When we looked into heating options for our kitchen diner renovation, we quickly realised we had limited wall space for a radiators. The entire kitchen area of the kitchen diner is wall cupboards - so how do you heat that space??
We thought our only two options were radiators or underfloor heating. With zero walls to hang a heater on in this area we looked into the latter first.
Why underfloor heating didn’t work for us
The main things we considered when researching underfloor heating was cost. Electric underfloor heating is fairly cheap and easy to install (a confident DIYer could do it), however the size of our kitchen / diner would mean that the cost of running it would be really high. We erased that idea, and went onto the next…
The other option is plumbed-in underfloor heating and the costs for this are the other way around; it’s fairly cheap to run as it’s plumbed into your central heating system (essentially like adding another radiator to the room) but it is quite expensive to install and it would add an additional layer of complexity to the renovation.
Not for us either… next!
How to heat a kitchen with no wall space? Kick space heaters!
Our kitchen diner being an open plan space was fine in terms of heating the diner area (we installed a small column radiator to the dining area) but we couldn’t do the same in our kitchen area - the walls were 100% covered in cupboards and appliances.
It was only when we spoke with our builder that the option of a kick space heater became a real option. We weren't even aware of the existence of these little heaters but they answered all our heating prayers and didn’t mean we have to change the design of our cupboards just to hang a radiator.
What are kick space heaters?
Kick space heaters are used for areas like ours where space is at a bit of a premium. They utilise the little space under your kitchen cupboards where your kickbacks are installed, which otherwise is just wasted space.
Kick space heaters are also known as plinth heaters and come in a couple of formats, electric and hydronic. After doing plenty of research (and not really finding much information about them) we discovered that the difference is a little like the difference between underfloor heating systems.
Electric Kick Space Heaters/Plinth Radiators
These use heated elements and a fan to heat your space and are usually as straightforward as plugging them in and screwing them in place.
Hydronic Kickspace Heaters/Plinth Radiators
As the "hydro" in the name suggests these have little radiators inside them and are plumbed into the central heating system. A central heating engineer would need to help you add this into your system, and automatically switch on when the heating in the rest of your home turns on. Or, you can switch it off completely with the flick of a switch (just use your toe :) )
So in the end we decided that we would use a combination of a hydronic kick space heater which would provide heat for the kitchen area and fairly high wattage radiator for the dining area. Being quite focused on keeping the long term running costs down, we decided that this would be the best solution whilst maintaining our desired aesthetic.
We opted for the Smiths Hydronic Plinth Heater Space Saver 3 which has since been updated to a newer model.
*Pro-tip* - always do your maths when calculating how much heating you need, there's a multitude of different heating calculators out there - we ended up doing a bunch of them and realising that they always came up with slightly different wattage. In the end we took an average of all of them.
Benefits of hydronic kick space heaters
They save space and can be used when you have no wall space
They have the central heated AND electric as an option for flexible use
They maintain the aesthetic appeal of your space as they are fairly hidden
When used on the hydro setting they are cheaper to run because it's just using the existing heating system
The fan can be used on hot days to create some air circulation
Main considerations for hydronic kick space heaters
They have a fan with two settings and the fan does have a noise, the strong setting is a little bit noisier (although you do get used to it and kitchens generally are noisy anyway)
If you are also using the electric for a boost this is fairly costly to run
For some, even the addition of the look of the panel may not be palatable for their aesthetic but when space is a premium, sometimes sacrifices need to be made
We’re very pleased with our Smith’s plinth heater. Just like a normal radiator, it does it’s job (heats the space) with no fuss and good control. It puts out a good level of heat for a kitchen area and we like how it can be turned off if you’re cooking and the kitchen is getting naturally hot with the oven and pans etc. Overall we are so glad plinth heaters like this exist as it gave us much more storage space in the kitchen - we would have had to sacrifice a whole area of cupboards to hang a heater if this didn’t exist.
Hope this helps you and best of luck with your renovation!
Fifi (& Neil) xoxo