Are you wondering what’s best for your home – how horizontal radiators vs vertical radiators?

If so, there are various things to consider before making your choice. One of the biggest is the difference in heat output between these two different styles – which isn’t something a lot of people actually know about.

There are other factors to consider, though.

As an experienced engineer who’s spent over 20 years fitting radiators in the Edinburgh area, I’m going to tell you more about horizontal radiators vs vertical radiators, below.

Horizontal radiators

By horizontal radiators, I’m talking about your standard white pressed steel radiators – the type that 90% of my customers opt for. Below, I’ve listed some of the main things to consider about horizontal radiators before setting your heart on them:

  • They’re reasonably priced and readily available
  • They’re a very basic, no frills option
  • They come in various sizes and outputs
  • They can come with fins (but they don’t have to)
  • There are various styles available – some more suited to allergy sufferers than others!
  • Some of the terms people use to describe them can be confusing – like K1, K2 and P+
  • Most engineers will happily supply and fit these for you

TIP: For more on the pros and cons of white pressed steel panel radiators, check out my blog on the subject *INSERT LINK* 

Vertical radiators

Now, onto vertical radiators. These can come in a various of different looks, and people typically choose them because of their style. However, there are some things you should know about vertical radiators before making your choice:

  • They’re always more expensive
  • They typically don’t give out the same heat output as horizontal – so you may need more of ’em!
  • They can be slower to heat
  • They’re often special order which means you may have to wait six weeks for delivery (and pay in advance!)
  • They might not be a good fit with some regular boilers, as being tall they could draw air
  • They’re often heavy, so good wall mountings are paramount
  • You’re best to look online and order them direct – although an engineer can help you if you’d prefer

TIP: With vertical radiators, some valves come out the sides just like horizontal radiators, adding 80mm to the overall size. Some require straight-through valves which come off the bottom of the radiator, meaning the pipe distances will be shorter than the width of the radiator. Always check!

Advice from an experienced engineer

If you’re unsure of which radiators you prefer, or the outputs you need, get an engineer to visit and advise you. You may even be able to take sizes of the room and a few photos to email to the engineer so they can give you advice that way.

I had a client recently where we put pipes in the exact position for the radiator, but when the tiler tiled the floor, the pipes were out by 20mm. This added an extra two hours work onto the job. Luckily, we didn’t have to remove tiles to alter the pipes.

On the same job, the walls were also very poor, so we had to use extra long screws to get a fixing to take the weight off the radiator. These are just extra little complications that not everyone thinks about when getting new radiators.


I hope you’ve found this blog helpful when it comes to horizontal radiators vs vertical radiators. There’s a lot to think about when making the right choice for your home, but not everyone’s aware of how complicated a decision it can be! If you do go for vertical radiators, get your engineer’s advice to ensure you won’t be underheating your home.

Do you have any other questions that I haven’t answered above? If so, leave me a comment below. I’d love to hear from you!