Exploding a myth: why painted radiators are just as good heat emitters

There’s a myth that’s been circling the radiator world for many years now; it goes that the colour that a radiator is painted in affects its heat performance. The thinking goes that, for instance, a black-painted model – whatever its manufacturer, whether it’s a Reina radiator, for instance, or any other make – is bound to be capable of emitting more heat and better than one painted white, presumably because black’s the best colour, in general, for absorbing heat. Is there any truth in it; frankly, no.

Others too believe that an important factor in this regard is how reflective the finish of a unit is; that is, the shinier its surface, the less heat it’ll be able to radiate. To be more precise, some believe specific radiators with chrome or polished stainless steel finishes come provide lower heat outputs than the same radiators with a paint finish. Again, when it comes down to it, this isn’t true either. A matte black radiator isn’t going to deliver more heat – or be more efficient – than an exact same one with a polished silver finish

Why doesn’t colour affect how well a radiator emits heat? 

Fundamentally, the answer to this lies in understanding how radiators work. To an extent, they operate via radiative heating, a form of heat transfer that sees their surfaces emit thermal radiation; itself an electromagnetic wave that can be absorbed by the other surfaces in a room – and scientifically speaking, black surfaces tend to emit radiative heating better than those of other colours.

The beautiful Eskimo Ron shown in Gold and paired with matching Gold valves!

However, radiators rely more on convective heating than radiative heating; the former then seeing a unit heating the air in front of and around it, which enables the air (once its heated) to rise, while cooler air’s drawn from below towards the radiator and heated. Once the warmer, higher air cools, it descends and, as cooler air, is then drawn to the radiator and heated again – and so the process repeats itself over and again. To that end then, by far the most important element in all this is not the colour or finish of the radiator, but the radiator surface’s contact with the air around it and the efficacy at convective heating.

Despite all this, some may suggest that the surface itself, when coated by (a) certain layer(s) of paint or finish may affect its convective efficiency; yet, in all truth, you’re talking about a negligent effect here, at best. Or worst; whichever way you look at it. What’s way, way more important is to ensure you have the right sort of radiator installed in a room – and in the right position in a room (often under a window, if possible, to best enhance the convective heating process) – which means choosing the correct model according to the dimensions of your room and its own dimensions. It’s all about ensuring the unit you purchase is capable of providing the correct heat output (measured in British thermal units; commonly referred to as BTUs), which you can settle on with the help of using an online radiator vendor’s free-to-use BTU Calculator, just like the one you’ll find on our website.

What colours are available?

So then, happily, the reality is that when you’re talking about radiators and colour, it all comes down to whatever takes your fancy. And that opens you up to an extremely broad spectrum of coloured radiator, all right – from the subtly discrete to the boldly, wonderfully daring and understated pastel shades to vibrantly right finishes, there truly is nowadays something for everybody to choose from.

But that’s far from all; thanks to breadth and depth of today’s home-heating market, coloured models are available across the whole range of different types of radiator for every room in the home. That means column radiators to flat panel radiators, horizontal to vertical radiators and more. If you’re after a standard radiator, a designer radiator or, indeed, a bespoke radiator, there’s a great chance nowadays that you’ll discover it comes in a whole range of very distinct RAL colours – whatever tickles your fancy (or rather your eyes), then Indeed, by all means, go ahead and check out the great options available on our website and you’ll see exactly what we mean; get browsing, get choosing and get buying today!

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