Central Heating Radiators: Aluminium, Stainless Steel or Cast Iron?  

by Steve Voros

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. Now your 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, stainless steel and 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, these qualities made cast iron radiators a sensible choice. However, in today's modern homes, 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.

This 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. For one thing, stainless steel does not rust.

What's more, stainless steel is an efficient conductor of heat. Plus stainless steel radiators retain 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. 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.

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.

About the Author

Steve Voros runs a Radiator Show Room and specialises in assisting end users, interior designers, architects and installers in selecting and sourcing designer radiators.