Central Heating Radiators - What are they made of and why?

There are many choice in design when it comes to radiators and many options in finish, however when it comes to radiator materials, we have four metals. Aluminium, mild steel, stainless steel or cast iron

Central heating radiators have blossomed over the last few decades. No longer are you limited to white, grey or black radiators made of cast iron. If you decide to visit us, you'll notice our radiator showroom is graced with an array of futuristic creations of all shapes and colours. But one important first decision is your choice of radiator material. Your major options are cast iron, mild steel, stainless steel or aluminium radiators. To help you pick the best radiator material for you, here's a look at the upsides and downsides of the three materials.

Cast iron was one of the first materials used for radiators during Victorian times. Cast iron takes a long time to heat up but takes a long time to cool down too. So it keeps you warm long after you turn off your central heating. In the old days of poorly insulated building with draughts and rattling casements, these qualities made cast iron radiators a sensible choice. However, in today's modern homes with loft insulation and double glazing, these properties are far less important.

Cast iron radiators are most popular with people who want a Victorian ambiance in their homes. But you should be aware that you can now get stainless steel radiators that give you the retro look of a cast iron radiator, complete with kitschy claw feet.

Mild steel is a material most commonly associated with the more conventional panel style radiator, although it is very commonly used in designer styles due to its low cost and efficiency when offered in a painted finish. In fact, some of the models we offer such as the Ovale radiator does offer painted mild steel and polished and brushed stainless options.

Which brings us to your next option in radiator materials - stainless steel. Stainless steel is a very high quality material with a number of desirable properties. Firstly, stainless steel does not rust. However it's important that the right grade of stainless steel is used. There are some 150 grades of stainless steel and not all are suitable for radiators.

The next advantage stainless steel has as a radiator material is that it's an efficient conductor of heat. Plus stainless steel radiators retains heat longer than aluminium items. This means they keep you home warmer for longer after you switch off your central heating.

Stainless steel also gives a very attractive finish and it's easy to keep clean. You just need to wipe it down with warm water and detergent a few times a year.

On the downside, stainless steel's quality doesn't come cheap.

Finally let's look at aluminium radiators. Compared to cast iron and stainless steel, aluminium is a super conductor. So one of the great things about aluminium radiators is their responsiveness and the control that gives you. Aluminium a highly efficient heat emitter. With aluminium radiators, you can turn on your central heating when you get home and your house or apartment warms up immediately.

Plus aluminium radiators have low water content and are highly responsive to thermostat changes. This converts to excellent cost efficiency and lower bills for you. Aluminium is non-corrosive. And, aluminium radiators are very light and easy to install. The result is often lower installation fees.

Lastly, there's the matter of sheer style and good looks. Aluminium radiators are available to harmonize with any surroundings. Ultimately, the great thing about aluminium radiators is the infinite range of styles, finishes and colours available.

So the burning questions are: Are aluminium radiators better than steel? Are cast iron radiator better than steel or aluminium? All these radiator materials have their good points but the blend of function, beauty and economy means that aluminium radiators come across as the clear winner. Cast iron radiators have a benefit for heat retention, and steel radiators are a great option for price plus performance.