Thermostats for Radiators
Richard Trethewey recommends thermostatic valves for hot-water heating
My house is heated by hot-water radiators, so I was intrigued when I saw Richard Trethewey installing thermostatic valves that “make each radiator its own zone.” Would it make sense to put those valves in our upstairs bedrooms?
—Bernard E. Smallwood, Islip, NY
Absolutely! And by doing so, you’d save energy and be much more comfortable.
One problem with many of the hot-water radiator systems in use today is that much of the heat goes straight from the boiler up to the radiators on the top floor, leaving the rest of the house in a chill.
With a thermostatic valve on the incoming pipe of each upstairs radiator, however, the valve senses when the room has reached its temperature setting and automatically restricts the flow of hot water. The radiator doesn’t overheat; it just silently emits a steady, comfortable warmth that would be the envy of anyone living with forced-air heat. The side benefit of limiting the flow of hot water upstairs is that hotter water flows through the downstairs radiators, keeping those spaces more comfortable, too.
Thermostatic valves, which were developed and perfected in Europe, have an adjustable dial for setting the radiator temperature. The dial has numbers from 0 to 5. The midpoint—3—represents about 66 degrees F. It may take a few tries to find the setting that works best for each room, but once you do, you can leave it be.
Now, if you have radiator covers, you’ll need a slightly different type of valve: one with a separate dial mounted on the outside of the cover. The dial connects to a temperature sensor that hangs inside the cover, and to the valve on the radiator’s pipe.