Radiator reflectors: are they worth the trouble?
Posted by Tim Pullen on 18 May 2011 at 9:31 am
Like a lot of things in improving energy efficiency, radiator reflectors* can devolve into a complex argument. For example, radiators are not actually radiators. They are also convectors and conductors. And radiator reflectors only deal with the radiant heat.
A single panel radiator will have 50% of the surface area facing the wall. Fins on the back of the radiator will increase heating surface area but also increase the convection effect. Double rads will have only 25% of their surface facing the wall and double finned, double radiators will have the lowest radiated heat emission and highest convection emission.
Complicated isn’t it?
To try and un-complicate the question, we have first to ask two other questions :
1. Is the house, and specifically the walls, well insulated? That is, really well insulated – 100mm plus thickness? If so, there is no benefit from reflectors as the heat is barely escaping through the walls anyway.
2. Are they older, single panel radiators or more modern radiators with fins on the back? If they are older type then reflectors will have a good impact. But they will have a smaller impact on finned radiators.
That is not to say that they should not be installed if you have modern radiators. In terms of saving energy every little helps and reflectors* are relatively cheap and easy to install.
Which radiator reflectors to install?
There are plenty of different types out there but the ones with a saw-tooth like surface are the best as they encourage convection and improve the warm air movement around the room.
If you have a poorly insulated wall I would suggest first gluing the reflector to a thin sheet of insulation (Kingspan, Celotex or similar) and fixing that (with glue) to the wall behind the radiator.
* These are affiliate links which means that if your click them and buy, we will get a small commission. This helps with the running costs of the YouGen website.
Photo by Sarah & Mike Scott
More information about making your heating more efficient from YouGen
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