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Panel Radiator

Tom_42 Member Posts: 63
So if I do decide one day to make the switch from steam to how water with a whole new system, including delivery and radiators, would I be sacrificing any efficiency/economy if I choose to use free standing cast iron radiators like in the good old days vs. either panel radiator, copper base board, or cast iron baseboard?


  • Tom_42
    Tom_42 Member Posts: 63
    Panel Radiator

    Has anyone used or installed hot water panel radiators, like those used in Europe? If so, how would you rate them as a heating mechanisim?
  • Bob LaRochelle
    Bob LaRochelle Member Posts: 13

    Tom, I recently had 5 panel rads w/ trvs installed in the upstairs of my house and regular baseboard downstairs. So far they work great and they look good too. Every thing I've read on this forum and in talking to heating professionals have been favorable to panel rads.
  • Ken_40
    Ken_40 Member Posts: 1,320
    Unlike barefoot,

    I prefer "traditional" HWBB to a PR. In Europe, these things are sort of "standard." Every place I saw them, they had rust stains on the riser joints, occupied space a chair or sofa should have been, are hardly "discreet" and cost roughly twice the cost per BTU of output.

    I found Myson to be a nice alternative to Runtal and better priced, but still opted for HWBB.

    My wife and I preferrd the lower, more discrete presence, far more flexible furniture considerations and the higher outputs available from HWBB. The cost savings, since having mostly radiant, was not much a factor. In your case, it may be...
  • ABD
    ABD Member Posts: 13

    Panel rads look great and can heat the room with lower water temperatures. Runtal has slim, great-looking panels, not cheap though.

    Baseboard is nasty stuff, best suited for trailer parks.
  • Ron Schroeder
    Ron Schroeder Member Posts: 998

    I like panel rads as stated by ABD how ever if going with BB go Cast Iron as either will give you radiant heat for better comfort with copper fin BB your working with more convective heating and the comfort level will not be the same. And if you over size a bit you will be able to work with lower water temps and you will save energy. I am thinking it 1% savings for each 3 degree temp drop you can get.
  • Maine Doug_50
    Maine Doug_50 Member Posts: 9
    I had these

    in my apartment in Switzerland in 1974. I now have them here. Mount 2 hangers on the wall, hang the "panel rad", apply pipe, be warm. Even with 14 foot ceilings.
  • Tom_42
    Tom_42 Member Posts: 63
    Steam Conversion

    I have one-pipe steam with a very old boiler. I am trying to get as much information as possible before I do any kind of upgrade, be it with a new steam boiler or a whole new hot water system.

    My one constraint in the decision making process will be keeping the "old cast iron radiator" look. Or at least something that I can put inside my custom made radiator covers.
  • ALH_4
    ALH_4 Member Posts: 1,790

    I like panel radiators. I've always piped them with stainless or brass fittings, so rust has not been a problem. I have never seen the panel radiator itself rust. We would use a brass union elbow on one side, trv on the other and 10" or 12" stainless steel pipe nipples with threaded pex adapters below the floor. Brushed nickel escutcheons really finish off the look. I don't care for the look of the Runtals personally. VEHA has some very reasonably priced panels.

    Radiant walls are a nice alternative if panel radiators take up too much wall space. Fir or notch the studs, throw in some Thermofin-U and sheetrock right over it, preferrably on an interior wall. The options are endless. Radiant walls work well with TRV's also. The Oventrop Unibox is a nice way to accomplish this.

  • Ken_40
    Ken_40 Member Posts: 1,320
    The looks are

    a personal choice.

    Having a flattenned tin can strapped to the wall is not my idea of pretty or good designs.

    Needing one the size of a small billboard to equal the output of a few feet of discreet HWBB is another.

    The advantage of discreet heating using radiant and HWBB vs equivelant output of stamped tin the size of a Buick strapped to a wall is hardly "great looking" or "slim."

    But if raised in a trailer park, a sheet metal Buick hanging from the wall, may very well adapt to your notion of "style" and class...

    Better yet, remove the Buick and hang even more venetian blind-style Runtals.

    Very fashionable, especially if you live where window treatment is confused with heating units, and the two can be confused - which is a good thing.
  • J.C.A._3
    J.C.A._3 Member Posts: 2,981

    I couldn't agree more with you about the "looks are a personal choice" comment.Frankly, I think the Runtal radiators...(AGAIN. this is JMHO....) look like you're trying to keep the dog or pony in. It looks like a flipping FENCE to me !
    Although I have learned MUCH from , and RESPECT you as a friend and MENTOR...I have to split with you on the use of BB Vs. panel rads in alot of places.Especially when replacing cast iron radiators.

    Where BB has to line the walls due to lack of insulation in far too many cases where I live, (We ALL don't get to build to our own circumstances, with the best insulation that the known world has to offer, or have our customers reasoning to use this as the "bottom line".!) to make up for the heat loss in baseboard would require using high output in short lengths, or wrapping the room in regular fintube. Panel radiators become a blessing. Instead of having to move ALL the furniture away form all the convecting surfaces...(Making small rooms in effect...smaller),they only have to keep the furnishings away from "this area".

    I also like the fact that most heat BOTH WAYS ! They radiate, thereby heating objects, while at the same time most, also convect.Win/win in my book for a small space.

    They may not look so good to you, but to me, sometimes they are things of beauty and comfort. I gotta keep my options and advice open...I've got a few more years till I get to play golf and be my own GC ! See ya soon bunkie. Chris

    P.S. I'll take underfloor with a mid mass anyday over all of the choices! JCA
  • Ken_40
    Ken_40 Member Posts: 1,320

    sheet metal strapped to a wall is just that. I don't care if it emits radiant, convective or conductively.

    Hanging panels of sheet metal on the wall is hardly attractive. We gave those up when they were called "mattress rads" back in the late 1800's. The euros sell it as attractive and new; and we listen to the fabulous marketing hype, which never explains how something we threw out over 100 years ago as ugly and old fashion and inferior in output to virtually any other emmitter form, and we race out to buy it?

    Their ideas are the old crap we disposed of two centuries ago.

    What else is new?

    Fall is almost done here in northern VT.
  • Paul Pollets
    Paul Pollets Member Posts: 3,656
    Not to mention...

    ...Baseboard gets peed on in the bathroom and stinks...the vacuum cleaner constantly bangs into it and dents the covers; your grandkids find the slots great for storing crayons.

    Talk about Butt Ugly...baseboard was designed for tract homes in the 50's....

    Just my humble design opinion

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  • Maine Doug_50
    Maine Doug_50 Member Posts: 9

    14 foot ceilings and 400 sq.ft of window, I liked the fact that my double wall panel rads are about a 50/50 split radiant to convective. If you see the rad, you get the radiant portion. The convective portion and slow ceiling fans move warm air about and very slowly melt the snow on the flat roof.
  • ALH_4
    ALH_4 Member Posts: 1,790

    I'll second that one. Baseboard looks terrible after a few years. I'm not saying panel radiators are beautiful, but particularly if you spring for a tall skinny one, you can stick them in the corner and choose to leave the desired areas open for furniture. Granted, tall and skinny or short and wide radiators get expensive. I really do like the look of the Stelrad Classic Column radiators. Again, not inexpensive. But then what's inexpensive these days?

    I looked pretty closely at the price difference per btu for double element Argo Panel Trim and any radiator I could find. I was never able to beat the cost of baseboard, though it was not a long way off.

  • John_102
    John_102 Member Posts: 119
    bb vs. flat vs. old cast iron

    Sounds like an personal preference, in large measure. If you like the noble standing iron, sounds like it's your call.
  • Mark Hunt
    Mark Hunt Member Posts: 4,909

    Your rake broken or something???

    Get to it man!!!

    Love ya' big guy!

    Mark H

    P.S. I like tin cans strapped to a wall. Especially if I drained them!

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  • Ted_9
    Ted_9 Member Posts: 1,718

    I love it. People say a few feet of copper fin is more descrete and "better" than radiant energy?

    A few feet. Three feet of copper fin doesnt even keep a bathroom cozy.

    I'm sorry to hurt anyones feeling here, but copper fin is low end cheap heating, period. There are plenty of different panels out there and if you cant find one you like, or do not like radiant energy, then you can buy all the copper fin you want. When I give the customer the options, I have yet to see the cutomer choose the copper fin. They always go for the radiant floors or panels.

    You know whats a million times better than copper fin, runtal UF2 steel baseboard.

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  • Ken_40
    Ken_40 Member Posts: 1,320
    Considering we can get

    500-600 BTU's per running foot of "lowly" baseboard, and the equivelant sizing for a stamped piece of sheet metal of equal output would be the size of a '56 Buick, I think we already know which is more "efficient."

    If I wanted radiant heat, my first choice would be in the floor. In the ceiling, a close second. Sheet metal, no matter how "intricate" the face, regardless of how pretty the color - is NOT part of my decor scheme for radiant. Were that the case, I'd use the euro-style panel rad to replace my fridge as the obvious place to put magnetized pictures of my grandkids.

    Fact be known, the new fridge is stainless and I could use another place to keep that photo gallery going.

    Anyone got a 5-foot high by 3-foot wide euro panel rad I can have - to replace my formerly made from the same material sheet metal door?

    I know it will be difficult, but try and remember this: Just because it's euro, does not make it better!(;-o)
  • Troy_3
    Troy_3 Member Posts: 479

    Let me get this straight-HWBB is solid substantial,panel radiators tinny? If you are not a politician yet, you should be. I can hear it now- "only by taxing you more can I take care of you better." Thank you, thank you ,thank you. Sorry I don't agree. I like that panel rad on the wall and the feel of warmth it gives. I much prefer it to the Tinny "modern" BB that is so flimsy it looks like crap in two years.
  • ABD
    ABD Member Posts: 13

    People may be talking about different things using the same names for them.

    Burnham Baseray and similar cast iron HWBB are quite hefty and aren't going to get banged up by vacuum cleaners. I don't like the look myself, but they are durable. On the other hand, other types of HWBB (including copper fin) are cheap stuff covered by flimsy sheet metal, just like electric baseboard.

    Similarly, some panel radiators may be flimsy. I haven't seen any of those but they probably exist. The good brands are pretty solid. As far as looks go, there can be differences of opinion. Runtal, for example, won't fit visually with old-house decor. But Runtals are no tin cans.

    In any case, it is nonsense to say that HWBB has more output than panel radiators.
  • Ted_9
    Ted_9 Member Posts: 1,718
    Runtal UF4

    Wow, look how terribly obtrusive this is! Ken, I’m shocked that you think flimsy sheet metal is better than a solid piece of steel. This one is 4 rows high because they would only give me 6' to work with. Usually, I would suggest UF2 which is the same height, if not shorter than copper fin.

    BTW, Runtal is made in the US and is not European.

    Try telling your customers that this Runtal baseboard is horrible and that they should let you install some copper fin.

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  • mac
    mac Member Posts: 16
    Panel comfort is the best

    part! Not to mention the time savings! We put in a home run supply/return from the radiant manifold to each rad. Basically each rad is its own zone, 1 pump constant circ, TRV's set for comfort (I only know the temp cuz there is a rinky dink thermometer on the wall!

    Did put radiant in the 2 bath rooms and entry ways under the tile.... Oh yea!.. The MISSUS LOVES the warm towels off the towel warmer in the baths...OOooohHHHH yea!
  • mac
    mac Member Posts: 16
    Panel comfort is the best

    part! Not to mention the time savings! We put in a home run supply/return from the radiant manifold to each rad. Basically each rad is its own zone, 1 pump constant circ, outdoor reset and TRV's set for comfort (I only know the temp cuz there is a rinky dink thermometer on the wall!

    Did put radiant in the 2 bath rooms and entry ways under the tile.... Oh yea!.. The MISSUS LOVES the warm towels off the towel warmer in the baths...OOooohHHHH yea!
  • Jed_2
    Jed_2 Member Posts: 781
    Let him have his way

    After all, he was IN the rebellion/revolution of the 1800's that "We gave those up when they were called "mattress rads" back in the late 1800's". Of course, fin tube baseboard radiation hadn't been invented yet, but,Ken didn't know that at the time. He had to wait a few decades for something he could sing about. Meanwhile, the Sons of Liberty were busy working toward re-defining how life should be. Maybe Ken had something to do with that. I'm not sure the Tory's even knew what a Buick was back then, but I bet they knew what kept they're butts warm.

    Let Ken have his fin tube. He can re-paint it and vacuum the lint off the fins. The "John", well, spray paint ain't that expensive. He believes in it. If fin tube baseboard is what Ken wants, then that is what Ken is going to have, Damn the Tory's. It don't matter. He's semi-retired to the Vermont back hills, in beautiful country, knows what he wants, is respected in the Industry, but, the Sons of Liberty press on. "Damn the torpedoes, full speed ahead".

  • cibb freak

    I'm a cast rion base board freak.... I grew up in housefull of " sunshine warmth" of 7" burham sunray castiron baseboards... My father oversized the length to keep the boiler temp lower back in the 50's... Now I have a home with god awful socrched air crap. I do really missed the bbheat and I've collected enough baseboard from the teardown to put it in my home... I've taken out the tin foil stuff and installed CAST IRON as I recommened it, esp with kids in home and can be painted to match any decors...
  • Ken_40
    Ken_40 Member Posts: 1,320

    I usually don't go around whacking my HWBB with my shoe or my hammer...

    Ever seen what the "screen" top looks like after one heating season on a UF4 Runtal? After one year, all the heat one gets is radiant! The holes plug up with lint and detris and make convection output nil.

    At four times the cost per output BTU, not all of us have the wall space or the desire to remove the Van Gogh for the panel rad "look." When placed behind the sofa, the chair or the drapes, we quickly realize the radiant factor is zip-squat.

    Ever whacked the TRV off the rather fragile 1/8" fully exposed knob? No? You use the obscene riser "cover"? Talk about butt-ugly!

    True. This is purely a matter of financial impact, coupled with aesthetics. Some of perceive Runtal type units as "unobtrusive," I find what is essentially a replacement for wood baseboard trim, to be less obtrusive than a runtal type rad. Unless I was into ultra-modern white on white, with white decor and style, HWBB is my only solution: given onl a choice of HWBB or a Runtal rad of equal output.

    In europe, etc., I never saw anything but panel rads. Every one I saw, at least into the hundreds, leaked and had rust stains running down one or both connections. Unlike the venetian blind "look" of many runtals, they were all stamped tin or TTW units. In real old places, floor radiant and c.i. rads were present.

    Where did I witness these things?: Ireland, Scotland, Beijing, Germany, Austria, N.Ireland, Quebec, and Ontario.
  • one word

  • Ken_40
    Ken_40 Member Posts: 1,320
    Only millionaires

    can afford CIBB.

    At WELL over $25/ l.f., the logistical nightmares; coupled with labor costs the gorilla-like strength needed to install same; the never ending mechanical issues of coupling two units together; the fractured boss/coupling potential; and necessity to paint them (they only come primed, and the primer is typically runny, poor quality paint and requires sanding or stripping in many instances), makes the c.i.b.b. a choice only for those who are filthy rich and/or prefer something obscure to fust over(;-o)

    Me thinks a small nuclear device would be less trouble, and along the same price point.
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