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Boiler Advice

What are the two valves on towel radiator for?

What are the two valves on towel radiator for?

Towel radiators are not only practical for warming your towels but radiator valves serve as an efficient heat source for your bathroom.

A key component of these radiators are the two valves attached to them. These valves play a big role in controlling the flow and temperature of the hot water within the heated towel radiator, ultimately affecting the heat output and efficiency of the new towel radiator.

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Purpose of the Two Valves

Control of Hot Water Flow

One of the valves on a new towel radiator is responsible for regulating the flow of hot water into the radiator. This valve functions similarly to a tap, allowing you to control the amount of hot water entering the central heating system.

Regulation of Heat Emission


The second valve, often a lockshield valve, balances the system by controlling the amount of heat the radiator emits. This valve adjusts the rate at which hot water exits the radiator, making sure efficient heat distribution and temperature control within your bathroom.

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Types of Radiator Valves

Manual radiator Valves

These manual radiator valves require physical adjustment, similar to operating a tap. They offer a straightforward method to control the heat output of the radiator.

Thermostatic Radiator Valves (TRVs)

TRVs automatically adjust the flow of hot water based on the ambient temperature in the room. These valves contain sensors, usually filled with wax or a heat-sensitive liquid that expand or contract. The valve regulates the flow of hot water. The numbers on the thermostatic valve indicate the desired temperature, providing an efficient way to maintain a consistent warmth level.

Lockshield Valves

The lockshield valve complements the other valve (manual or thermostatic) by controlling water flow and pressure. It plays a very important role in maintaining the balance and efficiency of the home heating system, particularly in multi-radiator setups.

Cost of towel radiators and valves

The cost of a radiator in the UK can vary widely based on many factors, including the size, style, material, brand, and quality. Towel radiators come in various designs, from basic models to more high end or designer options.

On average, towel radiator prices can range from around £50 to £500 or more for a standard towel radiator, while designer or high-end models can cost upwards of £800 to £1000. The price also depends on additional features like finishes, heating output, and whether it’s a standard or electric radiator.

The cost of towel radiator valves in the UK can vary. On average, basic manual radiator valves can start from around £10 to £30 each, whilst thermostatic radiator valves or more advanced models with additional functionalities might range from £20 to £50 or more per valve.

What are Thermostatic Radiator Valves?

towel radiator

TRVs are specialised towel radiator valves that can be adjusted to most radiators in a central heating system as well.

Thermostatic valves automatically control the flow of hot water into a radiator based on the room’s ambient temperature. This feature allows for individual temperature control in different rooms, leading to increased comfort and energy efficiency.

Should I leave the towel radiator valves open or closed?

Whether the valves on a towel radiator should be open or closed depends on whether you want the radiator to heat up or not.

  • Open Valves If you want the towel radiator to heat up and provide warmth, you should open the valves fully. This allows hot water to flow through the radiator, heating it up and warming the towels.
  • Closed Valves On the other hand, if you don’t want the towel radiator to heat up or if you want to turn it off temporarily, you should close the valves completely. Closing the valves stops the flow of hot water to the radiator, preventing it from heating up.

Adjusting the valves on the towel radiator allows you to control its heating function according to your preferences and needs. Make sure to adjust the valves accordingly to achieve the desired level of warmth or to conserve energy when the radiator is not needed.

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Temperature Sensing

A thermostatic radiator valve (TRV) operates by using a temperature-sensitive element, In order to regulate the flow of hot water into a radiator based on the room’s temperature.

When the room is below the set temperature, the element opens the valve, allowing hot water to enter the radiator and warm the space.

As the room temperature rises, the element reacts by closing the valve, reducing the flow of hot water into the radiator. If you happen to find cold spots in your radiator, this is usually a sign to bleed your radiator as it can mean that you have air trapped inside of the radiator that needs to be let out.

This mechanism enables the TRV to maintain a consistent room temperature by adjusting the heat output from the radiator, offering you personalized heating control and optimizing energy efficiency.

Automatic Adjustment

This expansion or contraction moves an internal pin, which in turn opens or closes the valve. When the room reaches the set temperature, the valve closes, reducing the flow of hot water into the radiator. As the room cools, the valve reopens to let in more hot water, increasing the radiators temperature.

Setting the Temperature

TRVs usually have a numbered dial, with each number representing a general temperature setting. For example, setting ‘3’ might correspond to approximately 20°C.

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Controlling the Central Heating System

  • Room-by-Room ControlTRVs allow for different temperature settings in each room. You can set a higher temperature in living areas and a lower one for your towel rail or in unused rooms, giving you more comfort and reducing energy waste.
  • Energy Efficiency By automatically adjusting the hot water flow based on the room temperature, TRVs can significantly reduce energy consumption. This targeted heating means the boiler doesn’t have to work as hard to heat unused areas, leading to potential energy savings.
  • Balancing the System In a central heating system with multiple radiators, TRVs help balance the heat distribution. This balancing ensures that all home areas are heated efficiently, avoiding over- or under-heating of specific rooms.

Energy Efficiency and Smart Technology

towel radiator

Modern towel radiators often incorporate smart technology for enhanced efficiency and convenience. For example, smart radiator valves can now connect to Wi-Fi, allowing remote control and programmable heating schedules.

These valves can adapt to your routines, optimizing your heated towel rail or central heating for different zones in your home and potentially lowing overall energy costs.

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Servicing and Adjustments

Regular servicing of radiator valves is essential for optimal performance. It’s important to check if the valves are open or closed correctly and to adjust them as needed. For manual valves, turning them clockwise closes the valve, while an anti-clockwise turn opens it. TRVs have numbered settings for precise temperature control.


The two manual valves on towel radiators are vital for controlling the heat output and efficiency of the radiator and central heating system.

Understanding their function and knowing how to properly maintain and adjust them can significantly enhance the comfort and energy efficiency of your bathroom. Whether you prefer manual control or the convenience of smart technology, these valves are key to a well-functioning towel radiator.

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