When choosing the right radiators for your home, it can take time when considering the many types and styles available. Not only can you opt for traditional horizontal style radiators, but also vertical and designer radiators too. Whilst the aesthetic is important to fit your home décor, its heating performance and functionality is the most crucial aspect, and this can be influenced by the materials it’s made from.
One type of radiator that has become a popular choice again is cast iron radiators, offering a completely different style and look to others. But how do they compare when put up against standard steel radiators that are most common? Here, we’ll look at cast iron radiators vs. steel radiators and what you need to know before choosing.
Cast Iron vs. Steel Radiators –Difference in Metals
One of the first major differences between these two radiator types is the material used in their manufacture. As a traditional radiator material, cast iron is much heavier and thicker than steel, making it less practical for moving around. However, this means their construction is very strong despite their added weight and are a solid choice for longevity. Due to the extra weight of cast iron radiators, many cannot be wall-mounted alone and instead have feet to help secure them in place, meaning more floor space is required.
It does take cast iron radiators much longer to heat up when compared to steel radiators, one of the many reasons why steel is a common choice. However, this does mean they also retain their heat for much longer, so once up to temperature, they’ll stay that way for a longer period. This does mean they take longer to cool down also, so if you need to reduce the heat in a room quickly after being used, cast iron will be slower than steel radiators.
Steel Radiators vs. Cast Iron – The Same Designs?
A notable difference, and one of the reasons why they have become popular again, is the aesthetic look of cast iron radiators vs. steel radiators. Whilst modern radiators can look more streamlined, white and panelled, cast iron radiators most commonly share a traditional design with column radiators. This provides a bulkier appearance that can stick out from the wall further when compared to a modern flat-panel design. Here at Stelrad, many of our cast iron radiators have a four column design, enough to provide sufficient heating for any room, that still follows the classic aesthetic people look for with column radiators.
When comparing cast iron vs. steel radiators in terms of design, you may find many more options for cast iron than you would expect. This includes the colour so you can match against the décor of your room, the size if you need something larger or smaller, and the heat output too. This can all be customised thanks to a modern take on traditional cast iron radiators. Many may think that they are not as customisable as steel radiators, but in fact, they have just as many options to do so if you want to. Many may seek cast iron designs to fit an industrial or rustic room aesthetic, providing that traditional shape and colour, but you can also easily fit into a modern room aesthetic that is full of vibrant colour too.
Heating Performance of Steel Radiators vs. Cast Iron Radiators
As mentioned above, the type of material your radiator is made from will affect its overall heating performance. Steel radiators benefit from much quicker heating and cooldown times than cast iron designs, meaning you won’t need to keep the radiators on for too long before your room is up to temperature. However, cast iron radiators will retain their heat for longer once up to temperature, meaning you can turn them off and still have plenty of heat radiating. Overall, when comparing cast iron radiators vs. steel radiators in terms of heat output, they are very similar. Both are able to efficiently heat your home and provide a comfortable room temperature. You will still need to consider heat loss requirements for the room itself, whether choosing steel or cast iron.
Whilst they have a more traditional design, cast iron radiators when used properly, will not cause your energy bills to soar as you may expect. Today’s cast iron radiators have the benefit of modern safety and emission guidelines, so are not manufactured in the exact same way as in the past. To comply with modern regulations, cast iron radiators come complete with a convection fan that extracts any harmful particles, so whilst they may look like something from the Victorian age, they are as safe as modern steel radiators.
Size Consideration – Cast Iron vs. Steel Radiators
It’s always important to consider the size of the room you want to put a radiator in or replace an existing one with. Using a radiator size tool provides guidance on what you would need if unsure, but you will also need to consider the amount of wall space and floor space you have. As the design is different, a cast iron radiator tends to be much bigger and bulkier, meaning more floor space from the wall is required. The benefit of this though is that the radiator can be shorter in width compared to a slimmer radiator that would need more wall space, such as a slim flat panel radiator. If you have reduced wall space horizontally, a compact cast iron radiator could be ideal.
Of course, like any size radiator, if it is too big or small for the room it’s installed in, it will not work as efficiently as it should. There is plenty to consider before choosing between steel radiators vs. cast iron radiators, and as detailed above, it is more than just the overall look and design.
If you need any help with choosing your next radiator purchase, get in touch with the experts here at Stelrad. We have many different varieties of radiators to choose from, including heated towel rail radiators, LST radiators, and much more.