original-Runtal-towel-heateropanel08-LThis morning I wrote about my new Runtal electric baseboard heater. I chose it because of its classic retro styling — I am *sure* that the “Omnipanel” design (also on the towel warmer design above) — has been around a long time. While I was over on the Runtal website, I also took a look at their towel warmers. I love these, too!  I think that lots of folks would like their vintage bathrooms to be warmer. If you are doing a remodel and have the walls open, that would be the time to add one of these Runtal towel warmers — which, in reality, throw enough heat to be called radiators. There are seven distinct styles and many colors.


Here is what Runtal says about their towel warmer radiators:

For years now, Europeans have found the key to unlocking a bathroom’s potential is the comfort provided by the Runtal line of towel radiators. Runtal towel radiators offer comfortable radiant heat in the bathroom  while at the same time providing the luxury of warm, dry towels and bathrobes.
· All towel radiators are available in electric and hydronic models.
· All towel radiators are available in various sizes and colors.

As a Bathroom Heater: Just as the sun provides for optimum radiant comfort, Runtal towel radiators radiate heat evenly, gently and quietly. Runtal European-style towel radiators are available in either self-contained electric models or hydronic models which integrate into a closed-loop forced hot water heating system. Model types and sizes allow for variations in heat outputs that enable a towel radiator to be used as a supplemental heater or as the sole source of heat for the entire room.

As a Towel Warmer: As a towel warmer each Runtal product is designed to maximize towel warming capacity. There are few sensations in the world which match the feel of a toasty towel or bathrobe after bathing. From a practical perspective, Runtal towel radiators help reduce mold and mildew and keep towels fresh between laundering.

Versatility: Not only for the bathroom, Runtal towel radiators provide an attractive and versatile means to warm other difficult to heat rooms such as kitchens, entryways, laundry rooms and any room where comfort is paramount and space is limited.

There are hard-wire and plug-in models, and you can get a programmable thermostat.

towel-warmerWe grabbed a bunch of photos from the Runtal website and online brochure — I am also pretty certain that many of the designs shown there are “retro” to the 1980s and 1990s — you can kind of tell by the bathroom designs. What do you think? How old are these bathrooms?   opanel09-L opanel02-L 9-b 8-a



runtal-towel-warmerAbove; I love how Runtal has transformed an Omnipanel towel warmer into a wall heater and coat rack, by encasing it in wood. This is very cool… very…. 1980s… but also very now!

opanel08-LOooh, and how about this cozy warming drying rack for a laundry or mudroom room (above)? Runtal offers a drying rack insert and knobs for the Omnipanel.

My sense is that these Runtal towel warmers were *popular* in the U.S. in the 1980s and 1990s… but not so much today. But, I don’t really know. Readers — do any of your read “popular” home decorating and interior design magazines? Do you see them? Is mainstream America into these?  I think, for sure, that there is a solid place in “retro America” for them. I like ’em!

Link: Runtal Towel Warmers


  1. Anna @ D16 says:

    Pam, we put a Runtal Omnipanel in one of our tiny bathrooms when we renovated it a few years ago. There was previously NOT heating source in there (brrrrr!), and all other options were either too expensive (radiant under the floor) or they ate up too much floor space (baseboard or steam heaters). We got a great deal on one on eBay, and we absolutely LOVE it. Toasty towels and a warm bathroom.

    You can read all about it here:

    And see how it fits in with the rest of our bathroom here:
    (It’s at the end of the tub!)

  2. Chris says:

    You may recall that I added one in my bathroom remodel that your profiled. It’s great to be able to reach out of the shower and grab a nice warm towel. As a bonus you can hang the wet towel back on the rack when you’re finished and it dries fast enough that it doesn’t get musty smelling and therefore you don’t have to laundry towels as much. In terms of my electricity bills, though I live in one of th highest priced electricity markets in North America, there really wasn’t any noticible impact on my bill. The warmer is on an automated timmer though so no warm towels during the middle of the day on a weekday nor the middle of the night. It wasn’t super expensive to buy either – the toilet was more for example.

  3. Chad D says:

    In Europe these aren’t “dated” at all. Forced hot water radiators are common there because they’re much more energy efficient, and towel bar radiators are really common in bathrooms of newer houses. I think if they were compatible with older radiators (without spending a couple grand to add separate zones to a radiator system) they’d be common here too. Now that radiant floor heat can be had at a not too crazy price these are liable to get less popular though.

  4. Lynn says:

    Yup. High-end eighties status symbol. Along with Aga stoves, instant hot water dispensers, and full fireplace walls of pink marble. Not that there’s anything wrong with that!

  5. Jay says:

    I think Robin might be right, I kinda think they fall into the lux market category. I wanted to place a towel warmer/heater in my master bath when it was gutted but just no room, there was no open wall space. By today’s house building standards there are closets bigger then this bath.

  6. Robin, NV says:

    I don’t know if this particular product was included but I can remember reading an article just a few years ago about “extravagent” bathroom fixtures. Towel heaters made the list – along with refrigerated medicine cabinets.

    Personally I’m drooling over a heating rack for socks. The coat rack would be nice too. It was a brisk 12 degrees here this morning. Brrr.

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