Cost Advisor

Steel Radiators VS Aluminium Review

June 13, 2018

Before you start picking out a design or finish for your radiators, an important first decision to make is what material your radiator is made of. Different materials drastically affect your home’s heating and overall efficiency.

Your major options are: cast iron, steel, stainless steel and aluminium. Let’s take a closer look at these materials based on the following factors:


Steel is an efficient conductor, which means heat travels through it quicker. Put in another way, a radiator made out of steel very easily conducts heat and has a “stove effect” which keeps the room warm for a longer time after your turn off your central heating. This makes it not only efficient but cost effective as well.

On the other hand, cast iron takes a long time to heat up but it also cools down slowly. In fact, it stays hot for way longer after you turn it off, out of all the different radiator materials. This property is important for heating poorly insulated older buildings that are often drafty, but far less important for modern homes with double glazing and loft insulation.

Compared to the first two, aluminium is a superconductor. Aluminium radiators respond quickly to a change in setting and offer optimal control over the comfort level in your home. But a quicker heat up time also means cooling happens more rapidly.


Steel is inexpensive. So if you need multiple radiators and you’re on a tight budget, then steel is perfect for you.

Meanwhile, cast iron radiators cost more to install due to their weight. They are extremely heavy and that makes the installation more difficult.

Aluminium radiators have the highest possible BTU output but also the highest price. That being said, installation fees may be lower because of the lightweight quality of the aluminium. So is it cost effective? If you’re trying to outfit an entire house and are working on keeping a budget, then aluminium might cost you a bomb. If you can’t afford to splurge, then it might not be the best option.


Steel is a high-quality metal that’s extremely durable and doesn’t rust over time. But that is if your radiator is made of high-grade steel. There are150 different grades of steel, and poor quality ones may rust or wear over the years. Stainless steel provides the same heating performance as mild steel, although it offers better quality and requires little maintenance since it does not rust. However, these advantages come with a price.

Cast iron radiators are extremely durable and could probably survive a meteor impact, but the same can’t be said about aluminium radiators. Aluminium is non-corrosive so its finish may be retained for many years. Nevertheless, you’ll need to treat aluminium with a gentle touch to avoid dints.


Steel is loved by many contemporary designers because it’s cheap and versatile in terms of design. It can be manufactured into all sorts of shapes, styles and colours. Not to mention steel comes in attractive finish that is easy to maintain by way of wiping every few times a year.

Cast iron is great to have if you want a gorgeous statement piece with a Victorian vibe.

Aluminium radiators may also be created in any kind of style, finish and colour.

Ultimately, the right radiator for your home or office depends on what matters most to you. If you’re looking for a good balance of price, efficiency and durability, then steel radiators are worth looking at.

If you need more information, check out our central heating page.

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