When it comes to vertical radiators, there’s plenty of confusing and conflicting information out there and very few people know when it’s appropriate to use them and when it isn’t. Experts will recommend that people avoid them altogether, while other experts will say there’s no difference between horizontal and vertical radiators.
The truth sits somewhere in the middle. Yes, there are times when vertical radiators are inappropriate. However, this does not mean that they are always a bad choice. Sometimes, they are an excellent choice.
If there’s one key advantage to vertical column radiators compared to horizontal radiators, it’s that they look much better. There’s just something stylish about the orientation. Perhaps it’s because we’re not used to them, and the human brain seeks novelty.
Perhaps it’s simply that vertical things are more attractive than horizontal things – this seems unlikely, and it isn’t something that’s generally talked about.
Still, for whatever reason, if you're looking for a stylish radiator, then you cannot go wrong with vertical radiators. In terms of interior decor, there’s no better choice in radiator than vertical radiators…of course, that’s only part of the issue.
Some people believe that heat output is much less with a vertical radiator than with a horizontal radiator. This is technically incorrect. As long as both radiators have the same BTU rating (this is the measuring of heat output in the UK), they will produce exactly the same amount of heat.
The problem is that both types of radiator distribute heat differently. A horizontal radiator will distribute heat much more evenly through the room. Heat rises, so the heat comes out over a greater horizontal angle and rises through the room, dispersing the heat at a much wider angle than the vertical radiators do.
While vertical radiators will put out the same amount of heat, it will not distribute in as even a manner as the horizontal radiators distribute the heat. This means that the room doesn’t warm up as evenly as with a horizontal radiator and it can have cooler patches. In other words, vertical radiators are not as good at heating the space as horizontal radiators are.
OK, so given the last two paragraphs, you'd be forgiven for thinking that the only reason to ever install a vertical radiator is for aesthetic purposes, and never because you want the radiator to work as a radiator and actually provide you with heat.
Fortunately, that’s incorrect. There are times when vertical column radiators are the only option for a room, and that’s when the room is strapped for space. In a small room, a horizontal radiator will not be able to provide the room with enough heat because the surface area of the radiator is simply too small – surface area has a direct link to the amount of heat a radiator is able to produce.
In small rooms, you might have no option but to use a vertical radiator. This includes bathrooms, kitchens, and utility rooms more often than not.