Radiator Valves Explained

With so many different types of radiator valves to choose from, it can be difficult to know which one you need. All radiators are different, and each valve type offers its own pros and cons to consider. Whether you're replacing a faulty valve or want to upgrade your home, it helps to know the differences between the types of radiator valves.

Read our guide to radiator valves below to find out all you need to know about manual valves, thermostatic valves, and smart thermostatic valves.

What do the valves on a radiator do?

Every radiator in your home has a pair of radiator valves to control the heat output. Even if you have a thermostat to control the central heating, the valves control each radiator.

They work in a similar way to taps, allowing water in and out of the radiator. One valve controls the hot water flow into the radiator, and the lockshield valve controls the heat coming from the radiator.

Lockshield valves make sure there is an even distribution of water around your home, ensuring the central heating system is balanced. Typically radiators closer to your boiler will receive more hot water than those further away. Lockshield valves work to heat every radiator at the same speed and keep the system in balance.

Types of Radiator Valves

The most common types of radiator valves are manual and thermostatic. Both valve types operate in similar ways but offer different benefits to consider.

Manual Radiator Valves Explained

Manual valves are some of the most common radiator valves in the UK as they are basic and easy to use. A manual valve works in a similar way to a tap - turn it anti-clockwise to turn it on and clockwise to turn it down or off.

The biggest downside of manual valves is that they need to be operated manually. If you don't turn the valve off on a radiator and your heating is on, the radiator will warm up whether you want it to or not. It's best to set your heating on a timer if you have manual valves to improve efficiency.

White Radiator With Valve

Thermostatic Radiator Valves Explained

A thermostatic radiator valve works differently from a manual valve as it's much easier to control room temperature. Thermostatic valves or TRVs allow you to set the temperature of a room using a dial.

Once your room reaches this temperature, the radiator will shut off and cool down. If the room starts to drop below the set temperature, the radiator will automatically begin to heat up again.

You should choose a thermostatic valve if you want better control over room temperature and lower your heating bills.

What's the difference between Manual and Thermostatic?

There are a few things to consider before you choose a thermostatic or manual radiator valve. The most significant difference between the two valves is how radiators heat up.

With manual valves, you'll need to manually turn these on or off to control the heating or use a timer-controlled central heating system. However, a thermostatic radiator valve contains a sensor that automatically turns on or off depending on the room temperature.

Wall Fixed Radiator With Valves

Things to consider with Manual Radiator Valves

  • As they are common, they are easy to find, and there are more valve styles to choose from
  • Simple to control your central heating, but needs to be done manually
  • Harder to control room temperature as the valve uses a simple turn up or turn down mechanism
  • No automation, so your radiators won't adjust to the temperature automatically

Things to consider with Thermostatic Radiator Valves

  • More environmentally friendly option than manual valves
  • Simple to set temperature controls for each room
  • TRVs are not recommended in rooms with a wall thermostat
  • Humidity in bathrooms can cause false readings, so it's best not to use TRVs in these rooms
  • More expensive to buy, but will save money on your heating bill in the long run
  • Harder to control how much water is in the pipes and valves

Smart Thermostatic Radiator Valves

Technology changes all the time, and smart thermostatic radiator valves are a perfect example. Smart heating systems will often use this type of valve as they work with smartphones, allowing you to adjust the temperature of each valve from your device.

Over time, smart heating valves and systems adapt to your changes and can heat your home exactly how you like it. Expect to see more smart thermostatic radiator valves over the coming years as smart systems are on the rise.

Smart Thermostat Nest For Radiator

Types of Radiator Valve Fittings

There are several different radiator valve fittings, so it's essential to check you have the correct valve for your radiator. Below is an overview of the most popular valve fittings and the differences between them.

Angled Radiator Valves

An angled valve is better for radiator pipes that use a 90 degree angled turn to connect to the radiator. They work particularly well in modern homes with concealed pipework under the floor. You might be able to use corner valves as well, but this will depend on the connection angle between your radiator and pipework.

Straight Radiator Valves

If your pipe runs straight along the wall to the valve, then you need a straight radiator valve. Water flows straight through straight valves rather than flowing at an angle. A straight valve is commonly used for heated towel rails and radiators, which need to be hung higher up than usual, as the connection point for the pipe and valve are in a straight line.

Corner Radiator Valves

Corner radiator valves are sometimes known as flat front valves. You need to use a corner valve when the pipework comes from the wall rather than the floor. The top of the valve faces in rather than out like angled valves, sitting parallel with the wall.

Lockshield Valves Explained

A lockshield valve is slightly different from manual and thermostatic valves as it controls how much water can exit a radiator. Every radiator has one, and you need them to make sure all the radiators remain balanced in your central heating system.

A balanced system is when all of the radiators in your house are operating at the same temperature. More hot water will flow to the radiators closer to the boiler compared to radiators further away. Keeping the system balanced makes sure all rooms heat up evenly regardless of where they are.

Once you've installed a lockshield valve, you shouldn't have to make any adjustments. You can change these if you're changing your valves to keep the same style, but this isn't a necessary step.

Further advice and guidance

For any further advice and guidance on radiators and radiator valves, contact our PlumbNation team. Whether you need to know how to change a radiator valve or want to find out more about the importance of radiator valves, we're here to help.