Single vs. Double Radiators: Which One Do You Need?


When choosing radiators for your home it can be challenging to know exactly what size and type of radiator you need. That’s where this handy guide will help. We’ll take you through the differences between single and double-panel radiators and the considerations you need to make when choosing a new radiator.

Single radiators


  1. Ideal for smaller rooms – Due to their size and heating capabilities single-panel radiators are suitable for smaller spaces such as offices, utility rooms, and small bathrooms.
  2. Lower costs – In most cases, single-panel radiators are cheaper to purchase and run than double-panel radiators.
  3. Appealing to the eye – If you’re looking for a sleek heating option single panel radiators are ideal as they tend to stick out from the wall less than double panel options.


  1. Lower heat output – Single-panel radiators are ideal for smaller rooms as they are unlikely to keep up with the needs of heating a larger room. If you have a large room or open-plan space, a double-panel radiator is likely to be a better fit.
  2. Take longer to heat up – Some single-panel radiators may take longer to heat up and get to your optimum temperature. If this is something your radiators have struggled with in the past it’s good practice to keep doors and windows closed in these spaces to avoid heat escaping from the room.

Double radiators


  1. High heat output – Due to their double panel design they can provide a high level of heat, even in larger rooms.
  2. Energy efficient – In general, double panel radiators are great at keeping the room at your desired temperature, making them a great energy-efficient option.


  1. High heat output – If you fit a double panel radiator in a smaller room you run the risk of overheating the room. When the wrong size radiator is installed in a room it can make it difficult for the radiator to cope.
  2. Larger design – Double panel radiators are likely to protrude further from the wall than a single panel radiator, making them difficult to install in some areas, such as behind a door, next to a dining table, or in long narrow rooms.
  3. Expensive to run – As double panel radiators provide a higher heat output than single panels, they command both a higher running and purchase cost.

Things to consider before purchasing a radiator

Before purchasing a radiator of any kind there are a few areas you need to consider, such as the size of the room you are looking to heat, the room's BTU requirements, and your budget. Keep reading to find out more.

Size of the room


The size of the room you’re looking to heat is a big consideration as this is likely to determine the type of radiator you need. If you have a particularly small room, you’ll likely need a single-panel radiator.

However, if you have a larger room or an open plan space, a double panel/bar, or even a triple bar radiator may be a better fit. This is when it’s a good idea to calculate the BTU (read on to find out how to do this).

Another area you will need to think about is the available wall space. This will help you to decide whether you need a horizontal or vertical radiator.

Vertical radiators, while used predominantly in contemporary homes as in most cases a great option for kitchens. It’s not always easy to fit a standard horizontal radiator in a kitchen due to its layout but a vertical radiator can easily fit in a small vertical gap between your door and kitchen cabinets for example.

Calculating the BTU

The BTU (British Thermal Unit) requirements of a room can be calculated to assist in finding the correct size radiator for your space. Take a look at the video below to learn how to work out the BTU requirements for your home.

You can also use of helpful BTU calculator, which will take you through calculating the BTU of a specific room e.g. your kitchen with step-by-step questions. This will then give you your BTU requirements.

Energy Efficiency


The energy efficiency of a radiator will depend on multiple factors such as the style and type of radiator, as well as the size of the room, and even the type of windows you have.

The radiator size and number of panels play a big part in the energy efficiency of your heating system. For example, if your radiator is too large or small it won’t be capable of heating the room correctly and can also put strain on your central heating system and boiler.

The type of windows you have, and their condition can also play a big part in the efficiency of your heating. If you have single-glazed windows this could result in a lower heating efficiency, than double or triple-glazed windows.

Can I replace a single radiator with a double?

Yes, it is possible to replace a single-panel radiator with a double option, but the best way forward is to make sure the new double radiator has the same height and width dimensions as your existing radiator.

However, it’s not just the size of the radiator you need to consider. As a double-panel radiator produces more heat, it’s essential to consider your boiler and central heating system. Just because you’ve installed a double panel radiator, it doesn’t mean your heating system is able to provide this level of heat efficiently. Therefore, if you’re thinking of updating to a double-panel radiator, we suggest contacting a registered heating professional first.

Radiator design


While it may not always be the case, the style of your radiator is also something to consider. With a wide variety of designs from standard panel radiators to traditional column options, and even designer radiators, the selection has never been greater.

The style of radiator you choose will, in most cases, come down to personal taste and the design of your home. However, if you’re looking for a radiator that’s going to catch the eye of all your visitors, a designer radiator might well be the way to go. Radiators need not look boring, if you go for a designer radiator there are even options that look more like a piece of artwork than a radiator.


Column radiators on the other hand provide a classic, traditional look, perfect not only for period homes but contemporary spaces too. What’s more column radiators are available with not only double bars but also triple bar options, making them the perfect choice for particularly large rooms or for older period properties. If you’re looking for a bog-standard radiator then worry not as there are still plenty of standard panel radiators available in a wide variety of sizes.

In conclusion, you need to ensure your new radiator is the correct fit for not only the size of your room but also in design and looks. If you’re unsure about the heating needs for your home, we advise contacting a heating specialist who will be able to help you choose the perfect radiator for your home.

If you would like more heating inspiration and advice, take a look at the following posts - How to Check and Maintain Radiators - Designer Radiator Buying Guide - How to Fit and Replace a Radiator

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