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Glass &Windows Selection


RADIATORS, convectors, and baseboard and finned-tube units are heat-distributing devices used in steam and low-temperature water heating systems. They supply heat through a combination of radiation and convection and maintain the desired air temperature and/or mean radiant temperature in a space without fans.. In low-temperature systems, radiant panels are also used. Units are inherently self- adjusting in the sense that heat output is based on temperature differentials; cold spaces receive more heat and warmer spaces receive less heat.


The term radiator, while generally confined to sectional cast-iron column, large-tube, or small-tube units, also includes flat panel types and fabricated steel sectional types. Small-tube radiators, with a length of only 1.75 in. per section, occupy less space than column and large-tube units and are particularly suited to installation in recesses .Column, wall-type, and large-tube radiators are no longer manufactured, although many of these units are still in use.

The following are the most common types of radiators:

Sectional radiators are fabricated from welded sheet metal sections (generally 2, 3, or 4 tubes wide), and resemble freestanding cast-iron radiators.

Panel radiators consist of fabricated flat panels (generally 1, 2, or 3 deep), with or without an exposed extended fin surface attached to the rear for increased output. These radiators are most common in Europe.

Tubular steel radiators consist of supply and return headers with interconnecting parallel steel tubes in a wide variety of lengths and heights. They may be specially shaped to coincide with the building structure. Some are used to heat bathroom towel racks.

Specialty radiators are fabricated of welded steel or extruded aluminum and are designed for installation in ceiling grids or floor mounting. An array of unconventional shapes is available.

Pipe Coils

Pipe coils have largely been replaced by finned tubes.


A convector is a heat-distributing unit that operates with gravity circulated air (natural convection). It has a heating element with a large amount of secondary surface and contains two or more tubes with headers at both ends. The heating element is surrounded by an enclosure with an air inlet opening below and an air outlet opening above the heating element.

Convectors are made in a variety of depths, sizes, and lengths and in enclosure or cabinet types. The heating elements are available in fabricated ferrous and nonferrous metals. The air enters the enclosure below the heating element, is heated in passing through the element, and leaves the enclosure through the outlet grille located above the heating element. Factory-assembled units comprising a heating element and an enclosure have been widely used.
These may be freestanding, wall-hung, or recessed and may have outlet grilles or louvers and arched inlets or inlet grilles or louvers, as desired.

Baseboard Units

Baseboard (or baseboard radiation) units are designed for installation along the bottom of walls in place of the conventional baseboard. They may be made of cast iron, with a substantial portion of the front face directly exposed to the room, or with a finned-tube element in a sheet metal enclosure. They operate with gravity-circulated room air.

Baseboard heat-distributing units are divided into three types: radiant, radiant convector, and finned tube. The radiant unit, which is made of aluminum, has no openings for air to pass over the wall side of the unit. Most of this unit’s heat output is by radiation.

The radiant-convector baseboard is made of cast iron or steel.
The units have air openings at the top and bottom to permit circulation of room air over the wall side of the unit, which has extended surface to provide increased heat output. A large portion of the heat emitted is transferred by convection.

The finned-tube baseboard has a finned-tube heating element concealed by a long, low sheet metal enclosure or cover. A major portion of the heat is transferred to the room by convection. The output varies over a wide range, depending on the physical dimensions and the materials used. A unit with a high relative output per unit length compared to overall heat loss (which would result in a concentration of the heating element over a relatively small area) should be avoided. Optimum comfort for room occupants is obtained when units are installed along as much of the exposed wall as possible.

Finned-Tube Units

Finned-tube (or fin-tube) units are fabricated from metallic tubing, with metallic fins bonded to the tube. They operate with gravity-circulated room air. Finned-tube elements are available in several tube sizes, in either steel or copper—1 to 2 in. nominal steel or 3/4 to 1 1/4 in. nominal copper—with various fin sizes, spacings, and materials. The resistance to the flow of steam or water is the same as that through standard distribution piping of equal size and type.



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