In this article we will be covering everything you need to know when it comes to specifying and purchasing electric towel bars for your next bathroom project. We’ll include everything from how to best use them through to what designs and finishes are available.
So, if you’re looking for a guide which contains everything you need to know about electric towel bars, then you are in the right place.
Ready? Let’s begin…
What we mean by an electric towel bar
‘Googling’ electric towel bar or electric towel bars can lead to some confusing search engine results because the majority of results would show electric towel rails which are different in many ways. In this blog post, when we are talking about electric towel bars we are talking about either single or double mounted as shown below. We aren’t talking about electric towel rails or electric ladder rails because we will be focussing on them in one of our future buying guides.
When is an electric towel bar a good option?
Most of the time choosing between towel bars and towel rails is based on design or style preference. Either option tend to be best suited for flats or buildings where there is difficulty in achieving the pressure needed from the central heating system or where there is no gas supply.
The primary purpose of electric towel bars is to dry towels and not as a primary heat source for a bathroom. Moisture is a catalyst for the growth for mildew and mould and is more difficult to control in humid and cold conditions. Electric towel bars remove moisture from the towel making it much more hygienic and takes away that horrible musty smell that damp towels give off.
Another great benefit of electric towel bars is that you can choose how may bars you’d like to be installed. This can range from just one to seven in total which provides a great focal point for any bathroom and a beautiful floating finish.
Finally, electric towel bars are much easier to install and require no plumbing which makes them great for renovation projects.
How do ThermoSphere electric towel bars work?
All our electric towel bars are liquid-free and heated using unique Safety Extra Low Voltage (SELV) dry elements which, when on, safely warms the metal around it. Each bar uses self-regulating heating technology that limits the maximum temperature the towel bar reaches. The self-regulating heating element saves energy by using the minimum amount of energy to regulate the temperature of the towel bar. When the towel bar is not covered by a towel the element gently heats up. When a towel is placed over the rail the element keeps heating until it reaches the maximum temperature. The self-regulating cable kicks in and stops heating and maintains a warm temperature that will dry the towel but will not overheat. Combine this with the fact that they are only 12V, and it is easy to understand why they are 50% more efficient than traditional towel bars.
The illustration below shows the difference between unregulated and self-regulating elements. This is based on the towel bar operating at full power output for approximately 50% of the time when the bar has reach operating temperature.
The design, style and colour to suit your project
From inviting the outdoors in to combining old with new, there are so many different bathroom trends out there. Fortunately, you’ll find a variety of electric towel bars of different shapes, sizes and colours to match the style you go for.
When choosing an electric towel bar, try and follow these simple steps:
- Decide if you would like single or double mounted towel bars
- Choose a profile. For example, square or round
- What finish would you like? For example, ThermoSphere electric towel bars are available in six premium finishes which come as standard. These include:
Some manufacturers offer a colour matching service so that the finish of your towel bars match the rest of the brassware. However, this is usually for larger quantities, so it is best to check the details with the manufacturer directly.
Where should you install electric towel bars in a bathroom?
There are several factors to consider such as:
- The dimensions of the towel bar
- The size and shape of the bathroom
- The position of fixtures such as the sink, bath, and toilet
When installing electric towel bars, you must comply with Ingress Protection (IP) ratings which is a standard used to measure the level of sealing effectiveness of electrical enclosures against moisture and dirt.
Electric towel bars with the 12V SELV element are perfectly safe for installation in wet areas and therefore do not have an IP rating.
Is it easy to install electric heated towel bars?
Yes, it is!
Each manufacturer will have slight variations on how their towel bars are installed. Here at ThermoSphere there are two simple ways to install both the single and double mounted electric towel bars.
With the Mounting System
For multiple towel bar installation, our unique Mounting System combines effortless levelling and alignment with smart cable management. It is fitted behind the tile layer to ensure a stylish finish for any type of bathroom project.
You can run the cables behind the mounting system and drill a hole at the top to pass them into the cavity and up to your wiring point. If you‘re installing onto a solid brick/block wall you will need to chase a channel for the cables or use multiple mounting systems to run the cables behind. Cover the wall with a backer board flush to the mounting systems before installing tiles.
With Mounting Spigots (Single ended bars)
If you are just installing just one single ended towel bar, you don’t need to use the Mounting System. Each single ended towel bar comes with everything you need, including a Mounting Spigot. The square spigot is designed to fit snuggly within the square locking mechanism inside the single ended towel bar and ensure a perfectly straight finish. This stops the bars drooping and needing tightening frequently to make them level again. In fact, ThermoSphere single ended towel bars can hold up to 30kg without suffering from permanent deflection.
With Mounting Spigots (Double ended bars)
If you are installing just one double ended towel bar, again you don’t have to use the Mounting System. Each double ended towel bar comes with fixings which allow you to install over the top of a finished tiled wall, perfect for refurbishments or additions to an already finished bathroom. If you are installing one double ended bar or multiple double ended bars with the mounting system, you will also need to purchase mounting spigots, enabling you to fit them behind the tiles. Remember you’ll need 2 per bar.
Additional points to consider before leaping headfirst into installing the towel bars include:
Install spigots before you tile
Spigots are designed for installation before tiling. You must install the fixing spigots and run cables before you tile the wall.
Ensure the spigots are level
Because the fixing spigots are installed behind the tiles, you must take extra care to make sure they are installed level. We recommend using a laser level throughout the process to check.
Use the right fixings for your wall substrate
We recommend that you fix single mounted Towel Bars to a solid wall, such as a brick/block cavity wall, a secure timber noggin within a cavity wall or a plywood/OSB panel. Use fixings that are suitable for the type of wall you are fixing to. We do not recommend fixing directly to plasterboard or tile backer boards as this can cause the fixings to move over time and result in loose towel bars.
Low voltage transformers
ThermoSphere electric Towel Bars are 12V and there is no polarity. You must install a suitably rated 12V transformer between the towel bar and the 230V supply. You can connect multiple towel bars to one transformer in parallel and the total load of the bars should be between the min and max rating of the transformer. The transformer should be somewhere accessible to facilitate replacement.
Consult your electrician!
Whenever you are dealing with any form of electrical installation, we recommend consulting with your local qualified electrician to undertake any work relating to connecting to the mains supply.
Controlling your electric heated towel bars
ThermoSphere electric Towel Bars are not a source of primary heat for your bathroom, so we would recommend installing and additional source of heat such as electric underfloor heating. If you do decide to go down this route, then a Dual Control Thermostat would be ideal to use as it allows you to control your underfloor heating and your electric towel bar(s).
How to clean your electric towel bars
For the best results we recommend cleaning the towel bar using a clean cloth that is damp with mild soapy water then dry and buff the towel bar with a clean dry cloth immediately.
Please check the manufacturer’s guidelines for towel bar aftercare guidance as advice could vary.
We hope that this article has given you some food for thought when it comes to electric towel bars. If you do have any questions, please contact our team who are always on hand with helpful advice that can save you both time and money.