A Brief History of Radiators

In our modern homes, we often take our radiators and central heating for granted. These days, the radiators can easily match the decor, coming in all shapes, sizes, materials and colours. Central heating used to be a luxury but now it is so expected that the elements have become home interior accessories. Why not? We don’t have to live with dull radiators! We can choose period radiators, a vintage look, or ultra-contemporary. But where did it all begin? Let’s look at the history of the humble radiator:

We know that the Romans were the first to use their smart hypocaust system to provide their villas with central heating through the floor. Similar innovations occurred in ancient China and Korea as well. In early 1700, Russian engineers had begun creating a central heating system that was water-based, which is what we have today. The system used a steam generation design and installed during the 1830s. The first to be installed in the UK were in the house of the governor of the Bank of England so that he could grow grapes!


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There isn’t just one person who could claim to have invented the radiator. Designs were formed at some time during the mid-1800s. Between 1855 and 1857, a Russian named Franz San Galli designed an early version of modern radiators and not long after, Robert Briggs and Joseph Nason also produced a version consisting of iron tubes and a bottom of cast iron. One of the biggest innovations was the ‘Bundy loop’, which is still reflected in today’s design elements and created by Nelson Bundy.

We have all seen the cast iron radiators that became prevalent during the Victorian era and this is the first time we also see the radiator designed with decor in mind, as well as function. They were still only found in stately homes and the abodes of the wealthy, and not until the late 1970s would most homes in the UK have central heating installed for the first time. For Aluminium Radiators UK, visit a site like Apollo Radiators, suppliers of Aluminium Radiators UK.

Steel is the material of choice for the manufacture of radiators in the UK, which is composed of steel pressed into the corrugated panel. Cast iron went out of fashion and was considered too heavy, too big and too overpowering for the interior decoration of homes. Fashion seems to go full circle though, and Victorian radiators have enjoyed a resurgence in popularity in the 21st Century.

For an older property that’s decorated in accordance with the original features, cast iron radiators are still desirable. It is popular for period properties being restored back to their previous splendour. They are also preferred by architects for old houses because they are effective to prevent moisture. Cast iron radiators stay warm for a long time after the heating had been turned off, keeping both the interior and the walls warm.


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If you have a modern home, chances are you would prefer a contemporary radiator style, and these are available in many different finishes, shapes and sizes. Do you want a radiator that makes a statement in unusual shapes to dominate a room or a simple heated towel rail for a minimalist design?

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