5 min read

A guide to specifying and installing heated single towel rails

A guide to specifying and installing heated single towel rails

There are many types of towel rails and they come in many different shapes and sizes. Towel rails provide an added bit of luxury to a bathroom at a very affordable price. With such a wide range of styles and colour choices, towel bars can become a real focal point in any bathroom, no matter what taste you have.

For this electric heating article, we are going to be focussing on electric single towel rails. Or, as we like to call them, ‘electric towel bars’. We’ll be covering:

  • When to choose single towel rails
  • How electric single towel rails work (specifically ThermoSphere’s)
  • Where to install single towel rails in your bathroom
  • How to install electric single towel rails
  • Controlling electric single towel rails
  • How to maintain them

When to choose single towel rails

The purpose of electric single towel rails is to dry towels and not as a primary heat source for a bathroom. So, if you are wanting to warm the room, consider something like electric underfloor heating instead. Single towel rails are usually 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. Also, simply as they're easier to install, because there's no need to extend central heating circuits or cut tiles around pipes.

Single towel rails not only provide you with warm towels, but they also have hygiene and ‘smell benefits’. Why’s that? Moisture is a catalyst for mildew and mould, which is more difficult to control in humid and cold conditions, such as those in bathrooms. Electric single towel rails remove moisture from the towel making it much more hygienic and takes away that horrible musty smell that damp towels often give off.

When it comes to design preference, there really is something for everyone, especially with ThermoSphere’s range of single towel rails:

  • Choose between the single or double mounted options
  • Select either a square or rounded profile
  • Decide which finish you’d like. You can choose between six premium finishes which come as stand. These include; Diamond Polished Stainless Steel, Brushed Stainless Steel, Diamond Polished Brass, Brushed Brass, Matt Black and Matt White.
  • Choose how many single towel rails you’d like to be installed. This can range from one to seven which provides a great focal point for any bathroom and a beautiful floating finish.

Towel rail finishes

How electric single towel rails work

Electric single bar towel rails are liquid-free and most are connected directly to the mains electricity. When turned on, electricity flows through the heating element, warming the air inside. The heat radiates outwards, warming the single towel rail and the towel on it. You’ll find that there are single towel rails that allow temperature control, but most operate at 230V and use unregulated heating elements. ThermoSphere single towel rails work slightly differently.

Along with being liquid-free, ThermoSphere’s electric single towel rails are heated using unique Safety Extra Low Voltage (SELV) dry elements which, when on, safely warm the stainless steel around them. They use self-regulating technology which limits the maximum temperature, therefore saving energy and reducing running costs. 

The difference between regulated and unregulated technology

This illustration shows the difference between unregulated and self-regulating elements. This is based on the single towel rail operating at full power output for approximately 50% of the time, when the bar has reached operating temperature.

Self regulating towel rail comparison graph

When not covered by a towel the element gently heats up. When a towel is placed over the single towel rail, the element keeps heating until it reaches the maximum temperature. The self-regulating technology kicks in, stops heating and maintains a warm temperature that will dry the towel but will not overheat. The self-regulating heating element saves energy by using the minimum amount of energy to regulate the temperature of the single towel rail.

Where to install them in your bathroom

When you’re considering installing electric single towel rails in a bathroom, you’ll need to comply with Ingress Protection (IP) ratings.

Zone

IP Rating

Description

Zone 0

IPX7 / IP67

Inside the shower or bath areas. Must protect against partial or total immersion in water.

Zone 1

IPX4 / IP65

Above the bath or shower to a height of 2.25m. Must be protected from water spray in all directions.

Zone 2

IPX7 / IP44

0.6m radius outside the shower or bath area where electrical products must be protected from water spray in all directions.


Single towel rails with a 12V SELV element are safe to install in wet areas and do not have an IP rating, however the heating element is manufactured with IP67 waterproof heat shrink connections.

Other factors to consider include:

  • The size and shape of the bathroom
  • The dimensions of the single towel rail and how many you want to install
  • The position of fixtures such as the sink, bath, and toilet

Where to install Towel Rail

How to install electric single towel rails

Depending on what brand of single towel rail you are looking to install, there will be slight variations on how they are installed. With ThermoSphere single towel rails there are two simple ways to install them, no matter if they are the single or double mounted versions.

Single mounted

Each single towel rail comes with everything you need to install before the wall is tiled. This includes a square mounting spigot with each towel rail, which is designed to fit snuggly within the square lock inside of the single towel rail. This ensures a straight, level finish and stops any drooping which can occur when single towel rails use anything but square mounting spigots.

Double mounted

Each double mounted version of a single towel rail comes with fixings that allow you to install over the top of a finished wall. However, if you’re installing more than one towel rail and you haven’t already tiled the wall, we would recommend using our unique, patented Mounting System for a hassle-free installation and perfectly level finish.

Using the Mounting System

If you are planning on installing multiple single towel rails for an eye-catching display, we would recommend using our patented mounting system which combines effortless levelling and alignment with unbeatable cable management.

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.

The thickness of all layers that are installed over the fixing spigot mounting plate must not exceed 28mm. If you don‘t leave enough spigot protruding from the wall, you won‘t be able to secure the towel bars properly.

Watch our step by step Towel Rail installation video guides.

Additional points to consider before installation

Don’t fix on plasterboard or tile backer boards!

If you try to fix single towel rails to plasterboard or tile backer board, there is risk that the fixings move over time which will cause the towel bars to loosen and droop. We recommend fixing them to:

  • Brick / block cavity wall
  • Secure timber noggin within a cavity wall
  • Plywood / OSB panel

Remember to always use the appropriate fixing for the type of wall you are fixing to. 

Planning to tile? Install spigots first

If you are planning to install ThermoSphere’s single towel rails, specifically the single mounted versions, you must install the spigots and run the cables prior to tiling. There is no option to install these types of single mounted towel rails on top of a tiled wall.

Transformers are a must!

ThermoSphere single towel rails are 12V DC and there is no polarity. Therefore, you will need to install a suitably rated 12V transformer between the towel bar and the power supply. If you are installing multiple single towel rails, you can connect them to one transformer in parallel, up to the maximum load of the transformer. Just remember to install the transformer somewhere accessible in case a replacement is needed.

Recommended tiling depth

The maximum depth of the tiled wall layers that will be situated over the fixing spigot is 28mm. This includes any boards, tile adhesive and the tiles. Limiting the tiling depth ensures that there is enough spigot protruding from the wall to achieve a good, strong fixing to the towel bar.

Ask your electrician

Consult your local qualified electrician to undertake any work relating to the mains power supply.


Towel Bar Installation_1

Controlling your electric single towel rails

As mentioned earlier in this blog, electric single bar rails shouldn’t be installed as a primary heat source for your bathroom, so we would recommend installing a complementary system such as electric underfloor heating too. By going down this route, you’ll not only have luxury comfort but, you can control your underfloor heating and single towel rail(s) with one thermostat by using ThermoSphere’s Dual Control.

Dual Control thermostat

How to maintain them

Aftercare guidance may vary between manufacturers. However, if you are installing any of ThermoSphere’s single towel rails, clean them using a clean damp cloth with mild soapy water, then immediately dry and buff the towel bar with a clean dry cloth.

Towel Rail Maintenance

Questions?

If you have a question, or even questions about specifying, buying or installing electric single towel rails please contact one of the ThermoSphere team who will be happy to help. 

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