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Radiator Inside Cabinet?

I found this site trying to understand about radiators (at the last minute! I somehow didn't realize that you can't just put a radiator anywhere). We live in the frozen north where we get -20F temperatures and the plumber is supposed to come this week to install a radiator that I am now concerned won't work.

Prior to our new kitchen, we had a hot water radiator along a wall beneath a window. It was 34" high and 30" wide and was in a shallow cabinet behind 4 inch shelves, all hidden behind a radiator cover front. It did the job. We renovated the kitchen, and took out the old radiator with a plan to replace it with a smaller radiator in a deeper cabinet so we could have more counter and cupboard space. The new radiator, which hasn't arrived yet, is 18" wide and 12" high and will be recessed at the back of a 18" deep cabinet (the old radiator was at the back of a 10" cabinet). When my brother saw the layout, he said it wouldn't work, that radiators have to have an intake for cooler air at the bottom. I mentioned this to the plumber yesterday and he agreed. He suggested we open up the bottom of the interior of the cabinet and let it vent to the room below (they cut open a hole in the furnace room ceiling to do the plumbing; doesn't look good but the furnace room is unfinished). I am worried because the furnace room is the hottest room in our house, so the radiator won't be pulling in cool air from there. Now I am wondering if this radiator placement will work at all. Our designer ruled our a toe kick heater, saying her clients hate them. Now I am wondering if a 17" wide Runtal along the side panel next to the cabinet and the kitchen door could work. The plumbing pipes would have to be run an extra foot or two to get to the side, and it wouldn't be on an outside wall. Could it work? Would the heat damage the cabinet? Is there a risk of burning if you touch it? The rest of our house is hot water radiators inside radiator covers.

Thank you for any help! I didn't realize before that we needed heating expertise beyond the designer and plumber!


  • EBEBRATT-EdEBEBRATT-Ed Posts: 3,942Member
    Your brother is right. Won't work. even with air holes being cut.

    Someone needs to come up with a better plan and the "designer" should have no input on this at all.

    Toe kick heater is a possibility
    Recessed convector
    wall radiator

    They also have convector radiation that can be recessed into the floor.
    . Do you have any wall space you can use?
  • I can't speak to whether the radiator is large enough to heat the kitchen. But to solve your immediately dilemma just place a grill in the toe kick and drill a pattern of holes in the cabinet bottom.

    And your designer is correct. Those toe kick heaters are always a nightmare.
    Serving Rhode Island & Eastern Massachusetts
    Old Houses & Steam Heat Our Specialty
  • Jamie HallJamie Hall Posts: 8,232Member
    And don't bring in air from the basement. You'll really regret that.

    Building superintendent/caretaker, 7200 sq. ft. historic house museum with dependencies in New England.

    Hoffman Equipped System (all original except boiler), Weil-Mclain 580, 2.75 gph Carlin, Vapourstat 0.5 -- 6.0 ounces per square inch
  • Harvey RamerHarvey Ramer Posts: 2,115Member
    You might also consider doing that area with radiant floor heating?

    Rental does have a lot of radiator options. You can surely find something that fits the space.
    Ramer Mechanical
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  • MilanDMilanD Posts: 1,105Member
    edited October 2017
    You may fashion some kind of low voltage fan to what @New England SteamWorks suggested to help draw air across the toe kick and into the cabinet. If your plumber is adventurous, may even hook it up to the boiler on a delay off timer, or to come on with the circulator. Inside the cabinet, drill holes directly below where the rad will mount and air will be drawn across the rad and out the front. A few computer case fans mounted on a grill would probably do the trick. Similar to how radiator cozy does its thing - you essentially built a cozy - fan blowing into it through the toe kick will push room air across the rad and out through the grill on the front of the cabinet.

    This one runs off a thermostat that mounts to the intake valve.

  • FrozenNorthFrozenNorth Posts: 8Member
    Thank you so much for your comments and suggestions! They were really helpful!

    Re: your questions, we can't do heated floors because we have to end this renovation (for our wallets and our sanity!). We do have a small bit of wall at the other side of the door which we could use for a Runtal but it would involve extending the plumbing another few feet and looking at a modern radiator above an old baseboard :-(. But we could face that next year if the kitchen is too cold this year.

    I hadn't thought about the issue of pulling up basement air, but it doesn't sound good so we're taking that off the table. Thank you for thinking of that.

    We are going to try the idea of the grill along the toe kick to let in colder air, and cut a hole in the bottom shelf inside the cabinet and put a register cover on it so the cold air can come up into the radiator cupboard. I watched the videos about the CPU radiator fans below the radiator and that sounds like a great idea. We are going to try Aliento's version to see if we can ramp up the air flow. Thanks so much for both those ideas!

    I have two questions about the best implementation: can we put the toe kick grill at the side of the cabinet rather than the front so we don't have to look at it? (Would it mess up the air current?)

    Also, where would the best position be for the hole under the radiator to allow the uptake of cold air, in terms of not interfering with the hot air coming out. Would the hole be best directly below the radiator or slightly in front or slightly behind?

    Any suggestions would be appreciated! Thank you so much for your help!

  • jumperjumper Posts: 1,185Member
    Will wife allow ceiling radiator?
  • EBEBRATT-EdEBEBRATT-Ed Posts: 3,942Member
    toe kick inlet can be front, side etc as long as it is below the radiator. Make it as large as possible. The holes in the cabinet floor should be under the radiator and the hole should be as large as the radiator. The air has to move by gravity flow so the less resistance the better.
  • FrozenNorthFrozenNorth Posts: 8Member
    LOL, I am the wife! I had to google "ceiling radiator" because I'd never seen one. With our flat ceiling, and their rarity around here, I think it would become the focal point we didn't plan :-(

    Ed, thank you so much for the placement advice!


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