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A Radiator that’s worth its metal - Tuesday, April 15th, 2008

Aluminium radiators are quickly becoming the choice of architects, designers and homeowners alike, but what makes this abundant metal so appealing? Sara Hale of Walney radiators explains all

Today’s average family home is quite different from that of twenty or thirty years ago. Nowadays many houses are left empty as both parents work, children are at school and weekends are spent out and about. Furthermore, the current climate change means that winters aren’t as cold as they once were. These issues make a remarkable impact on our heating requirements.

Conventional central heating systems with stainless steel radiators are all well and good when people are at home more often than not and need a radiator that will retain heat for as long as possible. But these heating systems take time to get the house warm because of the amount of water that has to circulate in the system. The differences in the way people in today’s society live their lives have had an influence on what people want from their heating system. For this reason, there has been a significant increase in the amount of people choosing aluminium.

Aluminium possesses many properties that make it the perfect material for radiators. It is the most abundant metal in the earth’s crust, and the third most abundant element overall. It makes up about eight per cent of the earth’s solid surface and is therefore one of the few metals in which the availability of raw materials is literally unlimited.

One of the biggest advantages of aluminium radiators is their low water content. In fact, aluminum radiators hold eighty per cent less water than their conventional counterparts. This means that the water quickly heats up and circulates, so you can turn on your central heating when you get home and your house or apartment warms up immediately, being extremely responsive to thermostat changes. Vice versa, aluminium radiators cool down very quickly when you turn them off. In this way, the boiler needs to be turned on for a very short period of time only, converting to significant energy savings, excellent cost efficiency and lower bills for the homeowner.

Aluminium is also non-corrosive. This is due to the fact that once exposed to air, the surface of aluminum will quickly develop a thin, microscopic layer of oxide over its top, which will stop the metal from rusting. Aluminium radiators also undergo specific multi-phase treatments before the final coating, making the external and internal surfaces highly resistant to the corrosive action of the water in the system and the surrounding environment.

Aluminium weighs less than any other radiator material, making it easier to handle, transport and install; in fact they can be mounted on almost any wall. The higher output of this type of radiator, compared to cast iron and steel, means they can be slightly smaller, saving on running costs and space.

Choosing an aluminium radiator is also better for the environment. As well as wasting less energy when in use, aluminium collected for recycling can circulate in an almost endless cycle. The loss of metal from oxidation during smelting is negligible, averaging only a few percent of the total mass. The quality of the re-melted metal is so high that it can be used for the same product time and again. Aluminium radiators are also more eco-friendly to manufacture. This is due to the fact that aluminium designs are lead-free, compared to the copper brass designs historically used by the industry.

Aluminium radiators also look good too. The great thing about aluminium radiators is the infinite range of designs, finishes and colours available.

K8 is a range of aluminium products are constructed in extruded aluminium alloy, with a high thermal conductivity, superior to that of other metal or alloys normally used. The extruded alloy allows fast heating at a lower temperature of the heating system, at the same thermal output. Their features are unique in Italy, both from a technical and from an aesthetic view point. With 90 per cent less water content than traditional radiators, these products offer unrivalled water content.

The K8 range is unique because it is available in any RAL colour. They also are available in any size and therefore can easily replace the existing radiators without breaking any wall to reposition water piping, a consistent saving for whoever is installing them. 

Italian company, ProjectClima, is a relatively young company, creating the Adacto radiator which is a new way of approaching heating and not just in the home. The radiator is covered in aluminium tiles, offering the customer limitless design and colour choices. You change the colours yourself simply with the help of a screwdriver. The front covers can be drilled to offer the possibility of fixing accessories such as hangers, towel rails, etc.

The radiator is also unique in its connection system. ProjectClima has devised a new flexible hose that enables the radiators to be connected to the hydraulic system without the necessity of pipe centres, with an adjustable wall mounting system that lets you move the fixing point from the radiator itself. The radiators are available in various sizes, ranging from 500mm – 2400mm high and from 200mm wide. Typical costs will fall between £450 and £1,500 depending on design.