Double radiators: your essential guide on what to choose & why

Choosing new radiators used to be a simple affair. Most of the models on offer were plain white, and all you had to do was measure the space available. The good news is there’s now a huge range of radiator shapes, styles, colours and materials to choose from. The only downside is it’s easy to be overwhelmed by all the choice! Our director Stewart’s advice? Start with the basics. Carefully consider each room your new radiators need to heat. How big are they? What shape are they? Are they well insulated? Where are the windows, and are they double glazed? Will one radiator be enough to heat each room effectively? Would single or double radiators be a better option?

Show here as a vertical double radiator, our Cube mild steel designer radiator features striking U-shaped tubes. This model offers exceptional build quality and performance, and in addition to its stylish good looks!

What are double radiators?

Most standard radiators feature either a single or a double ‘panel’. The panel is basically the long section of metal that is also sometimes referred to as the ‘tank’. These panels (or tanks) are the part of your radiator. They are filled with hot water, in order to emit heat around your room. So, double radiators feature two panels, while single radiators only have one.

Panels and fins

Bigger panels have a larger surface area, which means they produce more heat. But one gigantic panel isn’t the solution for most rooms. So the option of a second panel was created and, therefore, double radiators were born. However, these panels don’t lie flush, directly on top of each other, as that would obstruct their heat production.

Some models are separated by convector fins. These are the zig-zag metal strips (often clearly visible) that are welded to the panels. They are also heated up by the hot water that supplies the panels. This further increases the surface area, and the subsequent amount of heat emitted.

Sleek and chic: the brushed stainless steel finish of our Cove horizontal radiator complements both classic and contemporary room settings

Are single or double radiators best?

The answer to this question depends on a variety of factors. One size – literally – doesn’t fit all. Many customers ask us why single panel radiators still exist at all, if double radiators emit more heat and keep a room warmer. The reality is that each type has its own qualities, advantages and disadvantages to consider.

The benefits of double radiators

The main benefit of double radiators is that they emit more heat, faster and more evenly, than their single panel counterparts. This makes them a great choice for larger rooms that require a higher heat output to stay warm. Meanwhile, single panel radiators tend to be more suited to smaller or awkward-shaped rooms. These work well when there isn’t much space where the radiator needs to be sited, or where less thermal efficiency is required.

Ideal for maximising all available wall space, our Tornado vertical mild steel double radiator (shown here in Pastel Turquoise) adds a dash of colour to this neutral room scheme

When considering which radiators are best for which room, you’ll also need to consider their projection. In simple terms, double radiators ‘stick out’ from the wall slightly more than single ones. So, they might not be the best option for a narrow passage or corridor, if they’re likely to cause an obstruction that people will bump into.

Consider size and shape

But don’t fall into the trap of thinking double radiators are only suitable for huge, cold rooms! It might seem counter-intuitive, but double radiators can actually save your space. So, they are sometimes a better option for smaller rooms, depending on their dimensions.

If you ‘double up’ your panels, you can effectively halve the wall space required for your radiator. This is in terms of either width or height, as double radiators are available in both vertical or horizontal formats.

Featuring a low water content for extra efficiency, our Vulcano vertical double radiator, showcased here in the Historic Copper finish from the Designer collection, pairs well with retro room schemes and industrial chic interiors

Cost versus value

While we all want to keep our homes warm and cosy, energy bills have soared over the past year or so, which means heating has become increasingly expensive. Double radiators do cost more to run than a single panel model. But this is logical, as they provide a higher heat output – and they heat a room more quickly. As you don’t get something for nothing where energy is concerned, make sure to take value as well as cost into consideration before making your choices.

Turning on a single panel radiator that’s too small to heat your room effectively is actually a bigger waste of money. You’re also likely to leave your heating on for longer to compensate for any inefficiency/inadequate thermal output.

White double radiators don’t have to be bland and boring. See how our Cove mild steel model enhances this timeless navy/white colour combination

Style and substance

While radiators are designed first and foremost to function as a heat source, that doesn’t mean they can’t look good too. Modern radiators are stylish and colourful, and have evolved to become a pivotal part of a home’s interior design scheme. Double radiators are no exception. We offer a huge of styles and shades that can help you totally transform the look and feel of any space. Whether your tastes are classic or contemporary, white, bright or subtle, we’re sure to have a double radiator model to suit.

Bright and beautiful: we love how the Traffic Yellow shade on our Cube mild steel radiator really makes this space pop! Don’t forget you can choose from more than 300 RAL colours or even choose your own bespoke shade which we will colour-match for you

Swapping singles for doubles

Is it possible to replace existing single radiators with double radiators? If the height and width dimensions match, it should be a relatively straightforward swap. However, we’d always recommend hiring a professional heating engineer to carry out the work. It is worth pointing out that installing larger convector-style double radiators will have an impact on how your boiler and plumbing works. So, make sure you talk to an expert before taking the plunge. Then you can ensure there’s enough power and capacity available to allow any new double radiators to function correctly.

Having trouble dropping off, especially now the days are longer and lighter? Click here to discover our commercial director Jody’s master bedroom ideas for a better night’s sleep.