Low surface temperature radiators - warmth and safety

Low surface temperature radiators have been part of the heating landscape for several years now, but modern versions offer a number of new benefits. LST radiators are key where there is a need for special heat emitters that are ideal for safety critical environments – especially those that need to meet NHS Guidance for ‘Safe Hot Water and surface temperature’ –  hospitals, care and nursing homes, doctors and dentists surgeries as well as sheltered housing, schools and nurseries and other public buildings including police stations, young offenders institutes and prisons. It’s a specification requirement of building designers and architects that the heat emitters in these buildings protect the young, the elderly and the vulnerable, who will live in or visit buildings such as these.

When asking whether LST radiators are needed, you only need to consider the risk of in particular, older people falling and injuring themselves on a radiator along with potential dangers from those with a visual impairment bumping into or brushing against radiators. Some elderly people have a reduced sensitivity to high temperatures and others simply cannot react quickly enough to prevent injury from hot surfaces if they inadvertently touch and come into contact with a conventional radiator, where surface temperatures may be as high as 75°C. Older people and those suffering injuries have an increased susceptibility to losing their balance and falling, and the possibility of these people falling and becoming trapped against a conventional radiator brings the need for LST radiators sharply into focus. And of course, the injuries that are possible to the very young are too horrific to contemplate, so it’s clear that serious burns can be caused very quickly at these temperatures and that LST radiators are the obvious response to the dangers.

Low surface temperature radiators are clearly a highly effective way of guarding hot surfaces and eliminating the dangers of burning people who are in the vicinity, whether in their homes or in a public building. Incorporating a casing that covers the radiator providing a physical barrier between the heat emitter and the people they are designed to keep warm, makes huge sense, and in most LST radiators, the casing also covers the incoming pipework making sure all the heated surfaces are concealed and that any exposed surfaces stay at a safe temperature of no more than 43°C.

Any concerns about building a radiator within a protective boxed area are unfounded. It has to be remembered that the term ‘radiator’ isn’t the best name for the product. Only 20% of the heat generated by a standard radiator is actually radiant heat – 80% is caused by convection – cooler air being ‘dragged up’ behind and through the radiator in convection currents, warming the air as it flows. By sizing the radiator correctly a low surface temperature radiator will achieve the comfort warmth level required in a room or area quite easily.

In addition to protecting vulnerable people from the heat dangers associated with radiators that may have a higher surface temperature, LST radiators need to be designed to ensure they offer as much protection as possible to those for whom they are designed to provide heating – to include ensuring rounded corners and edges to the design to avoid damage from sharp edges.

Ideally, each LST emitter should provide high outputs through convection for outstanding heat performance and be guaranteed to perform to a maximum working pressure of 116 psi (8 bar) and conform to BE EN 442 – the European standard for radiators. You should be looking for each LST radiator to offer a minimum of a 5 year manufacturer’s guarantee.

Bearing in mind where many LST radiators are installed, it’s vital that they are built to be robust and able to withstand and resist vandalism and day to day wear and tear, from being knocked into by trolleys and wheelchairs – especially in hospitals and nursing homes. With those manufactured by Stelrad, the casing is held by security fittings that are quick and easy to install. The security fittings have a unique seam fixing bracket system that prevents unauthorised access to the emitter accommodated inside. In addition, Stelrad LST radiators – for additional protection – have an additional long lasting, anti-bacterial paint coating, which provides an additional valuable benefit for the environments in which they are installed.

Traditionally, LST radiators have been conventional horizontal radiators, but in response to the market from an aesthetic point of view and taking into consideration space restrictions on site, Stelrad has introduced a range of vertical LST radiators which have been met warmly by building designers and architects. Each of the designs is more than 2 metres in height and comes in ‘LST Plus’ specification offering an integral remote sensing thermostat valve which can be pre-set to allow adjustment or to match room temperature.

LST radiators are a straightforward, ‘no brainer’ response to a lot of environments where safety is the key at the design stage.


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