Design & Planning

About Radiant Heat

Whether you are working with a Hydronic, Electric or Steam system, all of Runtal’s products use radiant heat transfer as the primary method of reaching room comfort in the living space. Unlike forced air systems and traditional convection baseboard which “heat up the air”, radiant heating provides comfort to the room occupants directly. This direct method of transferring heat is commonly known as the “radiant effect.”

Why is this IMPORTANT?

Comfort – Runtal Radiant Baseboard, Wall Panels and Towel Radiators transmit heat directly to the occupants and objects in the room. This means a comfort level can be reached at lower air temperature, similar in many ways to standing in the sun on a cool day. Anything in the room which is near the radiant baseboard now becomes warmer and transmits that heat into the space also. This is especially relevant to rooms with hard surfaces such as hardwood floors, tile and marble particularly seen in kitchens and bathrooms.

Efficiency – Because of the “direct radiant effect” and heavy steel construction of Runtal products, they are very efficient. Occupants will experience comfort at lower room air temperatures, which means less energy wasted trying to make “hot air” as in the case of traditional convective baseboard and ducted furnace systems.  Furthermore, because of the heavy steel construction, the products become a “heat storage” source. Once it is heated up, it retains heat for a much longer time than traditional, light sheet metal products.

Indoor Air Quality and Health – As mentioned above Runtal Radiators do NOT rely on air flow as a primary means of reaching comfort. As a result, they do not promote the spread of indoor airborne particulate (dust, mites, pet dander, allergens) such as traditional convection baseboard.

Rules of Thumb when Selecting Radiators

Runtal offers a wide selection of “stock” as well as “made to order” radiators. To size the radiators, it is necessary to calculate a house’s heat requirement. This calculation, measured in BTU/Hour, should be done on a room-by-room basis. Either a heating contractor or a qualified plumber can do this.

Rules of Thumb for Regions of the Country

  • New England, Upper Midwest, or Southern Ontario: 40 BTUH per square foot of floor area

  • New York City to Philadelphia: 40 BTUH

  •  Philadelphia to Washington, DC: 35 BTUH

  • San Francisco to Seattle: 25 BTUH

Choosing the Radiator Style

First, determine the height and length of the wall area you want to use for the radiator(s).

Second, divide the BTUH requirement of the room by the total length of wall space chosen for radiator placement. This will establish the BTUH per foot required.

Third, select a model which has a BTUH per foot rating within ±10% of the level calculated for the unit (Note that BTUH for the vertical panel is per foot of HEIGHT while others are per foot of LENGTH).


Calculating BTUH Output for Different Water Temperatures

The BTUH outputs are listed for 180 F Degrees water temperature. The following chart may be used to calculate the BTUH outputs for different water temperatures. Simply multiply the correction factor which matches your average system water temperature.                           


120F       0.38                                     160F         0.78                              

130F       0.48                                     170F         0.89

140F       0.57                                     180F         1

150F       0.67                                     190F         1.13                            

Radiator Selection (PDF)

Baseboard Design

Runtal’s Baseboard style is ideal for those desiring a low profile. As a retrofit, Runtal baseboard is a natural replacement for fin-tube or cast iron. In these cases, it is often easiest to use the existing pipe and simply order the appropriate length.  Depending upon the heat output, or the desired design “look”, Runtal will supply baseboard styles ranging from 1 to 4 tubes high for Hydronic systems, and 3 tubes high for electric systems in a variety of standard lengths and color options offer a design and comfort solution for almost any application.

Visit our Design Assistance and Custom Products page for information on how we can create a custom solution to fit your needs. Our baseboard style is available in special lengths and over 90 colors, including metallic finishes.

Wall Panel Design

Unlike baseboard designs which are typically for “long and low applications” Runtal’s Wall Panel style generally suit areas where short and higher fit the room design. Wall Panels are ideal for placement under windows or on walls where floor space is at a premium. When placed under windows, wall panels help eliminate cold spots and drafts while allowing curtains to hang to the floor. Wall panel radiators are available in a variety of heights and widths to suit most any need.

Visit our Design Assistance and Custom Products page for information on how we can create a custom solution to fit your needs. Our wall panel style is available in special lengths and over 90 colors, including metallic finishes.

Vertical Panel Design

Runtal’s Vertical Panels are ideal for situations where floor space is limited such as entryways and kitchens and can be incorporated as an enhancement to the room design or conveniently hidden. They are often found mounted behind a door or on a column.  Offering a unique vertical-linear appearance Vertical Panels offer a modern, distinguished appearance.

Visit our Design Assistance and Custom Products page for information on how we can create a custom solution to fit your needs. Our vertical panel style is available in special lengths and over 90 colors, including metallic finishes.

Column Radiators Design

Runtal’s Column Radiators are an ideal solution where the view in is as important as the view out. Where the design calls for floor to ceiling glass, column radiators may be pedestal mounted in front of the glass without obstructing the view. Column radiators may also be used as room dividers or balustrade. They may be either wall mounted, or pedestal mounted both on the bottom as well as the top of the radiator. Please visit our Design Assistance and Custom Products page for more information on our Column Radiator options.

Towel Radiator Design

Runtal Towel Radiators are both decorative heaters and towel warmers. Whether you need to heat an entire room, dry laundry, or simply relax in the luxury of a warm towel, Runtal Towel Radiators have no equal. Towel radiators provide an attractive, and versatile means for heating bathrooms, kitchens, laundry rooms and really any room where comfort is paramount and space is limited. Towel radiators are also offered for both Hydronic Systems and as self-contained electric versions which are perfect for off season heating (such as Spring or Fall) or for situations where a forced hot water heating system is impractical.

Steam Radiator Design/Replacement

In buildings where steam systems provide the source of heat, our line of steam products offer a convenient robust alternative to bulky, old-style cast-iron radiators.


Purchase any of our handcrafted stocked Runtal White radiators directly from the factory, for quick delivery, or choose from a variety of 9 standard colors for 2-week delivery.

Design Assistance & Custom Products

Runtal Radiators can be custom designed to fit your exact specifications. Choose from an endless variety of colors, including select metallic finishes. Our experts will assist you with finding the exact size, heat capacity and décor your are looking for.

Contact us for more information