Free guide to electric towel rails

Atlantic Timelis towel rail

If you’re thinking about buying an electric towel rail, this article will tell you everything you need to know so you can make an informed decision.

Who doesn’t like the comfort of a cosy towel when stepping out of the bath or shower? Today’s modern heated towel rails are designed to keep both you and your bathroom feeling wonderfully warm, especially during the cold winter months. Electric towel rails are a safe, efficient, and cost-effective heat source designed especially for bathrooms.

In this article, we’ll take a look at the history and popularity of heated towel rails today, how they work, their benefits, and what you can expect to pay to purchase and run them.

About electric towel rails


The electric towel rail is a relatively modern addition to the world of domestic electric heating. The first heated towel radiators were created in the 1980s by a pioneering Swedish radiator company called Toomec AB. Their innovative product started as a feature for luxury hotels to impress their guests with. Gradually, they became pretty standard in hotels of all kinds across the world.

Eventually, as popularity and demand increased, towel rails began to be sold domestically, bringing a touch of hotel luxury into our homes and daily lives.


A desire for moisture-free, warm bathrooms with energy-efficient heating drives a growing demand for heated towel rails across the globe. Rising technological improvements and advancements in the design of bathroom accessories contribute to the increasing popularity of heated towel rails too.

According to a market research report by Grand View Research, the global heated towel rail market size was valued at around £700 million in 2019 and is expected to grow at a compound annual growth rate of 6.9% from 2020 to 2027.

How do electric towel rails work?


Electric towel rails are powered by mains electricity and use a heated 150 or 250-watt heated element. When the towel rail is switched on, the element heats the liquid inside the rails.

Electric heated towel rails are not part of a central heating system – ideal for summer months when central heating is switched off.


When buying an electric heated towel rail, you can choose whether you want it to be thermostatic or non-thermostatic: 

  • non-thermostatic: meaning the temperature remains the same (also known as ‘single heat’)
  • thermostatic: you can adjust the temperature settings (also known as variable heat)

A heated towel rail with adjustable temperature settings tends to be slightly more expensive.


Electric heated towel rails come with a variety of controls that offer great flexibility. These controls ensure you have heat exactly when you want it, even if you’re not yet home.

  • 24/7 programming: Good electric towel rails come with 24/7 programming, meaning you can select exactly when you need the heat to come on, every single day of the week
  • Remote control: Modern towel rails can also include remote control abilities, either through a control console on the wall near the towel rail or via a mobile phone app
  • Anti-frost mode: Another advanced feature is a frost sensor that automatically switches the towel rail on and keeps it ticking over when external temperatures fall below freezing
  • Open window sensor: A towel rail with an ‘open window sensor’ pauses heating if there’s a sudden drop in room temperature, and resumes heating once the temperature stabilises
  • Boost function: A useful feature for warming damp towels or just for a quick boost of heat


Before considering what style and finish you’d like for your new towel rail, you should first consider what size you’ll need for your room. This will depend on the space you have available and the heat output needed for the room.


The dimensions of electric heated towel rails are typically between 800mm and 1800mm in height and between 500mm and 900mm in width. 

Also consider the depth of the towel rail (how far the towel rail protrudes from the wall). This is also known as the ‘projection’. The towels on the radiator will add a further 20-40mm to the projection, depending on their thickness.

Heat output

The size of heated towel rail you choose should also take into account the heat output required to heat your room comfortably. 

To make this calculation easy, you can measure your room’s dimensions and put those measurements into our handy electric heating calculator. Our calculator will give you an idea of the wattage you will need for your new electric towel rail.



Chrome is one of the most popular materials for heated towel rails because of its efficient level of heat output. Chrome electric towel rails are usually affordable and durable, lasting many years.

Stainless steel

Stainless steel towel rails are ideal for more humid bathrooms as they are resistant to corrosion and will last a long time.

Other materials

Mild steel, carbon styles, and aluminium are other common materials for heated towel rails.


Electric heated towel rails come in many shapes and sizes, and they’re available in a variety of styles and finishes. The most popular style is the ladder style. The surface area of ladder style towel rails will not only provide excellent heat but will also allow you to store multiple towels. Perfect for families. 

Other styles include a horizontal orientation that is very popular for under bathroom windows or cupboards. You can also find curved heated towel rails and more traditional-looking rustic style although these are quite uncommon.

Finishes and colours

Traditionally, electric towel rails are finished in polished chrome, but these days they also come in other contemporary finishes like Anthracite and a range of colours like matt black and white. You can also find ‘designer’ heated towel radiators that are specifically designed to make a statement. 

Finding a towel rail with a design that matches the design of your bathroom won’t be too much of a challenge with the choice available on the market today.


Unlike traditional towel rails connected into a central heating system, electric towel rails are usually simple to install.

Installing a new chrome towel rail

Because electric heated towel rails come in a range of styles and sizes and aren’t part of a central heating system, they are ideal for extensions, conversions, and awkward spaces.

It is possible to install an electric towel rail yourself. However, if you’re unsure about working with electricity or don’t have any experience with this kind of DIY work, please contact an electrician before starting.


Cost to buy

You can buy a basic electric towel rail from around £150, but for larger, more modern, efficient, and feature-rich models, prices can go up to £500 and beyond for some of the designer models.

Installation cost

Because of their simple design, electric towel rails typically do not take a lot of time to install. This will, of course, depend on the layout of your home’s wiring, the intended position of the towel rail, and other factors.

Running costs

If you’re looking to reduce your monthly heating bills, installing an electric towel rail can help. Electric towel rails and electric radiators all run independently from each other, meaning you can decide where and when you want to heat individual rooms.


Built with safety in mind, electric towel rails are considered to be very safe due to their double insulation. They come with a high IP safety rating ideal for bathroom use. 


So, in summary, let’s take a look at the reasons why people buy electric towel rails:

  • Efficient to run
  • Easy to control the heat output
  • Extremely reliable
  • Very safe
  • Inexpensive to buy and install
  • Compact design
  • Flexible sizes and shapes
  • Smart features that make life easier
  • Warm, cosy towels and bathroom!

We hope this guide helps you find an efficient, modern electric towel rail that will give you noticeable value-for-money and comfort in your bathroom, and for many years into the future. 

Use the links below to explore our range of electric towel rails for your bathroom or use our heating design enquiry form to tell us what you need for your business or home office. And you can always call our friendly team for advice about any electric heating on 01382 566942 (Mon-Fri, 9am to 5pm).

Other guides about electric heating

Free guide to electric radiators

Free guide to storage heaters