Difference Between Thermostatic and Manual Radiator Valves

Posted: Monday, January 4, 2021

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For a radiator to function properly and efficiently, you need to have the right radiator valves - which can also help reduce your heating bills.

There are two main options available when choosing radiator valves: manual and thermostatic. While both control the heat from your radiator, they are very different from each other. But in what ways? Trads is here to help explain by guiding you through each radiator valve and what they can do for your home heating.

Read on to find out about manual and thermostatic radiator valves, as well as the differences between them…

What is a radiator valve?

Radiator valves are what you see at the bottom of a radiator - they will have a twisting mechanism on top. They allow you to control how much heat you want your radiator to give out, just like a tap to control the flow of water.

Each radiator will have two valves. One will control the amount of hot water that enters the radiator and the other will balance the system by controlling how much heat comes out of your radiator. This is known as the ‘lockshield valve’.

The lockshield valve is often covered with a plastic cap and controls how much water flows out of your radiator. This can be either back into the pipework or to remain inside your radiator. The lockshield valve is usually fixed to prevent you from turning it.

What are the types of radiator valves?

There are two main types of radiator valves to choose from: thermostatic and manual radiator valves.

Manual Radiator Valves

The most common type of radiator valve is a manual radiator valve. The clue to how manual valves work is in the name - you have to turn them to control the temperature.

They work just like a tap, by altering the flow of hot water from the boiler into the radiator. The higher the level on the valve, the higher the volume of hot water entering the radiator to produce greater heat. Once a room has reached a temperature you want, you will need to turn the valve down yourself to a cooler setting.

Thermostatic Radiator Valves

Thermostatic radiator valves (TRVs) give you much more control over the temperature in your home because they have more advanced features. Like a manual valve, you can set the valve to what temperature you’d like a room to be.

The thermostatic valve ‘senses’ the temperature in your room and once the temperature you want is reached, it will automatically stop the flow of hot water to your radiator and prevent it from getting any warmer, wasting heat and energy.

What are the differences between manual and thermostatic valves?

Manual valves are simple to use and are generally smaller in size than thermostatic valves. As they are manual, you have to remember to manually turn them off when you don’t need them on. Otherwise, you will be wasting unnecessary energy and money on heat that you don’t need. This is where thermostatic radiator valves come in.

Thermostatic valves are the 21st-century radiator valve. They enable the radiator to manage itself for the majority of the time. This means that you don’t need to worry about having to turn the valve off yourself - the TRV will do it for you. This will prevent you from wasting unnecessary heat and money - benefitting your heating bills and the environment.

How do TRVs monitor themselves? They have an in-built temperature sensor that keeps the room temperature at a constant level - this is actually a piece of wax or liquid. We, and energy providers, recommend TRVs should be installed on your radiators because they offer improved efficiency and are controllable.

What are the benefits of manual radiator valves?

A manual valve is an age-old standard for radiators, one we’ve all grown up with and used. This makes them easier to find in shops and provides them with much more variety, in terms of style, for example.

The manual valve is also often cheaper to install than TRVs and can give you a more focused control over your home heating system. You can tailor your manual valves to different temperatures in each room throughout your home. This is particularly the case when you’re heating your entire house but want rooms at different temperatures.

For example, the temperatures of the kitchen and bathroom may need to be different from those of the living room and bedroom because you need to consider warmth and humidity from cooking and washing. Some rooms may not need any heating at all, so manual valves give you the freedom to micromanage your home eco-system.

What are the benefits of thermostatic valves?

Thermostatic valves are far more environmentally friendly than manual valves because their maximum capacities match the heating output recommendations for carbon footprint reduction efforts.

Even Trads' TRVs are similarly priced to manual valves, they can be more expensive elsewhere. However, TRVs will save you more money in the long run, which is extremely beneficial due to how high heating bills can get if you’re not careful. A thermostatic radiator valve is one of the best ways to make your heating as simple and easy as possible.

Simply set the maximum temperature in your thermostatic radiator valve and then, that’s it, you can relax while TRVs manage your heating system. In reality, unless you have a lot of people at your home, it’s very unlikely that you’ll need to heat every room inside your house to the same temperature, which is where TRVs are so useful, preventing heat waste.

Why you can’t have a thermostatic valve in kitchens and bathrooms

We’ve alluded to this already, but you should not make the mistake of installing a TRV in your bathroom or kitchen. This is because the heat and humidity produced by your shower and bath, or from cooking with an oven or hob, will provide false readings. This means that the valve may well shut off and do nothing, such as preventing condensation.

Is it time you updated your radiators? Here at Trads, we have an excellent range of beautiful cast iron and steel radiators to update your home with!

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Feel free to contact us if you need any help choosing a radiator

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