Craig Bonnyman Tells Us Why We’re Still Using Mild Steel Radiators

Radiators are available in many different materials today, from cast iron to copper. But 99 percent of UK radiators purchased today use the same mild steel that’s been the standard for decades. Craig Bonnyman explains why these radiators are still the industry standard. The first modern radiators manufactured in the mid-1800s were cast iron. This […]

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Radiators are available in many different materials today, from cast iron to copper. But 99 percent of UK radiators purchased today use the same mild steel that’s been the standard for decades. Craig Bonnyman explains why these radiators are still the industry standard.

The first modern radiators manufactured in the mid-1800s were cast iron. This was essentially the only material available with the limited technology of the time. They were very heavy and expensive to produce and were largely replaced by modern mild steel radiators by the 1970s.

Craig Bonnyman explains that the chief advantages of mild steel as a material are cost and workability. The material is inexpensive and easily molded into nearly any shape. It’s also an excellent conductor of heat, allowing warmth to transfer to the room more efficiently.

During Bonnyman’s long experience with radiators and the central heating business as a whole, he has noted that there isn’t much competition for mild steel radiators. The cost can’t be beaten, and new designer radiators give consumers plenty of variety while sticking with mild steel.

There are, of course, other materials that can be used to make radiators. Most metals conduct heat well enough for home heating. Among the most popular of the less common radiator materials are stainless steel, aluminum, and classic cast iron.

Stainless steel improves on the tendency of mild steel radiators to rust over their lifetime. The appearance of stainless steel can also be quite stylish. Longevity and looks come at a price, though, with stainless steel prices much higher than mild steel.

Stainless steel does see some use in towel warmers and a stainless steel towel warmer is an attractive feature for any bathroom. It’s also corrosion-resistant and lightweight.

The problem is cost, with large-scale manufacturing practically nonexistent.

Craig Bonnyman explains that “It would be a little bit too simplistic just to say steel is better than aluminum” because a big part of the cost savings on mild steel radiators comes from the very well-established industry and refined manufacturing techniques.

Some people even choose cast iron radiators, the same bulky appliances that mild steel radiators have replaced. While some considered these radiators unsightly when they were the only option, many now feel that they have a stylish antique charm, particularly when installed in period properties.

Alternative metal radiators provide more options for homeowners, but Bonnyman explains that the niche market keeps costs high. He tells us that manufacturing for these radiators is “not automated in the same way that steel radiators are,” entailing expensive manual work.

While change can always come in unexpected places, the mild steel radiator doesn’t seem to be going anywhere in a hurry. With alternatives much more expensive, and a new influx of designer options in mild steel, Craig Bonnyman believes they’re here to stay.

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