I have never given much though to radiator valves in the past, (as is the case with most of you I suspect), but having two traditional cast iron radiators being cleaned and delivered this weekend meant that it was something I suddenly needed to learn more about.
The scratched, paint splattered cream coloured standard plastic valves that we currently have on the two radiators that are being replaced won’t exactly go with our Victorian radiators. In terms of finish I knew I wanted black nickle, as this will go nicely with the exposed conduit going up to my light bulb wall sconce and the other metal in the area. I learnt that there are a number of traditional style thermostatic valves with lovely wood handles like the valve on the left – ranging in price from £50 to a whopping £215 – depending on how trendy looking the website was! The best price I found for one of these ‘Bently Valves’ was a still quite expensive £49.99 from Cast Iron Radiator Centre. (For a non-thermostatic valve in this style you can pay about £35-40). As an alternative to the plastic ones, I found that you can get contemporary style valves for about half the price. The top right ‘Milan Valves’ aren’t thermostatic, but come in a black nickel finish and have a nice minimal design and are available for £25 from Heat and Plumb. If you are after a thermostatic valve, the best I could find in terms of a clean line design in black nickel is the valve on the far right from West Radiators for £33.
The person we bought our radiator from said that thermostatic valves (linked to the heating system) don’t tend to work very well on Victorian radiators as they weren’t designed originally to have them, and that if the radiator is in the room with the thermostat a thermostatic valve can be problematic. As our radiators will be in the hallway where the thermostat is actually located, I’m leaning towards the non-thermostatic valve.
In other less exciting valve details – valves come in two connection types – straight and angled. This is slightly beyond my knowledge, so I’m going to ask my plumber to make sure I buy the right ones.
The other detail is the thread type – the most common being 15mm or 1/2 inch. Victorian rads typically need 1/2″ – but its worth checking.