’s a further consideration between size: DuraTherm offers 700x400mm @ around 601 BTU, and 1100x500mm @ around 1100 BTU. Both will serve adequately in small-medium bathrooms; though the smaller, 150W model will draw less power if energy consumption is your major concern. The smaller units have a single towel slot and 14 rails, while the larger has dual towel slots and 23 rails. If your family shares a single bathroom, we recommend springing for the larger unit.
So what sets DuraTherm apart? Unlike other pre-filled, all-electric towel rails, this one heats up fast! You can expect to achieve nominal temperatures within 10 minutes, which is a far cry from the 30+ minutes of other brands. Despite the elegant framing, these units are also highly durable workhorses of robust carbon steel construction. DuraTherm even guarantees both rail and electronics with a 10-year warranty.
You’ll need an electrician to install this unit, but once the job is done, you’ll never spare a thought for your trusty DuraTherm. And that’s exactly how it should be!
Shopping guide for electric towel rail radiators
We’ve covered in depth a wide selection of the best towel rads on the market, but our list is by no means utterly exhaustive. If you care to weigh your options further, prepare for an overwhelming number of options.
Fortunately, a glut of choice doesn’t have to lead to analysis paralysis. In our own research, we’ve identified the most pertinent features to consider so you can separate the wheat from the chaff amongst electric towel rails.
How to fit an electric towel rail?
Most people shop with a budget in mind. However, there are often hidden costs beyond a radiator’s price tag. The foremost of these is installation; most wall-mounted electric radiators will require the services of a plumber or electrician. It’s not just for preserving your warranty, either.
Ladder rads often require piping to be built so that hot water may run through the radiator off your combi or tank-fed system. Pre-filled, electric towel rails can forgo such invasive construction to an extent.
However, waterproofing the point at which your radiator draws from the mains is a concern best left to an experienced electrician. Dual fuel radiators may even require the hiring of both types of technician!
Beyond installation, you may wish to add a thermostatic valve to control the amount of hot water running through your rad. Electric radiators similarly benefit from being hooked into timers, which can drastically improve your monthly power bill. While these are optional, the benefits are so great that you’ll often want to tack them on. Neither are a great expense alone, but they can add up alongside install fees.
Maintenance and durability
There’s an old saying: “buy nice or buy twice”. While it’s untrue that you must always max out your budget to walk away happy, cheaping out will cost you in the long term. And, if you spy towel rails seemingly too good for their price point, it’s rather likely the manufacturer has found corners to cut, as well.
Now, there’s only so much that can go mechanically wrong with a metal radiator, right? It depends. Many towel rails feature plastic somewhere on the build, and if it’s at structurally critical points, you should strongly consider how durable the plastic seems. What’s more, pre-filled radiators my use inferior oil which doesn’t fight corrosion. This risk is more difficult to assess in new units, but you can still inquire as to what medium is used. Most manufacturers make it a point to advertise their novel fills, so be wary when they don’t.
Check the joints of the rails. Poor solder joints will have an uneven lustre, and can with time begin to leak. Is the mounting hardware flimsy? It may not hold your heavy radiator adequately, and may fail to disastrous consequence.
Whatever the case, you’ll want to ensure your radiator has a warranty. Some companies will guarantee the rails separately from the heating element, so make sure you know the difference. 1 year is the bare minimum, 5 years is adequate, 10+ is exceptional. Considering how much usage your towel rails will get, you want to make sure the manufacturer stands by their workmanship. After all, it’s often more cost effective to replace the entire unit than repair some of the niche components–which is to say, it isn’t cheap at all.
Getting the right size radiator
British thermal units, or BTUs are the measure of heat output. Perhaps unsurprisingly, there’s a scientific manner of determining how many BTUs you need to comfortably warm your bathroom. You can input your room dimensions into a BTU calculator, or just use the rule of thumb that the average bathroom in the UK requires around 1500 BTUs.
Typically–but not always–heat output correlates to the size of your towel rails. But beyond this, you might select a rad for how many towel slots it has. Of course, it isn’t always the case that larger families have larger bathrooms (and therefor, room for bigger radiators and more towel slots). But just the same, the level of utility a towel rail offers tends to complement the amount of heat it produces. In other words, both factors will generally go hand in hand to best serve the size of your bathroom.
A word of caution
Beware of radiators that get exceedingly hot, regardless of their size. Even small rads can produce proportionately too much heat, browning your towels and burning your fingers. Read lots of user reviews–if something’s gone wrong with the design, someone is almost certain to have angrily reported it.
Central heating vs electric vs dual fuel
There are three types of towel rails, each with their respective benefits and drawbacks:
- Central heating – These integrate with your central heating system, which might be a tank-fed or combi boiler. Energy efficiency is typically quite good, as is the level of warmth they produce. However, central heating rails tend to incur expensive installations, as a plumber must build fittings into your wall. The biggest drawback comes in the summer months when you won’t be running your central heat much, if at all. When the heating’s off, so too will your towel rail be. Some of these units are compatible with thermostatic heating elements and thus retain some utility in the summer. However, they are not as common, nor are they as efficient.
- Electric – These are plug-in radiators in which an electrified heating element warms up a heat-retentive fluid. Electric towel rails are less efficient than their central heating-connected counterparts per capita. However, you can turn them on and off at will (if they have a switch). Furthermore, you can still use electric rads in the summer whilst the central heat’s off. Unfortunately, you won’t be able to dodge technician fees here, either, as the plug must be waterproofed for safety in the bathroom.
- Dual fuel – The best of both worlds with none of the drawbacks. Dual fuel radiators use more-efficient central heating where possible, then switch to electricity in its absence during hot weather. You get year-round towel warming, and lower power bills to boot. The downside? These units tend to be significantly more expensive upfront.
Who doesn’t love a nice, warm towel after a shower? Towel rails not only allow you to pamper yourself a bit, but serve to keep the ambient cold out of your bathroom during the winter months. Today, we’ve reviewed a cross section of the best electric towel rails on the market, each occupying its own consumer niche.
What’s more, we’ve helped you understand, in abstract, what makes a good towel rad so you can comparison shop with confidence.
Do you have any questions or comments about our recommended towel rads?
Any advice to give your fellow readers? Sound off in the comments below.