Single vs Double Radiator: Which Do You Need?

Single & double radiator diagrams

Here at Great Rads, we understand that we have a great deal of knowledge on heating products – and it’s easy for us to slip into jargon from time to time. However, when you think of a ‘standard’ radiator and go to google one, we probably pop up on your search engine results. As you browse through our products, you’ll find designer radiators, column radiators, towel radiators and underfloor heating: but what about those ‘normal’ heaters you’re used to seeing and recognise already? Yes, we’ve got those too.

The traditional white horizontal radiators that can be found in most homes in the UK remain by far the most popular type today, and we’ve got plenty of them in stock. Convector radiators fill up with hot water in an internal tank, and disperse the temperature of this water through its external (usually metal) panels. As the hot air from the convection radiator rises, convection currents carry it through the room to heat it to an ambient, warm or desired temperature. This heat output is, in the UK, measured in BTUs (British Thermal Units).

What is the difference between single and double radiator panels?

When you look to buy a radiator, you’ll often be asked if you’d prefer the model with single or double panels. But what is the difference between single and double panel radiators? Well, put simply: heating performance.

The external panel of a radiator is the long metal ‘wall’ type tank of the appliance, which holds the water inside. The longer the panel, the wider the surface area there is for the radiator to emit heat from.

Originally, all radiators were flat-fronted with a single panel. However, as it became more apparent than an increased surface area would also increase heat output, manufacturers began to introduce the option of having a second panel (a double radiator panel). Rather than lie one panel on top of the other, which could stifle the hot air, convector fins were introduced. Convector fins are the metal zig-zag shaped panels that sit to the back of single panel radiators and to the middle of double panel radiators. Convector fins being zig-zag shaped allows for maximum surface area, and when doubled up, increases it further. The fins are welded to the main tank and heated up by the water within.

When it comes to weighing up single vs double radiators for your home, it’s worth considering the differences. These are:

  • Heat performance – double radiators are able to heat a larger space and faster
  • Energy costs – as double radiators are larger, they do cost slightly more in heating bills
  • Size – double radiators are slightly larger, so for small spaces, a single may be a better fit.

All of this information may lead you to believe that double radiators are just newer models, but that’s not strictly true. So, are single radiators better than double? If not, why do they still exist? Well, as property prices soar, more of us than ever live in smaller homes and don’t have the space or need for high-performance heating. Whether a single or double radiator is right for you is completely based on your individual circumstances.

How to replace a single radiator with a double radiator

If your property already has single radiators but you’d prefer doubles, you can replace a single radiator with a double. However, there are some a few things to consider first:

  • Space – does your room have the space for a larger radiator?
  • Boiler capacity – a higher performance radiator will affect your overall central heating system, so you must be sure that your boiler is up to the job
  • Infrastructure – does the existing pipework line up and fit with a larger radiator?
  • Bracket sizing – double radiators usually have larger brackets than singles, so you may need to purchase new accessories if they’re not provided with your new radiator.

To replace a single radiator with a double, simply remove the single and its brackets, install the larger brackets and install the new radiator as directed. If you need help with the new radiator, contact a plumber or heating engineer for guidance.

There are still numerous types of radiators on the market, so no matter your budget, room size or heating requirements, there will be something for you. If you’d like to discuss the ins and outs of sizing, single radiators vs double radiators, or non-traditional radiator options, get in touch! The Great Rads team have a wealth of experience and knowledge in heating and are always happy to chat.

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