The difference between a Dual Fuel and an Electric Towel Rail

Electric Only Towel Rails

An electric heated towel rail comes pre-filled with a liquid and has an electrical element as its only heat source.

Some electric towel rails come filled with oil and others come filled with a water-based solution containing a mix of central heating preservatives.  Here at Trade Plumbing we believe that a water-based solution is a far more environmentally friendly method.

Once the towel rail has been filled, bungs are then placed in the filling holes to keep the mixture in.  Another benefit of water-based thermal transfer fluid is that if there is some leakage during transportation it can be easily topped up with water. The electric towel warmers here at Trade Plumbing are filled with a mixture that is strong enough to be topped up around ten times during the lifetime of the product. To prevent damage during its journey to you we always pack the towel rail element separately in your box and would always recommend ensuring this is done. Your Part P registered Plumber or Electrician will be able to fit the element in your heated towel rail with ease.

Electric Towel Rails
Dual Fuel Kits for Electric Towel Rails

Dual Fuel Towel Rails

Dual Fuel towel rail comes with no filling fluid as it is plumbed in to your central heating system allowing it to be heated by your central heating system; it also has an electrical element so it can still be used when your central heating system is not active.

In summer, most Brits switch off their central heating system. This means that the towel radiator will not warm up and dry your towels after that morning bathroom rush.  The way to keep the benefits of a heated towel rail during summer months without wasting electricity when your central heating system is being used is to fit an electric element to the towel rail, as well as have it plumbed in to the central heating circuit.  This is generally achieved by using what are called T pieces - these make it possible to run the electric element and the radiator valve onto the towel rail.

When adding a radiator or towel rail to a circuit, we recommend that you add a tube of Central Heating protector, which will help to keep the water in your central heating circuit in tiptop condition and help to prevent boiler breakdowns and corrosion of your radiators.

At Trade Plumbing as the vast majority* of our centrally  heated  towel rails can be used as Dual Fuel systems we  ask you to  choose  your towel rail from our extensive range  of centrally heated  towel  rails and then upgrade using our simple Dual Fuel Kits.

Additional Information and Recommendations for Electric and Dual Fuel Towel Rails for Bathrooms

At Trade Plumbing we recommend you install a Timer for your towel rail, so you can automate it to switch on and be ready just in time for when you need it; this helps your towel rail become more convenient as well as economical and environmentally friendly.

You will need a Fused Spur and Back Box for your towel rail if you have an electrical element. In laments terms this is a big electric switch for the wall. This is fitted to your normal domestic ring main.

So finally, you just need to decide whether you need a standard element or a digitally-controlled thermostatic element:  

Single Heat

This type of element has just one active setting ‘on’ or ‘off’. This means the purchase price is lower than those in the thermostatic range. With no heat controls this type of towel rail can become HOT to the touch. This type of element gives you all the luxury of an electric heated towel rail at an affordable price.


This type of element has thermostatic controls, so can be set to a temperature of your choice. This control system has a number of benefits including safety (especially for children) and energy conservation, potentially resulting in cheaper running costs. The temperature can be selected between 30 - 60°C in 7.5°C intervals. The MEG element comes complete with indicating LED lights and easy to use controls. This type of element gives you everything you need in terms of style and effectiveness while giving you continued piece of mind

*For a list of Towel Rails that cannot be used with Dual Fuel kits please click here