For as long as there’s been radiators, there’s been radiators with columns. Think back to your youth; chances are whenever you were in a school, a hospital or almost any other large, institutional building, it would be installed with many a column radiator. In the years since, though, time has moved on and, with them the fashions and trends, and (in part) because of this, the humble and original column radiator was eventually seen as old-hat; rather ‘past it’ as a heating device, aesthetically speaking, at least.
Columns were out and, in their place, rectangular, box-shaped, flat-panel units became the norm in new-builds – and, today, the radiator market is positively brimming with choice; available is everything from mirrored radiators to heated towel rails to bench-warmers-cum-radiators. Surely, then, the age of the column radiator has very much passed, right? Not so fast!
A design classic
The reality is that the column radiator – in all its many and various designs nowadays – has staged something of a remarkable comeback in recent years and, while it may not grace the walls of quite so many buildings as it once did, is arguably more popular than it ever was. But why is this? Well, frankly, it’s because it’s a design classic – more than that; it’s a brilliant blending of excellent engineering and iconic aesthetics.
Yes, what makes the column style such an effective radiator design – and why it was the primary radiator design choice for oh-so long – is, well, yes, down to its columns. The fact is what these columns manage to do (despite their usually diminutive height; that is, when you’re talking the classic horizontal column design) is to maximise the unit’s surface area, ensuring it’s bigger than that of a comparably sized flat-panel radiator. And, thus, this maximised, entirely heated surface area can come into contact with as much of the air in a room as possible; effectively then, sharing with the room more of the heat generated by the hot water inside the radiator.
Fair enough, despite new innovation after new innovation in design, it’s hard to beat a comprehensive design classic when it comes to effective and efficient heating (making the most of what your central heating system’s capable of and, therefore, not wasting energy and, potentially, keeping your heating bills down); but, all that said, why should people be turning back to the column radiator design, aesthetically speaking?
Well, believe it or not, it genuinely is true that, over the last decade or so, the column radiator’s resurgence has been as much due to its old-fashioned look as its terrific heat provision. The column radiator’s the stuff of iconoclasm, for sure; and it’s precisely because it’s old-fashioned that it appeals – for those who have something of a hankering for retro interior décor, its throwback look carries a huge a cachet.
Material matters – and more
Now all that’s very well, you may think, but one drawback with the old-school column design surely has to be what it’s traditionally constructed from? That’s because by far and a way the major material used in the making of column radiators was cast-iron. Sure; back in the day, this wasn’t seen as a negative attribute. After all, cast-iron’s a particularly robust, resilient metal, as well as a superb heat conductor; something that surely made it absolutely ideal for radiator manufacturing (in addition to its habit of being able to retain heat for a generous amount of time).
So, where’s the drawback here? Well, as more and more homes were installed with plumbed central heating systems and so more and more radiators became commonplace in these properties, it also became increasingly apparent that cast-iron radiators were far from the easiest heating device to install… because cast-iron is a heavy material, to say the least. For this reason (perhaps as much as any other), as soon as innovations in home heating technology made it possible, steel- and/ or aluminium-radiators became de rigeur in new-build homes.
But, happily enough, this is a drawback for the column radiator no more – because today’s versions are just as much about modern innovation as any newer, more dynamic-looking or minimalist-in-style radiator design. Why? Because today’s column radiators aren’t made from oh-so unwieldy cast-iron; instead, they’re constructed from resilient, robust and nicely heat-conductive but considerably lighter tubular steel.Moreover, in this era of myriad radiator shapes, sizes, styles and designs, you’ll find the market’s bursting with all sorts of variations on the old column radiator look; especially in terms of shape – depending on the dimensions of your room, you’re bound to find a horizontal or vertical column design to fit. Plus, today’s column radiator choice is so wide that your eyes’ll be dazzled by all the colours and finishes available – everything from gleaming chrome to glittering gold and from black and white to anthracite and bright, bold RAL colours in matte paint. So then, frankly, who, truly, could ask for more?