What is a Heated Towel Rail?

Anna B. Smith
Anna B. Smith
Man with hands on his hips
Man with hands on his hips

A heated towel rail is a drying rack designed to keep warm and dry any fabric item, such as a towel or robe, which is laid on top of it. This piece of equipment resembles a standard towel rack and consists of between two and seven rails mounted between two parallel upright bars. The heated towel rail may be freestanding or installed against a wall. Freestanding units often include warming panels in addition to heated rails that aid in heat retention. This type of warmer needs only to be plugged into an electrical outlet to function properly, and are typically sold in local bathroom accessory stores and on the Internet.

A mounted heated towel rail may fasten to the wall only, or to the wall and the floor. A double wall and floor assembly is often required for larger units. The upper portion of the two support bars is bracketed against the wall, while the lower portion is bolted to the floor. This allows the rails to support bulkier items, which may have increased in weight when getting wet.

Heat is best transmitted from the heated towel rail to any additional item by folding the item between two towels. This creates a pocket of warmth around the towel or clothing, and helps to hold heat into the fabric until the user is ready to remove it from the rack. Fabric items may be dried by laying them over the heated rail in a single layer. The heat then passes through the material quickly, taking moisture with it simultaneously. Material may be folded between two towels to achieve maximum heat transfer when warming items. Arranging material in single layers should be used to dry wet fabric instead of warm it.

This product is available in a wide variety of finishes to suit most any bathroom decor. The heated towel rail may be purchased in chrome, bronze, or nickel in a brushed pattern, oil rubbed, or satin. These finishes are standard for both freestanding and wall mounted units.

The rack typically requires about the same amount of electricity as a standard light bulb to operate. When towels and clothing are laid on the rails, they tend to hold heat in easily. The units are energy efficient and safe enough to allow continuous operation. Most units also provide an on and off switch for owners who prefer to turn them on only as they prepare to use them. Electric warmers require an hour to reach maximum heat temperature in the rails and radiate that heat adequately to any draped towels or clothing, and oil powered warmers may need several hours before they are ready to use.

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