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Remodeling 101: Towel Warmers

by LiveModern Webmaster last modified Feb 04, 2015 01:04 AM
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by Janet Hall last modified Feb 03, 2015

Last week we presented 15 Luxuries Worth Considering in Your Remodel . Here's an affordable extra to add to the list: the heated towel bar. Most commonly called towel warmers, these appliances easily integrate into bathrooms of all sizes and sorts, no remodel required. Above: Swiss company Runtal offers a wide range of towel-warmer designs, including this coat-hanger shape. Why consider a towel warmer? Who doesn't enjoy being cloaked in warmth after a shower or bath? And beyond the spa comforts, heated towel bars offer these benefits: They reduce mildew by drying towels more rapidly, keeping them fresher. Act as a supplemental heater in your bathroom, providing a soft ambient warmth that reduces mold-inducing dampness. Gently dry delicate clothing and swimwear. Accelerate drying of wet outerwear, such as coats and gloves—making towel warmers worth considering for mudrooms and laundry rooms.  Above: A wall-mounted towel warmer (similar to Waterwork's Universal Towel Warmer ) in a diminutive bath. Photograph via  Drummonds . How do towel warmers work? There are two basic types: electric and hydronic. Both systems heat the towel rail from the inside out, are highly efficient, and have low energy consumption. As an added feature, many towel warmers are equipped with auto shut-off timers and thermostats.   Above: Exposed copper hot water pipes act as a homemade hydronic towel warmer in this  Berlin bathroom  by  Karhard Architecture & Design . Electric towel warmers are self-contained units that operate independently from your heating system. They contain electric-powered, low-watt elements within the towel rail. Some use a "dry" element that heats wire installed in the tubes of the towel bars, while others use a "wet" element to heat oil or water inside the towel rail. Both types of electric towel warmers can be operated with an on/off switch or with a timer.  Hydronic towel warmers are connected to either hot-water plumbing or radiant-heating systems. Like a radiator, the hot water runs through the towel bars, providing even and consistent warmth.     Above: A wall-mounted towel warmer is at the ready in a renovated rectory in Sussex . Are towel warmers tricky to install? The complexity of installing towel warmers depends on the heating source and mounting style. Some simply plug in like a toaster, while others require professional installation and connection to your home's plumbing or electrical systems. Electric towel warmers are available as either hardwired or plug-in units. Hydronic towel warmers are best installed during a remodel.   Above: Freestanding towel warmers offer the most flexibility in placement and the most ease in installation. All models are electric and most are of the plug-in variety. They can be moved to a laundry room for drying delicates, and to the back door to heat up winter scarves and coats before you heat out into the cold. Photograph via  Mr. Steam . Are there different configurations? Towel warmers are available in three mounting styles: wall-hung, floor-mounted, and freestanding. All three are available in hardwired or plug-in electric versions. Because they're connected to plumbing, hydronic towel warmers must be mounted to the wall or floor. A wide variety of styles and sizes are available for everything from powder rooms to bustling family baths. Above: A great choice for space-constrained baths, wall-mounted towel warmers are an easy replacement for standard towel bars and shelves. This modern wall unit in a bathroom remodel in San Francisco's Telegraph Hill by Moroso Construction is an easy-to-install electric plug-in model.  Above: Floor-mounted towel warmers (braced to the wall on top) pair well with freestanding tubs. Photograph via Light Locations . Above: Shelf-style towel warmers are a great choice for small spaces. For more options, see Toasty Towels, Courtesy of Warming Shelves .  How much do towel warmers cost? Prices range from $40 to $4,000, depending on installation requirements (mounting type and heating source), size, style, and make. A surprising number of options are available in the $150 to $300 range, but high-end, architect-designed models can run ten or more times higher. For sources, take a look at  Hudson Reed , Quality Bath , Home & Stone , and Only Towel Warmers , all of which have a wide range on offer.    Above: Towels slide easily onto the bars of the  Amba Swivel Jack Plug-In Towel Warmer ; $169.95 at Only Towel Warmers. Above: On the other end of the spectrum, the Vola Stainless Steel Towel Warmer  for hydronic heating systems is $4,166.25 at Quality Bath. Above: Bath-side heated towel rails warm a bath at the  Soho House Berlin . For more, see Steal This Look: Soho House Berlin Bath . Considering bathroom enhancements? Take a look at: Built-In vs. Freestanding Bathtubs 10 Easy Pieces: Classic Freestanding Bathtubs 10 Easy Pieces: Modern Freestanding Bathtubs Where to Locate Electrical Outlets: Bathroom Edition   And if it's warmth you're after, see our primers on: Tankless Water Heaters Flat-Panel Radiators 5 Things to Know About Radiant Floor Heating Space Heaters with Style   More Stories from Remodelista Steal This Look: A Tiny Utilitarian Bathroom New Bath Hardware from Norm Architects: The Towel Ladder and More 10 Easy Pieces: Classic Black Metal Sconces






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