Cat on top of a radiator with a thermostatic valve

How Does a Thermostatic Radiator Valve Work?

Radiators that feature thermostatic radiator valves are excellent for using energy effectively. They also help to save money in the long-run.

In fact, the Energy Saving Trust says that a home using these valves alongside a thermostat could save £75 per year.

If you’ve recently purchased a new thermostatic radiator valve, this will be music to your ears. But how do they actually work?

Individual Heating Controls

The simplest way to think of a thermostatic radiator valve is as an individual way of controlling the heating in a room, independently from your main thermostat.

These valves are designed to control the level of hot water that enters a stand-alone radiator in a certain room. It’s not based on what the radiator’s temperature is. It is purely measured based on that certain environment.

For example, if you were to go into a cold room, but the radiator is warm, this likely means the thermostatic radiator valve is in the process of warming up the room.

The valve will understand that it needs to up the temperature, which it will then do, regardless of what number the valve is set to. If the dial on the valve head features heating levels of 1-6, for example, the valve will heat up adjusting to the number it’s set to.

In this case, it’s best not to set the valve to the highest level, as it defeats the purpose.

The Mechanics of a Thermostatic Radiator Valve

So how do these valves actually work?

The boiler will send a heating flow via a pipe to the radiator. On this pipe, there is a nut, valve seat, and a pin. The pin will travel within the valve body and let water enter the radiator.

This pin features a taper on it – usually either rubber or copper. When pushed down, no water will flow via the valve into the radiator. If raised, it will.

It’s the job of the thermostatic radiator valve to adjust automatically where the pin level is.

The plastic dial, mentioned earlier, that features numbers on it will feature a type of metal that actually responds to the environment. If the room temperature is hot, it will expand. If cold, it will contract.

Types of Valves

These valves often feature a small wax or liquid capsule. If this gets warm, the wax or liquid will expand and push the valve down.

Others might feature a metal coil that works in the same way. The spring will contract and let the pin up, letting hot water into the radiator, when the room is too cold. The opposite will happen when the room is hot.

The favoured version tends to be the liquid capsule valves. They are considered quicker when it comes to expanding or contracting. This means they spend less time wasting hot water and so saves on cost overall. The wax alternative can be slower.

Electric valves are now becoming popular too.

Here to Help

The blog prides itself on bringing handy tips and advice to our readers.

There’s much more to be read by checking out our tips on heating your home.

If you have any further advice you’d like to share then leave a comment and let us know.

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