Saturday 5 January 2013

Fitting more radiators

Our downstairs is open plan: the living room, den, study, kitchen and dining room are all basically one space. In this space we have our humungo wood-burner (it is a clearview 650, one of the most versatile  efficient wood-burners on the market when we bought it 5 years ago) When we fitted the rest of our heating system upstairs we thought the wood burner would be suitable for the whole of the downstairs area....

We were wrong!

If the outside temperature was close to freezing, the laws of thermodynamics stipulated that our bedrooms would be roasty toasty while we shivered at the dining table, no matter how hot the wood-burner got.

As long as outside temperatures were around 5ÂșC or warmer the whole house was fine, but we live in a hilly area of Scotland and we have had 3 seriously tough winters (with perma-snow on the ground for 3 months)

We needed to fit some radiators downstairs.

A radiator's heat output is measured in BTUs (yet frequently boilers are measured in kWh, go figure) You can find BTU calculators online, we used this one.

But with our open plan living space, and the fact that the hardwood floors are already fitted, we had very few options as to where radiators could go or what size they could be, we really could only fit in 2 small radiators. But we figured they would do.

The job is to bring heat downstairs, but also to create some convection, moving the air around and distributing the heat from the stove more efficiently too. I suppose if you are reading this with a knowledge of basic physics you may be nodding your head slightly tilted to one side and thinking "yes, that could work" if you are a plumber you probably don't believe it could ever work.

Well let me tell you, it does work #result.

We have fitted a teeny tiny radiator in the kitchen - this will eventually be covered by some form of benchy-box or some other seating/boxing in arrangement. The slightly bigger small radiator is in the study and will eventually probably sit under a desk. I'm hoping the furniture doesn't affect the convection too much, we will allow for lots of ventilation of course.

Radiators are fitted on a loop, you have a flow pipe coming from your boiler (or in our case thermal store) and a return pipe going back to your boiler. Each radiator is tee'd off of both the flow and return.

The biggest problem was getting pipes through ceilings, down walls through the back of cupboards, cutting more holes all over the place. It won't take much to patch them up again but I wish we had properly planned it all before we had all the floors and walls put in, but we managed to do it fairly painlessly.... apart from the coughing and sniffing (I was still suffering from laryngitis) we kept the lemsips flowing and it took us 2 days to get it all up and running.

We now have a much cosier house, and a bunch of more plastering to do.

The Nitty Gritty:
  • Each radiator is fitted with a TRV
  • The pipes are insulated everywhere we can reach them.


  1. There is a device you can put on top of your stove which acts as a fan and pushes air around once your stove heats up. It doesnt need any energy source, it works as the stove heats up. I've read some good reviews about them, they're called ecofans. They might help distribute the heat your stove is generating (I've no interest in the company - just been looking into getting one myself - they are a bit expensive though

  2. Hi Ann - great name by the way ;o)

    I had heard of ecofans, and John was quite keen on getting one but our layout has a few corners and I think heat still wouldn't quite reach the kitchen or the study. (I have a layout plan somewhere on this blog... somewhere...) But, we might look into it in the future. We've not had any really cold days since we finished the radiators, so if we are looking for an extra boost from the stove we might give an ecofan a try.



  3. We have combustion (wood) heating, just the single unit to do our entire cottage. But as it is a HUGE burner and we've a small house it heats really well in winter. Of course, our winters are nowhere near as cold as yours! But I do wish that air conditioning worked as efficiently during the summer months as the heating does during the winter. I've no idea how people kept cool in these parts before the advent of electricity. :/

    1. Oh gosh,

      Our air-conditioning system is called "taking off your jumper" ;o)

      This winter has been reasonably mild so far (though it is due to get chilly at the end of the week) We have had a distinct lack of snow, it might look pretty for a few days but when you forget the colour of the grass you know the novelty is wearing off.



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