Difference Between Thermostatic and Manual Radiator Valves

Posted: Monday, January 4, 2021

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Understanding how to use a radiator with manual or thermostatic valves helps you maintain a comfortable temperature in your home, prevents overheating and could save you money on your energy bills. The two main types of valve, manual and thermostatic, both control the heat output from your radiator but in very different ways. This blog provides guidance on how to use each radiator valve effectively. 

Read on to discover how manual and thermostatic radiator valves work, their differences and which valve is right for your home...  

What is a radiator valve?

Radiator valves control how much hot water enters or leaves your radiator, enabling you to adjust the temperature of a room. They are usually located at the bottom of each side of the radiator. They are adjusted by rotating the valve head. This controls the flow of water in and out of the radiator, just like a tap. 

Each radiator has two valves - a manual or thermostatic valve on one side, and a lockshield valve on the other. The manual or thermostatic valve controls how much water enters the radiator and a lockshield valve controls how much heat comes out of the radiator. You may be wondering how to use a radiator lockshield valve but, unless you’re a plumber, you shouldn’t need to touch it. It will probably be covered with a cap and fixed in place to prevent you from accidentally turning it. Lockshield valves control how much water is returned to your boiler and how much goes onto the next radiator within your heating system. Distributing water evenly balances the system; when unbalanced, a lack of water in the radiators furthest from your boiler causes them to be cooler than the others in the heating system.   

How To Use A Radiator Valve

The two main types of radiator valves are manual and thermostatic. Both angled and corner models are available, allowing you to connect to existing pipework through your floorboards or wall, or to new extending radiator pipes if installed away from the original pipework. 

How to use a radiator with a manual valve…

You will probably be familiar with how to use a radiator valve manually. When you turn the valve anticlockwise it opens, allowing a higher volume of water to enter the radiator. The more you twist, the warmer the room becomes. They are the simplest mechanism to operate but require monitoring. Once a room reaches the desired temperature, you need to remember to turn the valve to a cooler setting. 

How to use a radiator with a thermostatic valve…

Thermostatic radiator valves (TRVs) have more advanced features compared to their manual counterparts. Although you have to set the valve to your preferred temperature, after this is done the radiator looks after itself. A thermostatic sensor automatically restricts the flow of water to your radiator when it detects a room has reached its set temperature. This prevents overheating, ensuring a comfortable environment and energy bills are kept to a minimum. To learn how to set your TRV and how to use a radiator valve in more detail, consult your product information booklet. 

The Differences Between How To Use A Radiator With Manual And Thermostatic Valves

Manual valves are generally smaller and simpler to use than thermostatic valves. As you operate them manually, you have to remember to turn them on or off in order to prevent wasting energy and money on heat that you don’t require. Thermostatic valves offer a solution to these problems. They enable the radiator to self-regulate, meaning you only need to pay attention to your radiators if you wish to change the overall temperature setting. You don’t need to worry about turning your radiators on or off as the TRV will do it for you. As a result, heating bills are often reduced and the environment will thank you!

How do TRVs monitor themselves? In-built temperature sensors made from wax or liquid detect changes in the room’s temperature. This triggers the valve to stop the flow of water into the system if needed. Trads recommend TRVs due to their improved efficiency. Our team will be happy to explain how to use a radiator valve upon request. 

The Benefits Of Manual Radiator Valves

Everyone knows how to use a radiator manually as this is what most people grew up with. There are hundreds of different styles, designs and materials to choose from, allowing you to find the perfect match for your radiator and decor. 

You can hire any qualified plumber to connect manual valves to your existing pipework or by extending radiator pipes. You can tailor manual valves to give a different heat output in each room of your house, enabling you to keep unused rooms cool. You may wish the temperature of your kitchen and bathroom to be lower than other rooms in your house to account for the humidity of washing and cooking. The freedom to heat each room to a required temperature enables you to micromanage your home ecosystem.  

The Benefits Of Thermostatic Valves

Thermostatic valves are how to use a radiator in an environmentally friendly way. Their maximum capacity matches the recommended heating output for carbon footprint reduction. Trads’ TRVs are priced similarly to manual valves and they will save you money over time. If you choose a more expensive model, the upfront cost will soon be overshadowed by lowered energy bills. Without a thermostatic cut-off, heating bills can become expensive very quickly. Simply set the desired temperature in your valve, sit back and relax. TRVs will manage your heating system automatically, so unless you’ve invited a lot of guests over, you probably won’t need to alter it. Like manual valves, you can set each radiator to a different temperature, preventing heat wastage in unused rooms. 

Why You Shouldn’t Use Thermostatic Valves In Kitchens And Bathrooms

Don’t make the mistake of installing a TRV in your kitchen or bathroom as the heat and humidity produced by showers and ovens will provide false readings. This means that the valve could shut off, stopping the flow of hot water into the radiator because the valve is confused. 

Are you ready to update your radiators? Trads is home to an exquisite range of cast iron radiators, from classic Victorian designs that complement period homes to contemporary models perfectly suited to modern and industrial interiors. 

Click to shop online!

Contact us Monday to Friday and we’ll be happy to help with all of your enquiries. 

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