Kitchen heating wasn’t a really problem in the dim and distant past since the kitchen would be used for cooking and the oven or stove would warm the room up, making radiators unnecessary.
But increasingly the kitchen is used as a family centre, particularly if it is a kitchen diner, and of course the oven isn’t used so much with microwave meals and convection ovens that put less heat out into the room. So trying to fit a radiator into a kitchen has become more of a priority.
Radiators are problematic in a kitchen though. The larger the room, the larger the radiator and the more space has to be given over to it.
Radiator positioning often puts limits on kitchen design because moving them is a tricky job, involving the repositioning of the inlet and outlet pipes. But there are some advances in heating technology that can help out.
Underfloor Heating for Kitchens
The first, best and most expensive is underfloor heating. A flexible tube is wound back and forth across the floor from the central heating pipework and then back again, basically like a stretched out flattened radiator. This is then covered with a screed and then the flooring of your choice, as long as it is compatible with underfloor heating.
Not only does underfloor heating give an even spread of warmth across the room but the temperature only has to be about fifty degrees, as opposed to the ninety degrees of a normal radiator, so it places less demand on energy resources. The side benefits, apart from being cosy and warm underfoot, are that there are no radiators so kitchen design is liberated, able to use the whole room.
The Cost of Underfloor Heating
The expense comes from two sources. Firstly either the whole house has to run this system or a separate hot circuit has to be run back to the boiler because of the different temperature requirement to the traditional radiators in the rest of the house.
Secondly, the whole floor has to be dug up, perhaps even lowered a couple of inches to make room for the pipe, then the concrete floor must be re-laid over the top. The kitchen flooring will have to be of a type that is resistant to the continual raising and lowering of the floor temperature to, which can be a design constraint.
Electric Underfloor Heating
There are electric mesh underfloor heating units available although products capable of heating larger rooms are relatively new to the market. The advantages are that you don’t have to link them into the central heating plumbing circuit and they are thinner and flatter, so the floor level doesn’t have to be dug down so far.
The disadvantage is that you will have to pay to heat the room on top of your normal central heating whereas fluid-filled underfloor heating uses the boiler that you are running anyway to warm the rest of the house.
Go Low for Less Intrusive Radiators
There are other options that don’t require such upheaval. Traditional radiators are now available in non-traditional forms that take up less space. Long, low radiators can be placed underneath kitchen base units to heat the kitchen at floor level. You really need a unit that’s combined with an electric fan to blow the warm air out into the kitchen, otherwise it will simply warm up the food in the cabinet above it.
There are similar units that are just electric heaters with fans. They are cheaper to buy in the first place, and simpler to fit as they don’t require a connection to the central heating plumbing. But using them is more expensive as you’ll be running them on top of your central heating.
New Radiator Designs
Other traditional radiator types that can be used in the kitchen are vertical radiator designs. By running a radiator vertically up a wall you can use the space either side of it to create more cupboard or shelf space and some come with integrated towel rails that will dry your tea towels out in no time.
There’s also another benefit; some vertical radiators have the incoming and outgoing outlets next to each other. This makes them easier to work around if you have a ceramic or stone tiles floor, as you only have to make tricky cut-outs in one tile, not two.
Final Thoughts on Kitchen Heating
There are a couple of things that you should probably bear in mind regardless which system you use in your new kitchen design. The first is to keep radiators away from fridges and freezers and the second is to make sure that you fit thermostatic controls. Both of these will conserve energy and keep your bills down.