Choosing the Right Valves for Your Radiator
But, how do you go about selecting them? Here’s what you need to consider:
The right connection size
Naturally, you need to be sure of the size required otherwise the valve won't fit properly. Be certain to ask the person who is fitting your radiator what kind of pipework they're going to be using. Most standard pipes are in 15mm copper, but every now and then an installer might wish to use 22mm. On older properties, such as churches, you might even come across 28mm sizes.
A wide range of valves exist, either manual or thermostatic, to meet these dimensions and buying an older form of radiator valve could be an option.
The only other pipe size that you may encounter would be ‘micro-bore’. As the name suggests this pipework is smaller in diameter – either 8 or 10mm. In this instance you can use any 15mm radiator valve with the addition of an adapter to connect the valve to the pipe.
The type of pipes used
The majority of pipe work that you will see is copper, and most valves work with this particular material. However, older houses may have iron pipes which will require bigger valves with a different thread.
Some fitters prefer to use push fit plastic pipes, due to its easy installation. Neither of these will work with all types of valve so be sure to check that your valves will work with your pipe type before you buy them. However, you should ask your installer to add a piece of copper pipe work from the floor to the radiator valve in which case the full range of valve options would be open to you.
What is the best type of valve for your installation
There are three main valve shapes to choose from:
- Angled valves are the most common. They work best with pipes coming from below a side inlet, or from the side onto a bottom inlet. These valves are the ones that you see on the vast majority of radiators.
- Straight valves are less common, but may be the best choice if your radiator has a side inlet where the pipes come from side on, or a bottom inlet where the pipes come straight up from below. Typically you would see this type of valve on towel rails and radiators with ‘underneath connections’.
- Corner valves are ideal if your radiator has the pipes approaching the inlet from the wall, as they keep the valve head in line with both the radiator and the wall. This is a great way of keeping the installation neat and the floor clear of obstruction.
By choosing the best valve for your radiator pipes and position, you can make sure your radiators work well with an installation that looks neat and tidy.
Thermostatic Radiator Valves (TRV) or Manual Valve
The final decision is on the controllability of the valve – do you want to regulate the temperature automatically or are you prepared to turn the valve up and down yourself?
TRV, or thermostatic valves, are the most common radiators valves that you see around. These usually have numbers showing to denote a particular setting. By setting the valve the heat will be regulated so there is always a constant temperature in the room. This makes for a more efficient system as you are not wasting energy by overheating a space. They can also be left to do their job rather than require constant intervention.
Manual valves can best be described as taps. These are ideal in rooms, such as bathrooms, where it is a less of a problem if the room gets too warm. The downside of a manual valve is that if it gets turned down or off you have to remember to turn it back on again otherwise you might be welcomed by a cold room in the morning. Likewise, leave it turned up and you might discover a sweltering room which might prove a costly waste of energy.
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