Design considerations for radiators in care homes

Design considerations for radiators in care homes

There is no ‘one size fits all’ approach to providing heating in care homes, because the needs of residents vary depending on the nature of the care requirements. Residential care is often provided for very specific needs, such as stroke patients or people with Alzheimer’s or other forms of dementia.

Product specification must take those needs into account and be tailored accordingly, including meeting any specific design or technical guidance. However, it’s possible to identify a number of general design features that radiators offered for use in care homes should incorporate.

Vulnerable people may naturally use a radiator for support, accidentally fall against a radiator and not be able to move themselves away, or intentionally touch a radiator but experience delayed or minimal sensation.

Low surface temperature

When the surface temperature of a traditional steel panel radiator can reach as high as 75 or 80 deg.C – enough to cause partial burns with a brief touch or severe burns with prolonged contact – any of those scenarios could be potentially dangerous.

Low surface temperature (LST) radiators are designed specifically to provide cool-touch surfaces, never exceeding 43 deg.C even if the thermostat fails.

Traditional radiators can be provided with guarding that remains cool to touch, but the guarding impacts on the efficiency of the heating. An LST radiator, by contrast, is designed specifically so as to be safe without compromising performance – and often incorporates pipework within its casing for complete peace of mind.

Protect residents from injury

It’s not just the surface temperature of a radiator that can be a risk. Any hard contact with a radiator can also cause bodily injury, especially to frail individuals.

For that reason, many LSTs also feature rounded corners and chamfered edges to help minimise the potential for injury due to unwanted contact or collision.

Efficiency and response

New-build care homes are likely to feature state-of-the-art, highly efficient boilers or heat pumps, but an existing building could be saddled with an old heating system that is being upgraded in piecemeal fashion or cannot benefit from wholesale replacement.

Radiators need to be able to make the best of whatever heating source is available, and be effective in providing care home occupants with a comfortable internal environment. They should therefore be responsive to heating controls, warming up or cooling down quickly to avoid excessive and unnecessary energy use.

A typical LST radiator uses around 10% of the water volume of a steel panel radiator, and the casing is lighter weight. These features mean the effect of temperature control is felt by occupants sooner, rather than them waiting for an extended period in uncomfortable conditions while the large mass of water in a traditional radiator changes temperature.

Aesthetics and design

Compared to protecting residents from burns or injury, aesthetics may seem like a relatively trivial item to think about.

However, any type of building can be a care home. A clean-sheet-of-paper new-build might offer freedom of product choice, but the sympathetic conversion of an historical building could impose constraints on the type of radiator, especially if it has to fit with existing features and finishes.

The wellbeing of residents is affected by their enjoyment of a space and how comfortable they feel in it, so choosing radiators that look right as well as perform to the necessary standard is an important part of the specification process.

Jaga offer a comprehensive range of low surface temperature (LST) radiators with safety features such as chamfered edges and rounded corners, for use in all types of care home accommodation. To find out more about how Jaga’s energy efficient heating technology and solutions can benefit your specifications, call 01531 631533 or visit