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Types of Home Heating Radiators

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Vintage Radiators

Initially constructed of cast steel and powered by steam, American Victorian homes were first introduced to radiators in 1863. Even when hot water replaced steam as the heat source, radiators remained large, protruding several inches into a room and weighing upwards of 200 pounds. Those who had more money opted for intricate carvings on the metal, making them extensions of the interior architecture.

Many older homes, even if they have since installed central heating and air conditioning, have retained their radiators. While some display them proudly, many prefer to disguise them with covers that transform them into furniture-like pieces.

Baseboard Heaters

Post-WWII, when metals like aluminum and copper became more readily available, baseboard heaters began to replace radiators. The baseboard models were preferable to many as they consumed less visual space in a room. These new heaters still used water as their heat source, but less than 10 percent of their output was radiant. The balance of the heat was generated via convection, which produced a less consistent heat.

Radiant floor heat is a more practical floor heating system for contemporary homes. Pipes are run in a snake-like pattern between the subfloor

and flooring material and can be attached to thermostats and timers for greater convenience.

Modern Floor-Mounted Radiators

Vintage radiators are still available, generally for re-purchase through antique dealers. Homeowners who rely on radiators for heating prefer more contemporary styles, which are substantially more efficient than heaters from the past: They weigh less, require less water, and generate heat at a much faster rate. Their design is also more streamlined, with manufacturers offering designer colors and decorative covers at the time of purchase.

America does not have the same stringent energy standards as many European countries. European models can be imported to the U.S. but their temperatures are not to exceed 167 degrees Fahrenheit ; American-made radiators can reach a maximum temperature of 210 degrees F.

Art-Like Radiators

Though art-like installations are more uncommon in the U.S. because of homeowner preferences for unfettered wall space, a plethora of options are available, predominantly from international suppliers. These large wall-mounted models can appear as coat racks, mirrors, towel warmers, sculptural 3D art or a hybrid combination. Much like a shower pipe, the plumbing is run through the walls instead of poking up through the floor, providing greater versatility for furniture placement.

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