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towel warmer or fin tube

steve novak
steve novak Member Posts: 33
I am putting in a second bath in my home in the basement. It will be a full bath approximatly 7'x 12'. I was going to install fin tube but I think a towel warmer would be nice instead. I do not know that mutch about the towel warmers do they make a unit large enough to heat that space and if so does anyone have any segestions on manufactures to use. Also this bath will be on its own zone so would it be better to zone it with a valve or a pump. The bathroom is only about five feet from the boiler.


  • Mike T., Swampeast MO
    Mike T., Swampeast MO Member Posts: 6,928

    Towel warmers are made to heat towels--not spaces. Once loaded with towels they don't put out much heat and mfgrs. will say NOT to consider them as even contributing to the space heating load.

    Runtal (and possibly others) MIGHT though make some form of device that is intended to do both--I'm thinking of the essentially floor-to-ceiling type of things I've seen.

    With all sincerity--if you want a towel warmer and you don't ALREADY have a CONSTANT source of quite hot water do yourself a favor--get an oil-filled electric model!
  • Justin Gavin
    Justin Gavin Member Posts: 129
    Bathroom Heat

    I agree with Mike. I think you would be hard pressed to get much heat past the towels that is effective you might have to heat the towel warmer up to the point of burning your skin when you try to take your towel off.

    How big is the bathroom in question? If you are retrofitting you may consider warming the tiles with your boiler, or with elecric radiant and supplement with an electric fan heater that is connected to your exhaust fan and/or a heat lamp (the kind most hotels use). If it were myh home I would start from the floors up.

    Good Luck,

  • Kritz_3
    Kritz_3 Member Posts: 85
    towel warmer

    I understand that a towel warmer is not designed to heat a space but aren't BTUs, BTUs? If you have a T-stat running a circ. wouldn't it do the job? If the heat loss for the bathroom was 1000 BTUs and the T.W. supplied 1000 BTUs@ 180` would it satisfy the space?

  • todd s
    todd s Member Posts: 212
    warm towels

    I wouldn't suggest doing this, the danger of someone touching this is too great. I've always liked the idea of running some fin tube behind the bathtub and using it as a radiator.
  • Joe_13
    Joe_13 Member Posts: 201
    what about summer months?

    If you check out runtal or myson, they do have oversized towel warmer/radiators that would not be fully covered by towels. But what about outside of the heating season? Then you're likely to overheat the room, and probably dive up your AC bill. At least the electric units have timers to limit the heat cycle.
  • Kritz_3
    Kritz_3 Member Posts: 85

    Just turn down the T-stat. But haning the bathing suits or surf trunks to dry on it would be nice too.

  • S Davis
    S Davis Member Posts: 491
    Towel Warmers

    I have done alot of jobs heating bathrooms with towel warmers and have not had any problems they work great, you just have to size them properly.
    Usually 50 BTU's per Sq. Foot around the pacific northwest.
    We use Runtal alot.

    S Davis
  • Mike T., Swampeast MO
    Mike T., Swampeast MO Member Posts: 6,928
    My boondoggle

    This towel warmer was as much for art and aesthetics as for producing warm, fluffy towels. Since I'm not from its country of origin (the United Kingdom) where it's cool, damp and where space heating temperatures are generally MUCH lower than we use it was really difficult to make it "work" as more than just an art object!

    Yes, a BTU is a BTU, but just like when you wear a sweater to decrease the heat loss of your body, when you put towels on the thing to make it do what it's supposed to do you significantly reduce its heat output. I think that's why it seem to take HOURS to produce a "proper" towel--even with a supply temp of around 140°!

    I have a boiler but it does not supply DHW--such is quite uncommon around here--and there was NO WAY I was going to run a 190,000 btu boiler just to supply a towel warmer in the summer! So...it was either install a completely dedicated hydronic system, most likely electric, or use my domestic hot water heater. I chose the latter for two reasons: 1) Add another complete hydronic system and you've just added greatly to maintenance costs. 2) Because it's the highest thing receiving hot water I thought it would make a good gravity "pump" for a gravity DHW recirculation system. BTW, it's at the very end of the gravity loop and I piped in a bypass in the floor immediately below the warmer so that the loop would continue to circulate when/if the towel warmer is off. Fortunately (because of the elevation I believe) the flow naturally "favors" the towel warmer when its valve is open.

    Thankfully I'm handy--otherwise I would have had to be quite wealthy to afford this thing. Lots of design work--lots of material--lots of headache with those crazy Myson connections.

    Even without towels delta-t across the thing is quite low. So either round chrome tubes aren't too good at liberating heat to the space (likely) or the water is moving through at very high velocity (unlikely since it's gravity driven).

    Once loaded, delta-t is EXTREMELY low. I kept it in continuous operation this summer but fully loaded. While I know it has to be sending some heat into the space I really couldn't tell that it had an effect on the A/C. It is a "zoned" cooling system but that zone is a four-room master suite (plus another bath) with no t-stat in the master bath.

    While an oil-filled electric model might not be as "elegant" and you might (like me) think, "I have a hydronic system already," I honestly believe the electric models are much more suited to "typical" American climates and mechanical systems.

    p.s. If I ever design another bath this elaborate I'll make sure I have the money to pay someone else to execute the plan! Well over a 100' of tile miters including eight really nasty ones at the shower door corners. Tile was bought years before the final design and additional was not available without a trip to Africa. I have four pieces of one wall color left and six of the other and spoiled exceptionally few. Every piece (floor and walls) had to be "buttered" and planted with the walls one row at a time on wooden ledgers lest they slip.
  • Justin Gavin
    Justin Gavin Member Posts: 129
    Nice Bathroom!

    What the heck were you doing in Africa Mike? Or is that just where the tiles came from?

This discussion has been closed.