Low Flow Temperature Radiators: The Next Best Thing

My blog last week covered the basics of standard underfloor heating and this week I thought I would run through the next best option for those households that just can install such a system but want low running costs. This week we’re looking at Low Flow Temperature Radiators. If underfloor heating is not appropriate in your project, then you’ll be considering alternatives. This is especially true in retrofit applications where it does not make financial sense to tear up the floor and take out all the existing radiator plumbing.

Indeed what if the floor construction of your existing home just can’t take the extra weight of underfloor heating?

This is a common issue for those fitting ground or air source heat pumps to a property. Heat pump systems require lower temperature heat emitters. Assuming lots of hard work has gone into insulating the building, the last thing you want to do is compromise the overall efficiency of the installation by putting in standard radiators which need an elevated flow temperature in order to keep the room warm during winter.

You have two solutions:

  1. Use a standard off the shelf steel radiator and considerably increasing the radiator size.
  2. Invest in a highly efficient specialist compact low flow temperature radiator system.

Standard radiator sizing

Any plumber or heating engineer who knows his/her stuff will quickly tell you that reducing the temperature of your heating system will likely require larger radiators to be fitted. In fact radiator designed for a standard oil or gas heating system would have to more than double in size to heat a room using lower temperatures produced by a heat pump. Quite clearly not everyone is prepared to make this change. So what is the alternative?

Low Flow Temperature Radiators

There are a couple of mainstream radiators on the market that fit the bill and allow underfloor flow temperatures to heat a room whilst retaining the same ‘wall print’ size as a traditional radiator. Low flow temperature radiator designs take advantage of compact but highly efficient multiple small bore pipe and a lightweight aluminium fin design to maximise the area emitting heat as well as the option for convection fans to boost output.

Jaga Strada (DBE)

Jaga manufacture the Strada range of powder coated low flow temperature radiators. The basic radiator is wall mounted, simple in design and is very easy to install.

For extra performance an optional ‘DBE’ unit can be bought which takes the form of a small PC fan cassette system that sits on the top of the heat exchanger and helps to draw air through the exchanger can be purchased. These are plug-and-play and again simple to install as well as offering basic boost and thermostatic control functionality whilst remaining whisper quiet.

Each radiator is custom made and takes about 6 weeks to arrive once the order is placed, as a result they could be considered a little on the pricey side. Nonetheless they are of a high quality and come in a massive array of colour choices too!

Dimplex SmartRad  

The Dimplex offering is also sleek in design but differs notably from the Jaga product in that is has an inbuilt axial fan. As a result the unit cannot function as a silent passive radiator.

The product comes in a number of standard sizes and has the option of being purchased with a matt white finish or a slightly more modern looking flat glass front panel. The product comes off the shelf with a basic thermostatic control, however an additional 7-day timer module can be purchased to help refine the operation and maximise cost savings.

In addition both radiators benefit from extremely low water content ensuring that heating times are considerably reduced over a traditional, reducing the amount of energy needed by the heat pump or boiler to get the radiator up to temperature.

Both are extremely viable alternatives to oversizing pressed steel radiators, and successfully fill a growing niche in the retrofit market as old inefficient radiators make way for their ultra-efficient 21st century replacements.

Doug Johnson

Doug is a chartered mechanical engineer and has had the pleasure of being involved in the UK renewable sector since 2008. With wide-ranging operational and design experience in both the domestic and commercial sectors across a wide range of recognised technologies he hopes to be able to share his experience to help enlighten and save you hassle along the way.