So why does size matter so much? Fortunately, there is an exact science out there to help answer this question: it's called the British Thermal Unit (BTU). The British Thermal Unit is the measurement that weighs up the amount of energy required to warm a given space. With a quick calculation, the right sized radiator can then be selected, giving you the confidence to know that the space, in this case the hallway, will be warm and cosy. If you buy a radiator that is considered too big for the area, you'll soon find you are paying for heat that is not needed — a waste of your hard-earned cash.
Size made simple with the BTU calculator
Greatrads.co.uk has an easy-to-use BTU calculator here. It's an essential tool if you don’t want the hallway to be stiflingly hot, or a radiator that is not up to the job. So it's important that the BTU output is correct. The BTU calculator, with the user's help, takes into consideration the number of windows in the hallway, and the type of windows, i.e. single or double glazing.
The calculator will also ask whether the room is exposed to the elements or if it is well sheltered. Hallways are often drafty spaces and may lose heat at a much quicker rate compared to other rooms. Everything is taken into consideration to ensure your purchase is the right one.
Results given by the calculator will account for a margin of error, so expect a 'from-and-to' set of figures. These two sets of figures can then be used to help in the selection process.
Different styles of radiator can also have an impact. For instance, the same sized column radiator may have a different output compared to a 'flat-panel' style. The BTU figure of any given rad will be found on the unit itself, so you really can't go wrong.
A standard radiator fed by a gas boiler will differ from an electric radiator. Electric radiators are becoming increasingly popular as their output is delivered with 100% efficiency. This is opposed to a gas-fed radiator, where a lot of heat may be lost on its travels via pipes under the floorboards. A gas boiler, unless serviced regularly, can become inefficient over time.
Electric radiators are also easier to install because there is no need to worry about the moving/replacing of pipework. But be aware, electricity units are a lot more expensive. So, it is a case of swings and roundabouts.
Style and aesthetics
The style of the hallway radiator has to fit with the space. It needs to be aesthetically pleasing to the eye. After all, those all-important first impressions from visitors matter. Should you choose a column or flat panel, vertical or horizontal? Should the style be traditional, period-style, modern, or maybe a retro style? Radiators these days are not only functional but can double up as a feature, even a focal point given a relatively small space like a hallway. So make it eye-catching.
Another thing to consider is the material used in the radiator's construction and finish. Do you want stainless steel? Aluminium? Chrome? And of course the colour of the radiator. Often a neutral tone such as black, white, anthracite, but not necessarily. There is an array of colours out there to suit any interior and any colour tone. The freedom is in your hands.
Purchasing and fitting radiators can be a significant cash out-going. But they are usually there for the duration. It's not often, if at all, that they will be changed in the time you own the home. It's not like switching a car every five years. So it has to be right the first time.
It doesn't really matter whether you begin with choosing a style and colour over size as long as the two considerations marry up. The temptation to choose style first may be a weighty one and more exciting than choosing a size, but just remember that size is a vitally important factor. If it's not right, you could be throwing money down the drain in the long-term, or you could end up with a cold space if your choice of size is too small.