If you are looking for a towel warmer you came to the right place! I have spent over 40 hours researching towel warmers and summarized my findings in this buyers guide. My top pick is the Warmrails Hyde Park Towel Warmer. This towel warmer is an affordable luxury that will allow you to enjoy a spa-like experience every time you step out of the bath or shower. Looking for the best way to dry your towel between showers? It does an excellent job drying towels and eliminating that musty smell between uses. It also makes a great gift for that hard to buy for person who has everything…except a towel warmer.
I will cover the following topics in this guide:
- Towel Warmer Side by Side Comparison
- What are towel warmers?
- Who should purchase?
- Electric towel warmers
- Energy usage of electric towel warmers
- Hydronic towel warmers
- Getting the most out of your towel warmer
- Using a timer with a towel warmer
- Top pick
- Second pick
- Alternative option
- Honorable mentions
- Final Thoughts
Towel Warmer Side by Side Comparison
|Style||Rail||Rail||Pail / Bucket||Rail||Rail|
|Standing / Mounted?||Floor Standing||Freestanding or Wall Mounted||Floor (Pail Style)||Wall Mounted||Wall Mounted|
|Price||Check Price on Amazon||Check Price on Amazon||Check Price on Amazon||Check Price on Amazon||Check Price on Amazon|
|Rails / Bars||8||6||N/A||8||10|
|Finish||Chrome or Nickel||Chrome||White Plastic||Chrome or Nickel||Brushed|
|Dimensions (HxW)||39” x 24”||36” x 22”||22” x 13”||39.5” x 24”||32” x 24”|
|Power Type||Plug-in||Plug-in||Plug-in||Plug-in or Hardwire||Hardwired|
|Power Cord Length||7 Feet||6 Feet||6 Feet||7 Feet||NA - Hardwired|
What are Towel Warmers?
There are two types of towel warmers – electric and hydronic. I will go into more detail in subsequent sections, but a towel warmer is essentially a towel rack where the bars (often called rails) heats up through electricity (electric towel warmer) or hot water (hydronic towel warmer) depending on the type. They are available in different styles including a wall mounted rack, a freestanding towel rack that stands upright on the floor, a pail (or bucket style), and cabinet models.
If you live in or have traveled to Europe you may be familiar with wall mounted racks. They are common in many European countries and are becoming increasingly popular in the United States. They are also found in most spas, and for a very affordable price you can replicate that 5 star experience in your own bathroom.
The primary purpose of a towel warmer is to have a toasty warm towel ready for you when you step out of the shower or bath.
There are additional uses for towel warmers including the following:
Many users prefer to use their towel warmer exclusively as a towel dryer. If you reuse the same towel over multiple showers, this may be a great option for you. Simply hang your damp towel over the rack after your shower. It will quickly dry your towel, eliminating the musty odor commonly associated with wet towels left hanging in your bathroom all day. By not washing and drying so many towels, you will save on your utility bill while enjoying a dry, fresh, and warm towel after each bath or shower.
Warm Other Items
A towel warmer is not limited to warming towels. You can also warm other items including:
- Your bathrobe for extra warmth after drying off. Bathrobes are typically thicker than towels and will retain more heat. You will spend more time wearing a warm bathrobe than drying off with your towel. Why not enjoy the warmth a little longer?
- Pajamas and blankets before wrapping up on the couch or going bed.
- Scarf and other clothing items before heading out on a cold winter morning.
- Just about anything else that you would like to warm up.
Dry Other Items
Using towel warmer is the best way to dry delicate garments. This includes items made of silk, wool, Spandex, 100% cotton clothing, and other items that cannot be dried in a traditional clothes dryer. Check the garment’s label for drying instructions. A towel warmer may be your best option to dry these items.
They are great to keep in your pool house or on your patio. They do a good job drying wet swimsuits and towels after swimming. Many people use these to enjoy a warm towel after stepping out of the hot tub as well.
According to Amba Products, they work well in the mudroom or utility room drying out wet boots, socks, gloves, etc. They are especially useful during rainy summers and snowy winters.
Alternative Heat Source
Many towel warmers are designed to operate 24 hours per day. They can be used as a cost effective secondary heat source to warm up bathrooms or other areas in your home including a garage. They work well as a bathroom heater and will help knock the chill out of the air on a cold winter morning.
Towel warmers can serve as an additional towel hanging rack. Many bathrooms lack rack space and in some cases do not have a towel bar. If you do not have a towel rack in your bathroom or just need an additional one this is a good option.
They can help reduce mildew and humidity by minimizing moisture in areas where there is no window or little ventilation. According to PlumbingSupply.com, they work great for this application in kitchens, bedrooms, mudrooms, basements, and of course your bathroom.
Other buyers purchase towel warmers for decorative purposes. If you are building a new home or remodeling your bathroom, mounting a towel warmer on the wall is an affordable way to give your bathroom an upscale look.
Who Should Purchase?
A towel warmer is for anyone who wants a warm or dry towel. It is an inexpensive luxury that you will be able to enjoy every day. There’s nothing better than a toasty towel first thing in the morning or right before bed.
Ever had a hot towel right out of the dryer on a cold winter day? Yeah, you know what I’m talking about! What if you could have the same feeling every time you step out of the bath or shower? These warmers are more affordable than you may realize.
Factors to consider when purchasing:
- How much you are willing to spend? My top pick is a great buy for the $100 price range. According to Quality Bath, higher end designer towel warmers can go into the thousands of dollars.
- Does the installation need to be user friendly? The most user friendly towel warmer to purchase is a freestanding, soft wired towel warmer. These models allow you to stand the warmer upright on the floor and plug it into a standard electrical outlet (my top pick is user friendly). Once you get into wall mounted, hardwired, and hydronic racks, the installation becomes increasingly complicated.
- Space requirements. If you want a wall mounted rack, do you have enough wall space to hang it on? If not, a freestanding rack may be the better option.
- Location of wiring if you plan to hardwire your electric towel warmer. You may need the assistance of an electrician to install a hardwired unit. Remember, soft wired units with a power cord plug simply into a standard outlet.
- For hydronic warmers, know your plumbing layout. Hydronic warmers connect to your existing plumbing infrastructure. You may need to hire a plumber to install a hydronic warmer.
Towel warmers make a great gift that won’t break the budget. Looking for something for the person who has everything? This is your ticket. They may not even know that such a thing exists.
Towel warmers are a suitable gift idea for any occasion including:
- Valentine’s Day
- Mothers Day
- Wedding gift
- Housewarming gift
- Size: At 39” tall it is large enough to hold 4 towels.
- Dries Towels: This model does an excellent job drying towels between uses.
- Runtime: It is designed to run 24 hours per day. This means you can always have warm towels. At the same time, it can double as a bathroom heater, warming up the space and reduce humidity, mold, and mildew in your bathroom.
- Mobile: It can be moved from one bathroom to the next or to other areas of the house. It can also be used in the laundry room to dry delicate items that cannot go in the dryer as well as bathing suits after swimming or wet clothing from the rain or snow.
- Heating Area: With 8 rails, it has more heating area than many of its competitors.
- Temperature: It would be nice if it was a bit warmer, but keep in mind it only uses 80 watts of energy which is less than a standard light bulb.
- Fold / Layer Towels: Although the rack has 8 rails, folding or layering the towels works best for a toasty towel.
- Freestanding Towel Rack Only: This model cannot be mounted on the wall. However, the versatility could be considered a plus if you would like to move it from room to room or if your bathroom needs an additional towel rack. If you would like a similar wall mounted option, consider the Warmrails “Kensington” Towel Warmer.
- No timer: Although a timer does not come standard, you can purchase one online for about $10. The best electric timer is the Belkin F7C009 Conserve Socket Energy Saving Outlet.
- Freestanding or mounted options: It includes feet and mounting brackets right out of the box. This way you can decide if you want to use it as a freestanding or wall mounted towel warmer.
- Presentation: Sports a modern look with a sleek satin nickel finish on an aluminum frame.
- Limited Energy Consumption: Energy efficient, consuming approximately 100 watts of electricity.
- Runtime: It is designed to run 24 hours per day which allows it to double as a space heater.
- Time to Warm: It is suggested that you leave your towel on the warmer overnight for best results.
- Endurance: You have to use the towel immediately after taking it off the rack or it will cool down.
- No Timer or Auto Shut Off: There is only an on/off switch. Also, the switch can be hard to engage. You should consider purchasing an outlet timer with this model.
- Inconsistent Heat: The towel will be the warmest where it touches the bar.
- Warm-up time: It is warm to the touch after about 5 minutes, but can take up to 30 minutes to fully warm or dry a towel.
- Size: Large enough to fit a bathrobe, pajamas, jacket, sweater, pants, etc.
- Mobile: Can easily move from room to room or from indoors to outdoors near a hot tub, pool, etc.
- Warmth: Out of the dryer feeling since it is fully enclosed.
- Auto Off: It automatically shuts off after 20 minutes to prevent overheating. It will stay off until the hot surface light goes off.
- Presentation: It has a great modern look.
- Initial Odor: During the first few runs there is a “new” plastic smell as the unit heats up. This will burn off after several cycles.
- Settings: There are no settings, only on/off. There is no temperature control or timer included.
- Bottom of Pail Does Not Heat Well: The bottom portion of the warmer does not heat as well as the sides. A workaround for this is to put a small porcelain plate that will fit in the base of the pail which will push the heat up, warming the towel throughout.
- No Timer: It does not have a built in timer. However, it has a built in auto-off feature for safety.
- Temperature: Some users may consider the towel to be too hot, possibly even overheated if left in the warmer too long.
- Functionality: Cannot cross function as a towel rack. One of the primary reasons people purchase a rack style towel warmer is because they need an extra towel rack in their bathroom.
- Runtime: Unlike rack warmers, this unit cannot stay on 24 hours per day. You will have to manually start it each cycle. If you want to run it two cycles for an extra warm towel, you will have to remember to manually push the start button a second time before the warmth of the first run cools off.
- For Warming Only: This unit is used to warm a towel only. Many people purchase a rack style warmer to dry their towel to reuse for multiple showers.
Electric Towel Warmers
Electric warmers are the best do-it-yourself option. Many models offer the soft wired option of simply plugging the unit’s power cord into a standard electrical outlet. Others have the ability to hardwire into your home which may require the assistance of an electrician. Hardwired warmers tend to look better because there is no power cord, but the soft wired models offer a much more user friendly installation.
There are a variety of mounting options for the rack style models. They are available as a freestanding unit, floor mounted, and wall mounted options. Some have the ability to either be used as a freestanding or wall mounted warmer.
They are more cost effective than hydronic towel warmers. Electric models start at around $100 while hydronic models can soar into the thousands of dollars. The lesser expensive models look good and do a comparable job to more expensive warmers.
Energy Usage of Electric Towel Warmers
They are cost efficient to operate. My top pick uses about the same amount of energy as a standard light bulb.
Keeping in mind that I am a nerd, I wanted to take the opportunity to calculate the cost to operate an electric towel warmer. According to npr.org, the average cost of electricity in the United States is 12 cents per kilowatt hour (kWh). My top pick, the “Hyde Park” by Warmrails, consumes 80 watts of electricity. Assuming you run the towel warmer for one hour, it would cost you less than 1 cent per day to operate, well worth that toasty bath towel. Here’s the math:
80 watts * 1 hour = 80 —> 80 / 1000 = 0.08 kWh
0.08 kWh * $0.12 (avg cost per kWh) = $0.01 (rounded up from 0.0096)
Using the same formula, it only costs about $0.23 to run the towel warmer 24 hours per day.
After you decide how many hours you will run the unit per day and calculate the daily cost, multiply the daily cost by 30.42 (365 days per year / 12 months) to get the average monthly cost. Running it 1 hour per day would cost 29 cents per month to operate and running it 24 hours per day non-stop would cost about $7 per month. Again, this is about the same cost as burning a light bulb.
If nothing else, it is worth the cost to warm up a cold bathroom and keep the humidity levels down which will reduce mold and mildew. If you just need to dry your towel out to reuse for your next shower, this option is much cheaper than running it through the dryer.
Hydronic Towel Warmers
Hydronic towel warmers are more expensive than their electric counterparts and will likely require a plumber to install. A hydronic warmer is essentially a radiator with a set of pipes that has hot water pushed through them. They connect to the existing closed loop hot water heating system in your home.
With a hydronic towel warmer, the temperature can be adjusted through a thermostat that controls the flow of hot water through the unit.
One of the primary advantages of a hydronic towel warmer over an electric model is there is a minimal wait time for the unit to heat up. Since it is connected to your existing hot water system, the heat is almost instantaneous whereas with an electric model it takes about 15 minutes for the unit to warm up.
Another advantage of a hydronic towel warmer is that they can be installed closer to your tub or shower. There are no electrical components in hydronic warmer which eliminates the risk of electric shock. In fact, hydronic warmers are often found inside spas and saunas. An electric towel warmer on the other hand is not recommended to be installed within about 6 feet of your tub, shower, or other areas where water is present.
Getting the Most of Your Towel Warmer
The rack style electric towel warmers sometimes do not heat the towel all the way through. They are notorious for only heating the portion of the towel that touches the hot bar. The best workaround for this is folding the towel in multiple layers before placing on the rack. Fold once in half long ways, and then fold over again. The thicker the layer, the more warmth the towel is able to absorb and retain. Another workaround is to weave the towel through the rack’s bars.
In general, the thicker and heavier the towel, the more heat it will retain. Thin, lightweight towels will generally cool down faster.
When choosing a towel warmer, it is best to look for one that has the most rails. The more rails it has and the closer together they are, the more heat will reach your towel. The heat will also be more evenly distributed.
If you have a smaller bathroom or lack space for another large floor item, consider mounting the warmer on the wall. My second pick, the Home Fashion 6-Bar towel warmer has the option of standing on the floor or mounting on the wall.
Finally, do not place an electric towel warmer near water. It is recommended that you keep an electric towel warmer at least 6 feet away from water. A hydronic towel warmer should be ok since there is no electricity powering the unit.
Using a Timer with a Towel Warmer
Most electric towel warmers do not come standard with a timer. However, using a timer with a towel warmer has several benefits including energy conservation and the convenience of not having to remember to cut it off or unplug it every day. This is a “set it and forget it” option that will ensure you have a warm towel every morning when you step out of the shower.
If you need a timer I recommend the Belkin F7C009 Conserve Socket Energy Saving Outlet. It only costs around $10 and it is well worth the price. It features a 30 minute, 3 hour, and 6 hour automatic cutoff. In addition to your towel warmer, it works well with curling irons, coffee makers, and any other item you may be concerned with accidentally leaving on all day. Having one will certainly give you peace of mind.
Top Pick: Warmrails WHC Hyde Park 39-Inch Family Size Floor Standing Towel Warmer
My top pick is the Warmrails “Hyde Park” Towel Warmer. It stands 39” tall x 24” wide and is large enough to hold 4 towels. It has 8 rails, which is two bars more than most of its competitors. A towel warmer this size will allow the whole family to enjoy a warm towel. Additionally, having 8 rails distributes the warmth more evenly since there is more heated area touching the towel.
It is built to run 24 hours per day which allows this unit to double as a bathroom heater as well. Consuming 80 watts of electricity, it uses less energy than a standard light bulb and only costs about a penny to warm your towel and less than a quarter to run it all day.
The warmer plugs in the wall with a standard 7 ft power cord and includes an on/off switch if you choose to turn it off while keeping it plugged in.
This is a freestanding towel warmer. If you need a wall mounted option, check out the Warmrails Kensington Towel Warmer. The two are made by the same manufacturer and are very similar. Additional information for this warmer is in the “Honorable Mentions” section below.
Could Be Better
Second Pick: LCM Home Fashion 6-Bar Freestanding Towel Warmer, Drying Rack
The runner up is the LCM Home Fashion 6-Bar Freestanding Towel Warmer. I found that this model works best if you are looking for a towel dryer rather than a towel warmer. If all you need is something to dry towels, this would be the better option with its lower price point.
Standing 36” tall x 22” wide, it is large enough to hold two standard sized towels. It features a 6 bar design with enough surface area to evenly distribute heat. It heats up over 120 degrees in about 30 minutes.
It comes with a 6 foot cord which will allow you to station it almost anywhere in your bathroom, even if the outlet is not close by. It plugs into a standard 110-120v outlet.
Could Be Better
Alternative Option: Brookstone Towel Warmer
The Brookstone Towel Warmer is my alternative option. Throughout this guide, I have focused on rack style towel warmers, but this one is a bit different. The Brookstone towel warmer is a bucket (or pail) style warmer.
This one will actually give you a more of the “out of the dryer” feel than its rack style counterpart. It features a completely enclosed drum, heating the entire towel similar to a clothes dryer.
It takes about 10 minutes to warm the towel, and for extra warmth you can run it through another cycle for about 8 minutes.
It has a large drum that is big enough to fit two beach towels or about four regular sized bath towels. It also works great heating your bathrobe and other items of clothing.
Could Be Better
“How to use” YouTube video by Brookstone Inc.:
Warmrails Kensington Wall Mounted Towel Warmer
This towel warmer is similar to my top pick, but is a wall mounting unit only; it cannot be used as a freestanding towel rack. It has the option of hardwiring or plugging into a standard outlet. It has 8 bars, stands 39.5” tall, and consumes 105 watts of electricity. This is a good alternative to my top pick if you want a wall mounted rack rather than the freestanding option.
Amba RWH-CB Radiant Hardwired Curved Towel Warmer
This Amba warmer would have made it into one of my top picks, but it is hardwired only. It does not have the option of being plugged into a standard outlet; you would need an electrician to install it. If you are comfortable with a hardwired warmer and spending over $200, this is a good option. It has 12 stainless steel bars and heats up in about 5 minutes.
Amba RWP-CP Radiant Plug-In Curved Towel Warmer
This Amba Radiant towel warmer is another good option from a great manufacturer. It features 10 stainless steel bars, stands about 24” tall, and is aesthetically pleasing. It plugs into a standard electrical outlet which is a plus if you want something simple to install from an electrical standpoint, but wall mounting is required. It consumes 150 watts of electricity and will warm your towel in about 15 minutes.
Warmrails HCC Mid Size Towel Warmer
This one can either be mounted on the wall or work as a floor standing unit. It is super energy efficient using only 75 watts of power while warming up to 130 degrees in about 15 minutes. It stands 37.5” tall and can be plugged into a standard electrical outlet. This unit works better as a towel dryer as its heating element is not as dense as others I have reviewed.
Amba SAFSB-24 Solo Towel Warmer
This is a freestanding towel warmer that stands 38” tall. Like most Amba units, it is made of stainless steel. Its 10 bar design does a great job evenly distributing the heat so your towel will not be warm in some spots and cool in others. It heats up to 150 degrees and plugs into a standard electrical outlet.
Towel warmers are a great inexpensive luxury that you can enjoy every day. Whether buying one or yourself or as a gift, they are well worth the price. You will not be disappointed.
I hope you found this guide informative and provide some assistance as you decide which towel warmer is the best fit for you. If so, please be sure to like us on Facebook and share this article with others.
If you have any questions or if there is anything you would like to add, please contact us or leave a comment below. I would love to hear from you!