The Complete Guide to Towel Warmers

Not too long ago, towel warmers were a feature of luxury hotels, spas and grand living spaces – not to be seen in the ordinary North American bathroom, that’s for sure. Fast-forward to 2021 and they’re a common fixture in homes of all shapes and sizes, and it’s easy to see why. A heated towel rail doesn’t just keep towels warm: it can heat your entire bathroom space and act as a gorgeous design feature all at the same time. 

If you’re considering enhancing your living space with a heated towel rack, then you can have some real fun selecting styles and finishes to bring that sanctuary-feel to your home. But if you’re wondering about the more technical aspects, we’ve covered some of the most frequently asked questions around heated towel warmer installations here. 


Do I need an electric or hydronic model?

Towel warmers are either electric hardwired, electric plug-in or hydronic. Firstly, you should consider your power and water sources to ensure your towel warmer can be plugged in or connected to your boiler system plumbing when deciding on placement. 

The most popular choice for towel warmers is electric hardwired or electric plug-in models. They’re super easy to install and all they take is the flick of a switch to get to work. Electric heated towel racks are also available with 7-day programmable controllers, so they’re convenient and can be programmed to be on whenever you need them. 

If you’re opting for a hydronic model, then you’ll need to connect the towel warmer to your boiler system plumbing. You can install through wall or floor feed pipes, so it’s a good idea to understand what the best option is before you make your decision.

There are three key points you (and your plumber) should be aware of when ordering and preparing to rough-in for a hydronic towel warmer:

  • It should be on a closed loop, to accommodate the anti-rust inhibitor you will need to add to the loop. (A closed water system does not feed your taps or household appliances – it is a dedicated circuit which supplies heating only and has usually a glycol-based solution inside)
  • The water temperature should be around 158°F
  • You’ll need to order a set of valves and an installation pack to complete your towel warmer

If you cannot accommodate these three points, we recommend installing the electric towel warmer version instead.


How warm is my heated towel rail?

It’s worth noting that different types of towel warmers have different heat outputs. If you’re looking for a secondary heat source, as well as warm fluffy towels, then our liquid-filled Tuzio towel warmers will do the job perfectly. Our Kontour range is more economical, and utilises electric wire heating to keep towels toasty, but won’t act as a secondary heat source for your bathroom. 

Generally, our towel warmers will begin heating as soon as they are switched on, and heat can be felt in 10 minutes. They’ll usually take between 20–40 minutes to reach maximum heat, depending on the air temperature within the room and the size of the towel warmer. 

Once warmed up, the surface temperatures of our Tuzio towel warmers are regulated between 45°C and 55°C, depending on the finish, size, and model. While it will be very hot to the touch, it won’t cause burns or injuries if you accidentally touch it in operation. If you have concerns, just check the surface temperature to ensure if it falls within the range above and you’re good to go!


Where can I fit my towel warmer?

Towel warmers come in all shapes and sizes, so you’ll be able to get a model that fits exactly where you want it to. Depending on whether you opt for an electric or hydronic model, you’ll have to consider the locations of feed pipes and power outlets in your space. 

The power cord for an electric plug-in towel warmer is between 4’ and 5’ long, so you’ll have some flexibility when it comes to placement. A good plumber will be able to advise on the best location for hydronic models in relation to your feed pipes. 

There’s no right or wrong height to mount your towel warmer, but this is the general guide we follow for aesthetically pleasing results: 


Can I set a timer for my heated towel rack?

One of the most useful features of towel warmers is the programmable timer! A controller allows you to program on and off times for each day, so every morning you wake up to a cosy bathroom and a warm towel waiting for you.  Our 7-day Wi-Fi timers can be controlled from your smartphone or voice-assistant, so you won’t even need to move a muscle to set your timer for the week. 


What will I need to install my heated towel rail?

ICO towel warmers are simple to install and come with full installation instructions. Different models have different installation requirements, so it’s worth checking your instructions first to make sure you’ve got everything you need. 

If you’re installing a hydronic model, then you’ll need a set of valves (either floor or wall depending on your feed pipes) and a standard 24” installation pack that can be cut to size and works with all ICO valves. If you’re opting for a Traditional Tuzio towel warmer, then you’ll require a traditional gate valve. 

Our customer service team are experts when it comes to installation, so if you’re having trouble or just need a little clarification, then get in touch and we’ll put your mind at ease. 


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We’re passionate about bringing beautiful bathrooms to homes across North America. Whether you’re redesigning from scratch, or just adding those finishing touches, choose ICO for luxury, comfort and design.


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