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5 Vertical Designer Radiators to Enhance Your Decor and Comfort (2021 Guide)
There’s nothing quite like a vertical radiator to add that designer touch to your home décor. But which should you choose? If you’re ready to dive into some comparison shopping, start with today’s article. Below, we review five of the best vertical designer radiators, each selected for their aesthetics, general heating performance, and overall value for money.
And once you’re done checking out our product reviews, stick around for our FAQs section. We address the most common concerns that confound the process of selecting the best radiator for your home and budget.
Best Vertical Designer Radiators
In a crowded marketplace, it’s not enough to know that you want a designer radiator. After all, they come in all shapes and sizes, with each variant producing significantly different heating results. You want to know your investment is sound from the bottom up, offering exceptional heating at an affordable upfront and long-term price. Plus, you want it to complement and elevate the room it occupies!
We hear you, and we’ve gone to the trouble of doing some comparison shopping for you. According to our research, these are the five best vertical designer radiators to justify your investment in luxury heating solutions.
Available in a wide array of configurations, NRG’s line of vertical designer radiators enables you to perfectly meet your heating needs and customise the décor of your room. Not only are they gorgeous as a rule, they’re well-built and durable, backed by an incredible 15-year guarantee.
Regardless of whether you choose the smallest single-column model or max out with the 20-bar double-column radiator, NRG’s styling proves incredibly smart. It takes up the bare minimum floor space, jutting out less than 10 cm from the wall. Meanwhile, its vertical design makes conservative use of your wall space, allowing you a tonne of aesthetic flexibility to position furniture and decorations around either side.
We particularly like the oval columns, which hearken back to the olden days of cast-iron radiators without any of the bulk or tired aesthetic. As far as ovals go, these are quite flat, and you might even mistake the NRG for a panel radiator from a distance. Thus, we declare the NRG vertical oval column radiator to have superior flexibility in elevating the aesthetics of almost any home.
Further adding to the appeal is your choice of white or anthracite finishes for achieving the perfect visual accent.
Compatible with any UK tank-fed or combination boiler, NRG’s radiators are a natural extension of your central heating system. Constructed from premium 1.5mm mild steel, these radiators feature low thermal conductivity, which means they’ll retain heat quite well–even after you’ve cut the thermostat down.
The smallest NRG model features four bars in a single-row configuration, imposes upon just 1600 x 236mm of wall space, and outputs around 2000 BTU. On the other end of the spectrum, NRG offers a massive 20-bar, double-row model which is a little taller and takes up a just over double the amount of horizontal space (1800 x 590mm); it puts out an incredible 11480 BTU!
All totalled, there’s a staggering array of 15 models to choose from, allowing you to perfectly match your NRG radiator to the size of your room…
…Well, almost perfectly. The one real hindrance you’ll encounter purchasing from NRG is the lack of published BTU numbers across their vast line. But keeping in mind the max and min above, you can perform some simple back-of-envelope math to accurately estimate which is the model for you. It’s an annoyance, but shouldn’t stop you from considering this excellent line of radiators.
The only other words of wisdom we have to offer is to ensure the mounting brackets are on the wall tight. NRG radiators have a bit of heft to them, so you’ll want to ensure a solid connection to the wall for safety. But of course, you’ll probably be hiring a professional to handle installation anyway, who should be keeping a competent eye out for this sort of thing.
Sometimes all it takes is a simple addition to a tried and true formula to make something truly special. And West Midlands-based Elegant Showers have a real winner with their mirrored vertical oval column rad.
Elegant lists this as an oval column radiator, but the eccentricity of each bar is so flat that it almost feels like a panel radiator. This only adds to the overall aesthetic, which layers a 1800 x 129mm mirror between two sets of three bars.
There’s a satisfying blend of angularity and smooth curves that defies simple categorization; it’s definitely modern, but there’s a hint of Art Deco and even mid-mod that pops to life in the right home. Adding to the Elegant’s flexibility is the choice of white or black finish for the columns. The mirror, of course, is functional as well as decorative–opening up the room with an expansive feeling.
Overall, Elegant’s mirrored column radiator measures 1800 x 500mm, and protrudes less than 10cm from the wall. Sadly, there is not a double-column variant that ships with the mirror, so despite its broadly appealing visual flair, there is a hard limit for what size room it can adequately heat.
Elegant are a scrappy UK-based company producing heating solutions for the domestic market; they know their trade well, and it shows. Their designer mirror column radiator produces a respectable 2745 BTUs, and is compatible with all standard tank-fed and combi boiler central heating systems.
It’s worth mentioning that if you can live without the mirror, there are other models available from Elegant to fit a wider variety of room sizes.
Every Elegant radiator consists of the same high-quality low-carbon steel, which heats up quickly and disperses a gentle heat with impressive evenness. In terms of safety, Elegant have tested their radiators at up to 10 bar of pressure, proving essentially leak and rupture proof with no emission of harmful VOCs. And, whether you choose white or black finish, rest easier knowing your purchase is highly resistant to corrosion and discolouration.
With their mirrored column rad, Elegant Showers have produced a heating solution that doubles as a work of art. We’re not kidding; this one is a show stopper, and so long as your room is around 55 sq. ft., you’ll find it works to elevate virtually any décor.
It comes at an affordable price point, yet boasts superior build quality. And, if you value purchasing your goods from a UK-based company, Elegant sweeten the deal even further with a best-in-class 25-year warranty. It’s hard to do better than that!
Please note, you must resist the urge to mount this horizontally. While it may complete the look you’re after, it won’t function efficiently or safely. Fortunately, you do have the option to floor- or wall-mount it, so you’ve got that going for you, which is nice.
Milano are a reputable brand with over 30 years in the heating industry. It’s clear they’ve brought that experience to bear with their Aruba line of designer vertical radiators. Featuring attractive flattened-oval columns, the Aruba offers flexible aesthetics and superior performance, easily justifying its modest price point.
From a distance, the Aruba looks for all the world like a flat panel radiator. Upon closer inspection, however, you see the subtle curves which lend this designer radiator its elegant cachet. While this isn’t necessarily unique to the Aruba, it’s the degree to which they’ve flattened the oval that really makes it stand out.
As with any vertical radiator, the Aruba will indeed stand out in your room due to its proportions. However, we appreciate that it doesn’t have the visual weight of true panel heaters, which tend to dominate the space they occupy. Instead of a single focal point which commands attention, it is more of a complement to elevate existing décor.
Moreover, you can get just the right accent but choosing between a semi-gloss white finish or a matte anthracite. Both have identical performance and are equally durable, so it’s entirely up to your personal preference which to get.
Made of 1.5mm premium mild steel, Milano were able to achieve the delicate contours of the Aruba with high precision, without the excessive cost normally associated with designer radiators. What’s more, this is a great material for thermal retention, which is your science teacher’s way of saying it holds heat well. Thus, your Aruba will be extremely efficient while producing copious amounts of gentle, natural-feeling heat.
Just how much heat is produced is a product of which size you opt for. There are five models on offer, ranging from 1400 x 236mm up to 1400 x 590mm. The smallest four-bar Aruba produces 1737 BTUs; the largest double-row model sports a whopping 20 radiator columns for a total output of 6581 BTU.
We also love the quality of the powder coated finishes, which wear extremely hard without losing their lustre. The semi-gloss hardly carries smudges, while the matte anthracite is easily rid of dust with a quick wipe-down. In either case, it’s clear Milano were shooting for minimal maintenance.
As with any large vertical radiator, we recommend you hire a plumber to install your Aruba if you lack the expertise or manpower to do it yourself with confidence. Not only is this the best way to avoid damage and ensure efficient usage, but it is the easiest way to get Milano to honour their incredible guarantee.
Indeed, you’ll want that warranty intact, as it’s good for 20 years! Where might you be in two decades, how might your life have developed and changed? Now, compare that range of possibility against the absolute certainty that your modest initial investment in the Aruba will still be dutifully producing the heat you need to stay comfortable and warm.
The included fittings are solid, so it’s really only user error which could prevent a proper installation from taking place. And with Milano’s superior workmanship and extensive manufacturing experience, the Aruba should prove highly reliable throughout its service life.
If mirrors aren’t your thing but you’ve just gotta have that Elegant styling, then rejoice for the standard oval column variant! This is the same radiator in most meaningful ways, but beefed up for enhanced output. Moreover, it showcases Elegant’s incredible column design front and centre.
Once again, we see the same almost-flat oval panels as on Elegant‘s mirrored model. We absolutely love this look, and believe that it is the most flexible shape to match the décor of the widest range of homes.
Measuring 590mm across, the Elegant installs neatly alongside any doorway, at the end of the hallway, or wherever you’ve got a bit of vertical space going to waste. The piping hides behind the ten bold oval panels, presenting a futuristic, almost-platonic façade. Matched with some minimalist valves, and you could well create the optical illusion of your radiator hovering in midair.
While there’s only one choice of colour finish, it is fortunately a good one. Elegant have used a brilliant white, high gloss finish which practically simmers like a mirage, reflecting the light off its subtle curves in a stunning fashion. It not only looks great, but wears hard, ensuring your precious centrepiece stays looking the business even after years of use.
And indeed, the Elegant is made for constant usage. Made of high-grade low-carbon steel, it heats up fast but only lets the heat go slowly. So whether you intend to use it with a thermostatic valve to turn on and off as needed, or you want it to act as a direct extension for your central heating, you’ll find it performs its role efficiently.
What’s more, the heat produced is gentle and constant, avoiding burning odours and allergens being kicked into the air. It’s the kind of feeling you get on a warm spring day with the sun lazily filtering through the conservatory window; rather than being blasted by a furnace.
But, gentle as the Elegant may be, it does put out considerable heat. Their vertical designer radiator comes in two sizes, 1600mm and 1800mm tall, putting out between 3500 BTU and 4500 BTU.
Worried about your high mains pressure? Don’t be, the Elegant designer vertical radiator is safety rated up to 10 bar. And no matter what type of central heating system you have (tank-fed, combi, etc.), the Elegant slots in perfectly.
As far as designer radiators go, this one is pretty heavy. Thus, you’ll need a couple of hands to get it installed properly; though we always recommend you hire a professional if you at all doubt your DIY ability.
Despite the heft, Elegant should be commended for their expert packaging. There are very few complaints of radiators arriving damaged in no small part due to the padding and sturdy boxes used. Sure, Elegant will replace your rad if you’ve got complaints upon arrival, but it’s nice to know they’ve taken pains to minimise that possibility.
And on the matter of guarantees, Elegant once again wows us with a 25-year warranty to back your purchase.
We swear we’re not just cheesing our list of the best designer vertical radiators by including so many entries from a company literally named Elegant! But, they simply have the goods to fit the bill. And, their flat panel column radiator is another worthy addition to their family of outstanding designer rads.
As a bit of a departure from our previous recommendations from Elegant, this time we’ve got an all-chrome model which is guaranteed to turn a few heads. It features a high-polish finish which is surprisingly resilient against the build-up of grease, dust and dirt.
Perhaps more importantly, Elegant didn’t cut corners on the plating process, yielding a durable finish which will withstand scratches, bumps, and abrasions. This is not only important for maintaining the phenomenal good looks of this designer vertical radiator, but for staving off corrosion.
We also like the chrome in conjunction with the overall form of this radiator; its vertically orientated, flat-panels can actually be used as a mirror, albeit one segmented by the four or six columns. Sure, you probably won’t be doing your makeup in front of the radiator, but it will help to open up the room and make it feel a bit bigger while itself taking up only a modest amount of space.
In terms of pure performance, flat panels are not quite as effective as their oval counterparts. This is primarily to do with the reduced surface area, but then again that’s a tradeoff for a thinner radiator. Technical nitpicking aside though, Elegant have still managed to produce a highly effective line of designer radiators to elevate both the aesthetics and comfort of any room.
There are three models on offer, with output ratings ranging from 1900 – 3500 BTU. Being of low carbon steel, each Elegant works well to retain heat, slowly dissipating it evenly from top to bottom. It doesn’t belch fire like some others on our list, but it is a comfortable warmth to augment your central heating system. This material also makes for a radiator which is quite efficient, running you just pennies per week with near constant usage.
In terms of construction, Elegant leaves nothing to be desired. Elegant have also tested the internal pressure tolerance to 10 bars, meaning you don’t have to worry about spikes and changing weather wearing out your radiator from within.
We can’t say much which hasn’t been said before about Elegant, but it’s worth repeating how exceptionally attractive their designer vertical radiators are. If you’re looking for a mirrored surface to open up the room while filling it with warmth, their chrome flat panel rad is a must-have.
And, as with all premium Elegant heating solutions, this model ships with a 25-year warranty, arriving expertly packaged.
Vertical Designer Radiators FAQs
Can I fix a vertical column rad horizontally?
Sadly, this is not recommendable for a number of reasons. For one, your radiator works by rushing water through its interior. This internal piping counts on gravity acting in the proper direction (which is to say, straight down) to function correctly–if at all.
If this process happens out of balance, you run the risk of bursting or cracking your radiator at best. At worst, you risk damage to your central heating system, which is doubtless more expense than you want to deal with.
Does it matter if I install my designer radiator backwards?
In almost all cases, yes. Before installing your radiator, take a look around the piping. There should be either a stick or engraving telling you which side is the inlet, and which is the outlet.
Hooking your radiator up in reverse would make damage likely. And even without damage, you’ll still have a non-functioning radiator. This is because the internal workings include restrictors, which force the water to go in a specific direction. Hooking the piping up contrary to the intended motion will absolutely result in a non-functional unit.
Is professional installation required for column radiators?
If you’ve got the DIY chops, manpower, and tools to handle a radiator install, it’s not particularly difficult to fit your unit. After all, most manufacturers of luxury rads will include all the hardware you need to affix the radiator to the wall. And, you’ve probably already got the valves left over from your old unit. Make sure you’re aware of where the pipe centres of your new unit are, and where they need to be to slot into your central heating system.
But, if any of this is not the case, you really owe it to yourself to hire a professional. This is especially true if you’re doing a brand-new install of a radiator into a position where there wasn’t one previously. A plumber or heating engineer will know just how to set things up for optimal usage and a longer service life. Moreover, manufacturers are quickly to honour the terms of their warranties when you can prove the installation wasn’t faulty.
Is it safe to decorate around my radiator?
Absolutely! In fact, there is an entire industry for radiator covers. These transform your radiator into useable space, usually enclosing them in some decorative cabinetry.
Of course, radiator covers leave some space around the rad itself. Generally speaking, 4 inches is considered a good margin. This way, the heat has some time to disperse, and won’t wilt and warp the materials around it.
This means you can safely mount mirrors and other wall decorations nearby to your radiator. Just be smart about leaving some space for the sake of safety and aesthetics alike!
Obviously, you’ll want to keep lightweight, flammable objects away from uncovered radiator columns. Most designer rads won’t get hot enough on the surface to ignite curtains; but it’s best to hedge against the rare corner case where fire can occur.
Keep in mind that plants will have varying tolerances to heat. The nice thing about radiant heat is it won’t dry out the air and soil nearly as quickly. Physically, it’s much more akin to the sun’s rays than an electric space heater, and thus friendlier to house-plant growth.
Do column rads give more heat than other types?
It’s probably better to say they give a different type of warmth to other heaters. The key to understanding radiator functionality is heat retention. Here’s a short physics lesson:
Essentially, radiators hook up to your central heating system, which forces warm water through your rad’s piping. The piping captures and transfers heat into the metal of the columns or fins, which are made of a heat-retaining material.
Because the columns hold onto that heat, they’re slow to release it. Thus, over time a significant amount of thermal energy will build throughout the full mass of the radiator columns. Rather than emanating heat from a single electric heating element or fan, the entire radiator becomes a heat source. Moreover, the disperses into the air more or less evenly across the entire surface of the radiator.
That means, once your column rad is up to its operational temperature, the feeling of heating in the room will be more complete. Instead of a directional blow that leaves cold spots, the entire room slowly fills with a natural, gentle warmth.
Because there’s no fire or super-hot electrical heat source, radiators don’t dry out the air or burn off dust and debris. This is a godsend to allergy sufferers, and contribute to an overall healthier indoor air quality.
Keep in mind that radiator materials can differ greatly. Cast iron is extremely slow to gain and lose heat, but unparalleled for long-term efficiency. Aluminium, on the other hand, is highly conductive, heating up quickly and putting out a more intense radiant heat.
Choose the former for your living room or bedroom, since you will pretty much always want those rooms to be comfortable and warm. Choose the latter for a cloakroom, where it’s necessary to defrost fingers and toes following a wintry foray.
Are column rads efficient?
We’ve already sort of answered this one, but let’s elaborate on “yes” a bit. Were you to run an electric heater alongside a radiator and compare energy consumption, the radiator would prove more efficient by an order of magnitude.
Even when you compare to similar systems like hydronic plinth heaters, radiators win the efficiency contest due to their size, which allows for greater heat retention.
Of course, where traditional radiators lose out is during intermittent usage. It takes a lot of energy (and time) to fire up your central heating system from cold, then to have that system transfer heat into your radiator columns.
If you only need heat for a few minutes at a time, this is neither an effective nor efficient usage of your radiator. In such cases, you’re better off with an electric heater, which heats up instantly. Yes, it’s less efficient long-term, but uses significantly less power to fire up than your combi or tank-fed heating system in short bursts.
There are no silver bullets in heating; always match the tool to the task!
If you’re still reading this far down the page: well done! You now have a broader understanding of how radiators work, which designers are producing the most attractive vertical column radiators, and how to assess your aesthetic and heating needs. We’ve spent a good amount of time reviewing the top five vertical designer rads, but we encourage you to conduct your own market research with our notes as points of comparison.
Which designer column radiator suits your fancy? Do you have a model you can recommend that our list did not include? What other advice do you have for other shopping for stylish vertical rads? Leave us a comment below, we love to hear from you!