Sunday, 3 June 2012

Good Design v Bad Design

.........or my award winning covers v traditional radiator covers.

First off lets define what we mean by a traditional style radiator cover, basically a MDF box with a grille of some sort at the front. Still not sure? A Google image search will produce hundreds of examples, every 'man and his dog' seems to make or sell them. The idea is that the box hides the radiator, the warmth radiates out of the grill, you gain a shelf and they are cheap to buy, so far so good.

But is that the whole story? Well, no. Time for some design.

What is good design? In my opinion good design elegantly solves a problem or in other words it works and looks great.

So what is the problem we are trying to solve? In a nutshell, to hide the ugly radiator without seriously effecting the heating performance.

A traditional cover will hide a radiator, it is however debatable if they are visually more appealing that the offending radiator. What about the effect on the heating performance? This is where is gets interesting.

Modern radiators (the standard white ones most people have) despite their name mostly work by convection. Simply put, convection is cold air in at the bottom of the radiator and hot air out of the top, the hot air circulates around the room before cooling, falling to floor level where the cycle starts again. The fixed shelf on top of a traditional cover stops the convection cycle, the performance of your radiator has now been seriously impaired.

So, what about my award winning radiator covers? Firstly my covers are open at the bottom and allow the hot air directly out of the top, the convection cycle is not interrupted and your radiators work as designed. Do they look good? I like to think so, but you be the judge!

Finally the issue of cost.  You can buy a traditional style cover very cheaply, however the associated reduced performance of the radiators will mean running your heating system longer to warm a room.

Good design may not be cheap but bad design can be expensive!

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