Stainless steel vs aluminium radiators

Do you know what your radiators are made of? Perhaps you haven’t given it too much thought. In recent years, the traditional ‘plain white’ style has been overtaken by new colours, textures and finishes. But not everyone pays much attention to the actual material of their chosen models. In short, radiators consist of conductive metals, such as stainless steel, mild steel, aluminium, and cast iron. However, each metal has its own pros and cons in terms of price, looks, energy efficiency and maintenance. So, if you’re planning some home improvements, you might like to know that two of the most popular radiator materials are stainless steel and aluminium. We asked our director Stewart Double to discuss their different qualities, to help you make the best choice for your home.

Part of our in-demand Designer Collection, our Delta radiator features slimline panels of either brushed or polished stainless steel, and can be positioned vertically or horizontally

The appeal of stainless steel radiators

Stainless steel radiators have lots of attractive benefits. One of their main advantages is that they are excellent heat conductors. They heat up relatively quickly (certainly a lot faster than cast iron radiators, for example). Importantly, they retain heat really well. This means your home stays warmer for longer – even after you’ve switched your central heating off. So, stainless steel radiators can save you money, and help you use less energy.

Built to last

Another advantage of stainless steel radiators is their strength and durability. Stainless steel is built to last, which means stainless steel radiators are easy to look after. Simply keep them clean with a quick wipe-down with warm water and a mild detergent. Stainless steel is also super durable, which means that stainless steel radiators are very resistant to rust and corrosion.

Our Cove stainless steel radiator incorporates sleek oval tubes that look super stylish, but offer excellent value for money

Style and sustainability

If you’re keen to choose a radiator material with good eco credentials, stainless steel scores highly here. too. Stainless steel is 100% recyclable and it looks as good as it performs. We offer a wide range of  stainless steel radiators and towel rails, in a huge variety of styles, colours and finishes – so there’s no lack of choice. Stainless steel radiators aren’t the cheapest option available – but they aren’t the most expensive either. Together, I think their aesthetics, versatility and longevity represent excellent value for money. It is worth pointing out, however, that there are different grades of stainless steel, and some are more suitable for radiators than others. At DQ Heating, we use Grade 304 for our stainless steel models, as it’s strong, yet flexible, and more resistant to corrosion.

Combining classic proportions and elegant simplicity, it’s easy to see why our Dune stainless steel vertical radiator is one of our best-sellers

The advantages of aluminium radiators

Aluminium has plenty of practical qualities and benefits, which could be why this material is becoming so popular in the UK. Aluminium is a superconductor, conducting heat up to five times more efficiently than its stainless steel counterpart. This means that rooms heated by aluminium radiators warm up really fast – however they will cool down quicker too. This makes them a great choice for rooms that require really responsive heat levels. Because they produce a lot of heat, aluminium radiators have a much higher BTU (British Thermal Units) output. So, you can heat a larger space with just one model, instead of two or even three made from another material. Many also have a low water content. This means they need less hot water from your boiler, so they don’t need to be on for as long to reach their required temperature.

Combining function and form, our new Galena aluminium radiator incorporates huge BTU capabilities and a stylish ribbed design

Light and versatile

Aluminium is a softer, more flexible material than steel. Because it’s so lightweight, it can be fashioned into all sorts of contemporary shapes, styles and designs. So if you’re looking to make a serious style statement with your radiators, it’s often the best material to look out for. Because aluminium radiators are so light, they are easier and quicker to install. They are also an ideal choice for walls that aren’t suitable for heavy weights. However, these types of radiators may be less robust than stainless steel models.

Our Ruvo vertical radiator, showcased here in an eye-catching Turquoise Blue finish, is manufactured from 100% recycled aluminium, offering serious sustainability with no compromise on style

Easy to recycle aluminium

Aluminium isn’t just simple to shape, it’s also very environmentally friendly. Aluminium radiators are 100% recyclable, and they are often made from recycled materials, too. So this is one area where there isn’t much difference between stainless steel and aluminium. It’s a different story where costs are concerned, however. Aluminium radiators tend to be more expensive than stainless steel models. But they look amazing, are resistant to rust, and are very energy-efficient.

Our Vela aluminium radiator sports a contemporary flat panel design with a lower water content. It’s available in vertical and horizontal versions, and offers multiple options including a practical polished towel bar and electric-only models

In summary, each type of radiator material has different benefits. The best choice for one person might not suit another. My advice would be to think hard about your heating requirements, priorities, personal style preferences and budget, before making any decisions. But whichever material you ultimately decide on, we’re sure to have an option to suit. As a family-owned business with more than 20 years of experience, we’re happy to provide pre-sales advice on anything from technical issues to pipework dimensions – and everything in between!

If your tastes are more traditional, click here to discover our collection of Victorian-style radiators and towel rails.