Originally Posted by madds
2. What are the pros & cons of radiator covers. As far as I see it, the only pro would be a cosmetic one, whereas the con would be a loss of heat?
The theory goes that a proper radiator cover actually increases the heat getting into the room. With nothing above the radiator, a lot of the heat goes straight up, "against" the wall to which the radiator is attached, basically losing heat as it goes (it is heating the wall, basically) so that a lot of this heat never makes it into the body of the room. The lid of the radiator, or even a shelf close enough above the radiator, causes the heat to push away from the wall and into the room instead.
There are recommendations for the optimum distance of the cabinet top and front from the radiator itself, which you would expect/hope that a commercial cabinet will follow. Similarly, there are suggestion for the positioning of gaps/openings in the cover to maximise the effectiveness of the cover in allowing the heat out into the room rather than trapping it inside the cover.
I built a cover for the radiator in one of our rooms, and it works very well - at least, we perceive an improvement of heat within the room. It also provides another useful shelf.
Some things to bear in mind:
- Obviously you will want easy access to the radiator valve, so the cover should facilitate this.
- You will probably want to bleed the radiator at some point, so look for a cover that allows you access to the bleed nipple (might necessitate removing the cover entirely, depending on the style of radiator, so perhaps look for a cover that is easy to remove).
- If you are worried about dust building up inside the cover, look for one that allows you to reach a vacuum cleaner under it so that at least you can vacuum the floor underneath the cover. Having said that, I'm not sure that accumulated dust is much of an issue really - the grot that I find under my radiator cover is the general dust and fluff that builds up on the laminated wood floor of the room, which just gets blown under the cover via the gap that I left for access for the vacuum cleaner, ironically enough!.
- Before enclosing the radiator, it is a good idea to install some reflective foil between the back of the radiator and the wall. This is to reflect heat away from the wall and into the room, otherwise some of the heat just gets wasted by heating that portion of the wall itself. This foil is available in various stores such as Homebase - it's not the cheapest stuff in the world, but it does make better use of your heating so probably pays for itself quickly enough.