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What is the difference between a radiator and a convector radiator?

Radiator or convector radiator? Both will keep your house warm. The main difference is the way in which they heat your house. Both come with their own benefits and drawbacks…


In radiators, the hot water runs top down through the various components, which are made of steel, aluminium or cast iron. In turn, these elements go heat up the surrounding air.

This acts to produce a combination of:

  • radiant heat : the panels that radiate the heat
  • and convective heat :  the heated air that rises up and consequently attracts cooler air to the radiator.
In a convector radiator, the hot water is circulated through a tube, surrounded by small fins. These fins act to increase the contact surface with the surrounding air.

As with a regular radiator, the hot air rises up and attracts cooler air to the appliance. In some types, a ventilator can act to accelerate this process.

A convector radiator chiefly delivers heat through convective heat.



Takes longer to warm up. Is quicker to bring the room to the required temperature.
Ideally has the largest possible surface area, to ensure a more efficient transfer of heat. A smaller model can be fitted if preferred for aesthetic reasons.
Clearly visible in your home interior, although it may also be used to hang towels on to dry. Best if unobtrusively incorporated as part of your home interior, it can also be used, for example, if you have windows that go down to the floor.
Higher touch temperature Lower touch temperature. Consequently less risk of fire and more suited to families with children.
Radiant heat is healthier In case of convective heat, you are breathing hot air that is emitted by a (possibly unhygienic) heating element (and comes with its share of dust).
Longer service life  Does not last as long
Cheaper  Higher purchase price
Uses more energy 10% less energy consumption: is quicker to bring the room up to temperature and does not have residual heat


Did you know that …

Convective heat rises up, remains suspended against the ceiling, where it cools down before descending again. The cooled air is heated up again at the bottom of the room by the heating system.
Radiant heat emits horizontal heat waves that heat up all the objects in the room, independently of the air flows (wind and drafts). This delivers a very even temperature.


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