The Complete Radiator Glossary Everyone Needs to See

When it comes to installing radiators, a lot of jargon is thrown around and potential customers don’t know what’s what.

We can all agree that all these engineering terminologies are very confusing and if we are to make a well-informed purchase, it’s best if we can make sense of what these terms mean.

As professional radiator suppliers, Great Rads understands that it can all be a little overwhelming at times, which is often why we end up putting the task off for so long. So, we’ve put together a radiator glossary that will give you a complete snapshot of all the terms used!

Characteristics of a Radiator

  • BTU: In essence, this stands for heat. It’s the industry measurement used to compare the amount of heat produced. Every space in your home has a BTU requirement.
  • Dual Fuel: Dual fuel radiators work alongside the central heating system using gas, or independently using electricity.

Fun Fact: The Story Behind the Term ‘Rad’

'Rad' is short for ‘radiator’ and that’s where Great Rads gets its name from, although we’re pretty sure you probably didn’t need a glossary to work that one out!

Types of Radiators

There are a plethora of options when it comes to choosing the perfect radiator that will cater to your needs. Mentioned below are the various radiator options that you can choose from:

Home Radiators

Essentially, a concave metal panel is filled up with heated water by way of pipes using a central boiler so that it can radiate heat outwards.

Convector Radiators

These are normal radiators that come with convector fins. These fins help increase the BTU. The convector fins are essentially long sheets of metal bent in a zig-zag form and then attached to the rear of the radiator panel. This helps the convector radiator to cover a bigger surface area.

Designer Radiators

A designer radiator is made in a way that it integrates interesting and unique designs that in no way hampers the performance expected in a regular radiator. If you are very particular about the aesthetic appeal of your home or want to improve the interior of your home, then designer radiators are perhaps the best option because their stylish look is as good as its heating prowess.

Heated Towel Rail

A heated towel rail or towel radiators are a compact and low power radiator designed to keep your towels warm. These are great if your home is starved of space and are particularly wonderful during those cold winter mornings post shower.

Underfloor Heating

The home heating solutions that are installed inconspicuously and smartly beneath flooring is referred to as underfloor heating systems. This usually used in bathrooms, but it can also be used to optimally heat an entire room or even house, if that is what is desired.

Materials Used to Make a Radiator


Panels made using aluminium are comparatively lighter, they are quick to heat up, not to mention they give out increased levels of BTU.

Cast Iron

Although heavy, cast iron is available at affordable rates. It sustains heat for extended periods of time but on the other hand, it does take longer to heat up.

Mild Steel or Steel

Like aluminium, steel is a reasonably priced material and is comparatively light. It can be easily produced in bulk and as it is extremely malleable, it can be given various shapes. So these make for great designer radiators as a lot can be done with this material.

Stainless Steel

The benefits of a stainless steel are aplenty. If you take good care of this glossy metal, then it’s bound to last for a long time. It doesn’t stain, it is anti-corrosive, it’s is resistant to impact and it doesn’t have to be repainted.

Radiator Valves


Radiator valves sit astride a home radiator to connect it to the central heating system. It also helps to regulate the temperature output by controlling the flow of water in the pipes.

Thermostatic Valves

Thermostatic radiator valves automatically adjusts to the temperature of a room. The mechanism involved in making these isn’t too complicated either, which makes it maintenance easier.

Manual Valves

Manual radiator valves are the most basic form of radiator valves as they act as a tap that control the flow of water into the radiator. This establishes how much the radiator heats up.

Bleed valves

The bleed valve is found on top of the home radiator and is used to let loose the trapped air that is responsible for causing cold spots.

Installing a Radiator

  • Pipe centres will determine the overall distance to be left between the tappings present on a radiator.
  • Tappings are the threads present on the inner part of the radiator where the valves and other elements will be screwed and fixed.
  • Tails are essentially copper pipes that are affixed to a radiator to help plumb the entire installation.

Maintenance of the Radiator

This is known as radiator bleeding where trapped air is released from the radiator. It is important to release trapped air as it keeps the hot water from reaching its destination atop the radiator, which results in cold spots.

We hope this has given you a little more insight into the complicated (or not so complicated after this) world of radiators. So now that you understand the basics, it’s time to choose which radiator is perfect for your home.

If you still aren’t sure which radiator best fits the requirements of your house, get in touch with Great Rads today.

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