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Thread: Plumbed Towel Warmer

  1. #1
    DIY Junior Member LHO's Avatar
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    Default Plumbed Towel Warmer

    I'd like to install a towel warmer. Not the electric type, but plumbed into the hot water line connected to the shower valve. Electric heaters and ones designed for hot water heating systems are available, but I can't seem to find one that uses the shower hot supply water to lightly warm towels. I am wondering about making my own out of polished and lacquered copper pipe snaked on the wall. Is this an idea that will work?

  2. #2
    Moderator & Master Plumber hj's Avatar
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    You can use one for a hot water heating system. Just pipe your hot water line through it on the way to the shower valve. It is debateable how effective it will be unless you take very long showers, and ANYTHING like that will reduce the hot water temperature.
    Licensed residential and commercial plumber

  3. #3
    DIYer, not in the trades LLigetfa's Avatar
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    If at all possible, I would put in a return line and use a recirc pump. You will have the added benefit of instant warm at the sink when the pump is turned on.

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    Forum Admin, Expert Plumber Terry's Avatar
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    Using a recirc line to the water heater would work all right.
    That could get a little toasty.

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    Retired Defense Industry Engineer jadnashua's Avatar
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    Your objection to an electrically heated one is? Mine is on an electronic wall timer, so it only runs when I'm likely to be needing it, but it is easily turned on at any other time I might want it. They do take some time to warm up as the heating element isn't all that huge (mine is I think 180W). They are on a thermostat, so they do limit how hot they can get. With typical supply hot water temps of 120-degrees, I don't think you'd warm you towels much. My electrical one gets to probably 150-degrees or so (I've never measured it). A hydronic one would get to whatever temp you're circulating the boiler water, which could be hotter. There's a point where it becomes unsafe.

    Running potable water through it without a circulation system, as already mentioned, probably wouldn't warm it much, and with a recirculation system, you'd be injecting heat into the room constantly while the pump was enabled, which may not be the best thing for the a/c season.
    Jim DeBruycker
    Important note - I'm not a pro
    Retired Defense Industry Engineer; Schluter 2.5-day Workshop Completed 2013, 2014

  6. #6
    Moderator & Master Plumber hj's Avatar
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    quote; with a recirculation system, you'd be injecting heat into the room constantly while the pump was enabled, which may not be the best thing for the a/c season

    OR when there were no towels on the rack. Or at least when no one was needing to use them.
    Licensed residential and commercial plumber

  7. #7
    Retired Defense Industry Engineer jadnashua's Avatar
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    Lacquered copper will likely not survive long while looking good with a damp towel sitting on it.
    Jim DeBruycker
    Important note - I'm not a pro
    Retired Defense Industry Engineer; Schluter 2.5-day Workshop Completed 2013, 2014

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    DIY Senior Member dlarrivee's Avatar
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    I'm glad I'm not the only one thinking this is a bad idea.

  9. #9
    DIY Junior Member LHO's Avatar
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    Thanks for all the responses.

    I tend to be cautious about the electric models -- electric heat is simply a controlled short. Also it is a plug in appliance with a life span, I'll eventually end up with some funny holes in the wall where it was mounted.

    A hot water system on the other hand is completely passive. Now, if it isn't effective I'll want to reconsider the electric models.

    Actually my interest in the "towel warmer" is more practical than comfort. We live where it can be rather damp and towels left on the rack go "bad" rather quickly if hung up damp. We are presently throwing them in the dryer after each use. This is a bother and an expense I'd like to eliminate. Having the towels heated after the shower is the goal.

    I have read some of the consumer reviews on amazon, etc for the electric models. There are some complaints of singed towels and electric models going over to the dark side.

    So, I'd like to hear about any recommended models.

    It is true that lacquer can deteriorate with heat and moisture. The present towel rack from 1979 still has its finish intact, I presume it is a lacquer-based finish.

    I had thought about having it chrome plated.

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    DIY Senior Member dlarrivee's Avatar
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    I think that any coating you add will just reduce the effectiveness...

    Embrace the green copper!

  11. #11
    DIY Junior Member LHO's Avatar
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    I absolutely love green copper, but I doubt the wife will like its effect on the white towels.

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    Retired Defense Industry Engineer jadnashua's Avatar
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    Mine is from these people: never singed a towel for me...http://mrsteam.com/products/towelwarmers_models.html They're not cheap, but they are built very well with a good warranty. It is direct wired to a timer switch.
    Jim DeBruycker
    Important note - I'm not a pro
    Retired Defense Industry Engineer; Schluter 2.5-day Workshop Completed 2013, 2014

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    DIY Member jadziedzic's Avatar
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    I second Jim's recommendation of Mr. Steam - I purchased a model 236 at the beginning of the year and it works great. I have it wired through a Leviton digital timer (proper type and size for a resistive load). Note that many of the cheaper models you can find on Amazon, etc. have significantly-reduced heat outputs compared to these, which means either leave it on forever to ensure the towels are warm when you need them, or turn it on a couple of hours beforehand.

  14. #14
    DIY Senior Member bluebinky's Avatar
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    A wild idea here...

    If your objective were merely to help the towels dry out after use, what about something like an electric wall heater (with the heating elements disconnected/removed) behind the towel. I don't know for sure if it would work, but just blowing ambient air through the towel might help.

  15. #15
    Moderator & Master Plumber hj's Avatar
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    For the length of time a "towel WARMER" would take to completely dry your towel, your dryer could do it LESS expensively in a few minutes. No matter how you do it there will be an expense. Even using the hot water line will cost you
    Licensed residential and commercial plumber

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