Nicola Martin, Sales Manager at RadiWarm® makes the case for pipeless radiators.
Homeowners are choosing modern pipeless radiators for their projects because they like their flexibility, low maintenance and cost-effectiveness. For a long time they were used where extending the main heating system would be too disruptive or expensive. But now, homeowners are installing them as the main heat source and this is for many reasons, not just in response to the 2025 cut-off for new gas installations. Pipeless electric radiators are a plug-and-play solution, mounted on brackets and simply plugged into any standard electric socket. They arrive fully sealed and need no bleeding, draining or topping up is required. Many on the market are water-filled creating the same comfortable, non-drying heat as traditional gas-fired wet systems that most people are used to.
Most brands are available in a variety of heights and lengths. Look out for ones with low height options of 400 mm which are ideal for conservatories with low walls. Most manufacturers offer guides for self-builders to choose the right radiator size for each type and size of room and the best suppliers also provide the expected KW output for each size. A call to the manufacturer is a good idea for more bespoke guidance.
It is easy to add more radiators in the future; only an electric socket is needed so there will be no digging up floorboards to install new heating on a further extension.
When not to use
Versatile though they are, pipeless radiators would not be used if wall space is at a premium or if the only possible location is under a window, which is not ideal for energy efficiency. Although they can be mounted on internal walls, if necessary using additional load-bearing discs, they are probably not suitable for the thinnest internal walls. The large size radiators, usually water or silica filled, are quite heavy.
There is a choice of technologies and system functionality for controlling pipeless radiators, with different price points. The flexibility and responsiveness of the best systems mean that individual or groups of radiators are only used when and where the homeowner chooses. This makes a real difference to their electricity bills.
Here is a good example. A 7-day programmable wireless battery-powered thermostat and timer device are RF linked to each radiator in the home so heating can be controlled, zoned and operated from a central control point. Normally in a two-storey house, one controller is needed downstairs and a separate one upstairs. These systems are familiar to many people who have had gas central heating. More advanced is a Smart Controller using a gateway that plugs into an existing home router which means the radiators can be independently and remotely controlled from a web-based app on a smartphone or tablet. The app is a powerful and easy-to-use energy manager with charts showing things like energy consumption patterns over time, the heating status of each zone so that adjustments can be made instantly. Some of these control systems offer up to 10 zones, so they could easily cope with any future extension.
To cover a whole house, a Smart Controller retails around £230.
These radiators typically have an internal miniature boiler, pump and thermostat with software to reach and maintain ambient temperature. So once a room reaches the pre-set temperature, the smart heating software will switch to eco-saving mode to maintain it, only needing to use electricity again when required. For the duration of the programme, it will probably consume electricity for only 1/3 of that time and then is switched off for the remaining 2/3 of the period.
There are also entry-level pipeless radiators. They are the cheapest option and are individually controlled with their own in-built timer and thermostat. They do not offer zoning or the sophisticated programmability of the other solutions but they certainly deliver efficient, comfortable heat just as well.