Towel Warmer Buyer’s Guide

By thewriteDuffy •  Updated: 06/07/24 •  11 min read

I was skeptical when Dan insisted on getting a towel warmer for our ensuite bathroom. It seemed like a waste. But I have to admit that right when you’re opening the door of the steamy shower and you get a chill from the cold bathroom air, wrapping yourself in a towel that’s not just dry, but toasty warm is not half bad. It’s like a cozy hug, right when you need it most. That’s the magic of a towel warmer – it’s not just a bathroom gadget; it’s a slice of everyday luxury.

In this guide, we’ll delve into everything you need to know about these little gadgets that can level-up any bathroom, from how they work to their benefits and safe usage.

Why a Towel Warmer?

Towel warmers are great for feeling cozy, but there are actually a ton of reasons people buy them:

Warm Towels: The main gig of a towel warmer is to give you that fresh-out-of-the-dryer towel hug. It’s a simple pleasure that makes a big difference.

Bacteria Fighter: These warmers are also secret bacteria busters. The heat helps keep your towels cleaner and fresher.

Space Saver: Got a small bathroom? A towel warmer can save space in a bathroom where towel bar space is limited. It can also be a great two-in-one heating solution – warming your towels and the room. Its sleek design is perfect for tight spaces, turning a functional item into a stylish feature without cramping your style.

Style Points: They’re not just practical; they look great too! With various styles, they can add a touch of elegance to your bathroom.

Boost to Resale Value: Installing a towel warmer can be a smart move for your home’s resale value. It’s one of those little luxuries that catch a buyer’s eye. Just like granite countertops or a fancy showerhead, a towel warmer adds that ‘extra something’ to your bathroom. It’s a sign that you care about comfort and quality, making your home stand out in the market.

Secondary Uses: Towel warmers can be used for more than just towels. They can dry delicate laundry, swimwear, or even provide a gentle warming for clothes on chilly days.

There are two main types of towel warmers that offer significantly different installation requirements. The first consideration when purchasing a towel warmer is to determine which type you want.

Types of Towel Warmers:

Towel warmers are typically heated by a flow of water, called hydronic, or by electricity. Electric towel warmers are available in hardwire and plug in models and may be filled with oil or electric filaments.

Hydronic Towel Warmers 

Hydronic towel warmers are more complicated to install because they require plumbing and electricity. Many hydronic towel warmers also attach to the home’s heating system and use a pump to recirculate hot water. This type may only work when the home’s heating system is turned on, so additional plumbing and power may need to be installed for the unit to operate independently.

Hydronic towel warmers circulate water that’s the same temperature as the water in the home’s heating system, giving the homeowner control. The recommend temperature is between 120 and 150 degrees Fahrenheit.

Electric Towel Warmers 

Electric towel warmers can come in two types: Filament or Fluid

Filament towel warmers use nichrome wire, which generates heat by passing an electric current through it. Fluid towel warmers, on the other hand, use a heating fluid, which is heated and then dispersed through the unit.

Filament towel warmers typically are more energy-efficient than fluid towel warmers, but fluid towel warmers often produce a more consistent heat.

Electric towel warmers can be wall mounted and can either be hardwired or plug-in to a standard outlet. They can take longer to heat up than hydronic warmers, but do not require plumbing to be installed.

Most electric towel warmers come with built-in temperature control and are designed to operate within a safe temperature range. Some manufacturers recommend leaving the warmer on 24 hours a day to avoid having to wait for the warmer to heat.

Where to Place a Towel Warmer

Towel warmers come in many shapes, sizes and colors. After determining which type you want, decide where you will install it. This will help you determine what size to get. Some towel warmers are wall mounted, others are freestanding. This will also have an impact on the degree of installation difficulty.

Choosing a Style of Towel Warmer

Towel warmers come in many different shapes and styles, ranging from closely-spaced bars to spiral-shaped baskets to shelves. Style will also have an impact on the size and appearance.

Are Towel Warmers Safe?

Let’s talk safety, because it’s super important, right? When it comes to towel warmers, the big question is: are they safe? Absolutely, but like any appliance, you’ve got to use them smartly.

First off, installation is key. Make sure your towel warmer is set up right. If DIY isn’t your thing, no worries – get an electrician to do it. They’ll handle the wiring and make sure it’s mounted securely, so no wobbles or surprises.

Now, let’s chat about regular check-ups. Keep an eye on the power cord and the unit itself. If you spot anything funky like wear or damage, it’s time to hit pause and get it sorted.

What about when you touch it? The surface should be warm but not ‘ouch-that’s-hot’ warm. You should be able to touch it for a couple of seconds without discomfort. If it’s hotter than that, something’s not right. Time to call in the experts.

Be mindful of what you put on the towel warmer. Plastics, rubber, synthetic fabrics, or anything wax-based? Big no-no. They don’t play well with heat and can cause damage or, worse, a fire hazard.

Got a hydronic towel warmer? Keep an eye on the water temperature. Too hot and it could be a scalding hazard. Stick to the manufacturer’s guidelines to keep things safe.

And if you’ve got little ones running around, make sure the towel warmer is out of their reach or securely mounted. Always keep an eye on kids in the bathroom – safety first!

In a nutshell, towel warmers are like any other appliance – treat them with respect, use them as intended, and they’re as safe as houses. Regular checks, proper use, and a bit of common sense go a long way in keeping you and your family safe and warm.

Are Towel Warmers Expensive to Run?

You might be wondering if a towel warmer will hike up your electricity bill. Unfortunatley, it’s not as straightforward as a yes or no, but let’s break it down.

First things first, the type of towel warmer you choose matters. You’ve got electric ones (both filament-heated and fluid-filled) and then there are the hydronic ones, which hook up to your home’s heating system. Electric ones are pretty common and they come with different levels of energy efficiency.

Now, size and power do count here. Bigger towel warmers with more oomph (read: higher wattage) will naturally use more electricity. So, if you’re eyeing a larger model, just remember it might cost a bit more to run.

Your usage pattern is the real game-changer. If you’re running it 24/7, that’s going to cost more than just firing it up for a few hours each day. It’s all about how often and how long you use it.

Here’s a cool feature – some towel warmers come with timers or thermostats. These nifty gadgets let you control when your towel warmer is on, helping you save on those energy bills. It’s like having a smart assistant for your towel warmer!

And don’t forget, electricity rates vary depending on where you live. To get a rough idea of the cost, you can do a quick calculation: multiply the towel warmer’s wattage by how many hours you use it and then by your local electricity rate. For example, a 100-watt towel warmer used for 2 hours a day at a rate of $0.12 per kWh will cost you around $7.20 a month. Not too shabby, right?

In a nutshell, towel warmers can be pretty energy-efficient, especially if you use them wisely. With a bit of smart usage and taking advantage of features like timers, you can enjoy the luxury of warm towels without worrying too much about your electricity bill.

Is a Towel Warmer Worth It For You? The Final Verdict

So, we’ve explored the ins and outs of towel warmers, and now the big question: Are they worth the investment? Like most things in life, it depends on what you value and need. Let’s lay it out in a simple pros and cons table to help you decide:

Luxury and Comfort: Wrapping yourself in a warm towel is an everyday treat.Cost: They can be a bit of a splurge, especially the high-end models.
Improved Hygiene: Warmth that helps keep towels fresher and germ-free.Energy Consumption: Though generally efficient, they do add to your electricity bill.
Quick Drying: No more damp towels hanging around.Space: Might be tricky to fit in bathrooms with limited wall space.
Year-Round Use: Perfect for chilly mornings and cold seasons.Installation: Some models might need professional installation.
Aesthetic Appeal: They look great and add a touch of elegance.Minimal Use: If you’re not a frequent towel user, it might not be a necessity.

In conclusion, towel warmers are more than just a bathroom accessory; they’re a blend of luxury, comfort, and practicality. They bring a spa-like experience to your daily routine, contribute to better hygiene, and even add a dash of style to your bathroom. While they do come with considerations like cost and energy use, the benefits they offer can make them a worthwhile addition for many.

Ultimately, whether a towel warmer is a good fit for you boils down to your personal preferences, lifestyle, and how much you value the comfort and convenience they offer. If the idea of stepping into a warm towel every morning sounds like a dream, then a towel warmer might just be the perfect addition to your bathroom sanctuary.

Frequently Asked Questions

Why do I need a towel warmer?

Towel warmers are a comfort item that add a little element of luxury. Towel warmers keep towels fresh and warm and can help control humidity in the bathroom.
If you’re trying to dial up the luxury on your home before a sale, they are perfect.

Should I buy an electric or a hydronic towel warmer?

When selecting between electric towel warmers and hydronic towel warmers, your choice may be determined by the heating and plumbing system in your home.

Electric towel warmers are self-contained and easy to install and can either be hardwired or plugged into a standard outlet. Hydronic towel warmers attach to the home’s heating system, so they can be more complicated to install. If your home does not have the capability to connect a towel warmer to the heating system, you will want to stick with an electric one.

Can a towel warmer burn me or start a fire?

When properly installed and wired, towel warmers are very safe. Most have a built-in temperature range of between 120 and 150 degrees Fahrenheit so they would be warm to the touch but not hot enough to be a safety hazard.

Does my towel warmer work instantly?

No, it takes time for a towel warmer to heat up and warm you towel. Some manufacturers recommend that you leave your towel warmer on 24 hours a day so it is always warm when you need it. Others will heat up fast enough that you only need to plan ahead and turn it on before you get into the bath or shower.

What’s in my towel warmer that keeps it hot?

This depends on your individual towel warmer, but most use a water, electricity or oil to keep the bars warm.


At home, April is a mom, wife, and DIY darling. Among other home projects, she helped her husband Dan renovate their 1986 bungalow and is currently designing and decorating the 2023 custom home they are building themselves. Professionally, April is a writer, author, and online marketer with 15 years of experience writing for newspapers and magazines, building online authority websites, and publishing books.