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Bathroom Towel Warmers – Best of 2019 [Updated]

We’ve considered many different types of towel warmers and have found that warmers which fully enclose the towels provide the best performance with the least amount of effort. The rack-type towel warmers either don’t produce enough heat or get so hot that they become a hazard. Our top recommended cabinet-type warmer is the Elite Hot Towel Cabi-Warmer. If you are really interested in the wall-mount warmers, then consider the Amba RWH-CB Radiant Hardwired Towel Warmer.

There are a few important things you should consider when deciding which type of towel warmer to buy.

  • Hardwired electric towel warmers have a higher ceiling in terms of heat produced than plug-in types.
  • Ambient room temperature can heavily influence how warm your towels are. Cabinet towel warmers avoid this problem.
  • Hardwired towel warmers will require an electrician to complete the installation.
  • If you’re getting a plug-in type, then consider where you will be able install it near a socket. Freestanding models give you some flexibility, but often bathrooms don’t have many sockets available.
  • Hydronic Towel Warmers use a closed loop boiler system that circulates water (or sometimes glycol) to circulate the heated liquid to radiators than warm up rooms. This type of system is used for heating radiant floors. These units are not your typical water heater used for heating tap water.

Which Brands?

The leading brands in North America are Amba, ICO, Runtal, WarmlyYours, and Warmrails.

The freestanding racks just don’t produce enough heat to both warm the towels and compensate for heat lost to the room. Cabinets are enclosures, so that problem is easily avoided.

Hardwired towel warmers have more positive reviews overall than plug-in types. But if you want the best of the best, then hydronic is the way to go.

What Makes a Good Towel Warmer?

  • Fits your installation requirements.
  • BTU Rating (Heat Output)
  • Optimal surface area contact with towels. Either flat tube designs or tightly-spaced round tubes will maximize heat transferred to the towels.

First, you need to decide if you want your towel warmer to be a permanent fixture in your bathroom. Hardwired towel warmers offer better heating and convenience with integration into smart home systems and programmable timers.

However, you will need to hire an electrician to complete the install. If you’re doing a remodel or building a new home, then the additional cost is minor.

What’s the heat output difference between hardwired and plug-in types? Well, the highest BTU rating from Amba’s plugin options is just above 500 BTUs (at 150W), while their highest hardwired option is around 1800 BTUs (at 530W).

A typical low setting on a common space heater is 800 to 100 Watts, so you can see that these towel warmers consume significantly less energy.


Choose Your Style – (Skip to a Section)


Cabinet Towel Warmers

Top Choice: Elite Hot Towel Cabi-Warmer

This towel warmer can handle wet or dry towels. Turn it on about 30 minutes before your shower for a relaxingly warm drying off experience.

$159.00 at Amazon

Comparison Table

Elite Hot Towel Cabinet (Mini)
Recommended
Elite Hot Towel Cabi-Warmer
Elite Hot Towel Cabbie Double
Elite Hot Towel Cabinet, Mini
Elite Hot Towel CABI-Warmer(HC-X)
Hot Towel Cabinet, Hot Towel Cabbie Double
Watts
130
180
180
Inside Temp
158-176 Degrees F
158-176 Degrees F
158-176 Degrees F
Towel Capacity
12 small, facial-sized towels
2 full-size bath towels (tightly packed)
4 full-size bath towels (tightly packed)
Warm-up Time
About 30 minutes
30 minutes
30 minutes
Exterior Dimensions
13.75" L x 11" W x 10" H
17.8"L x 10.5" W x 14" H
16.25" L x 16.5" W x 17.5" H
Interior Dimensions
10.5" L x 7.25" W x 5.38" H
14.7" L x 7.7" H x 9.8" H
13" L x 12.75" W x 6" H (Per cabinet)
Warranty
1-year Manufacturer
1-year Manufacturer
1-year Manufacturer
Elite Hot Towel Cabinet (Mini)
Elite Hot Towel Cabinet, Mini
Watts
130
Inside Temp
158-176 Degrees F
Towel Capacity
12 small, facial-sized towels
Warm-up Time
About 30 minutes
Exterior Dimensions
13.75" L x 11" W x 10" H
Interior Dimensions
10.5" L x 7.25" W x 5.38" H
Warranty
1-year Manufacturer
Recommended
Elite Hot Towel Cabi-Warmer
Elite Hot Towel CABI-Warmer(HC-X)
Watts
180
Inside Temp
158-176 Degrees F
Towel Capacity
2 full-size bath towels (tightly packed)
Warm-up Time
30 minutes
Exterior Dimensions
17.8"L x 10.5" W x 14" H
Interior Dimensions
14.7" L x 7.7" H x 9.8" H
Warranty
1-year Manufacturer
Elite Hot Towel Cabbie Double
Hot Towel Cabinet, Hot Towel Cabbie Double
Watts
180
Inside Temp
158-176 Degrees F
Towel Capacity
4 full-size bath towels (tightly packed)
Warm-up Time
30 minutes
Exterior Dimensions
16.25" L x 16.5" W x 17.5" H
Interior Dimensions
13" L x 12.75" W x 6" H (Per cabinet)
Warranty
1-year Manufacturer

The Elite Hot Towel Cabi-Warmer is one of the most highly-rated cabinet style towel warmers. They’re primarily made with small facial-sized towels in mind, but you can also fit full-sized towels inside, just less of them.

These models have a drip tray to catch water if you decide to warm up some wet towels.

Here are a couple of recommendations for these towel warmers.

  • Do not leave wet towels in this unit with the door closed for longer than 12 hours to prevent odor.
  • Do not leave dry towels in this unit, with the cabinet in operation, longer than six hours, to prevent odor and shrinkage.
  • Keep these towel warmers out of reach of children.

Our recommended model can hold two full-size towels, however this depends very much on how thick your towels are and their length.

About Cabinet Towel Warmers

Cabinet towel warmers have the advantage of being able to warm moist or dry towels. Like to do your own spa treatments at home? These are the same type of warmers that salons and spas use to warm their towels.

Like freestanding racks, cabinet towel warmers have no additional work required to use them. You just need somewhere to put it that is near an electrical socket.

Cabinet warmers are also more efficient than heated towel racks due to them being enclosed. It’s just how it is. Racks have to overcome the loss of heat to the room, while cabinets hold the heat inside and do a better job of completely heating the towels. It’s no surprise that many of the lower powered towel racks have complaints that the towels are barely warm or only warm in a few spots.

Efficiency and satisfaction seems to be better overall for cabinet towel warmers in the same low price range as heated towel racks. In other words, if you’re looking to buy on a budget, then go for the cabinet towel warmer instead of a similarly priced towel rack. But if cost is less of a concern, then check out the hardwired wall-mounted towel racks.


Wall-Mounted Heated Towel Racks

There are 3 types of wall-mounted heated towel racks.

  • Hardwired Electric – Requires an electrician to install.
  • Plug-in Electric – The warmer plugs into a standard socket. Make sure you have one within range of where you want to install the rack.
  • Hydronic – Connects to a boiler system, like the kind used with radiant flooring. This is not the same as a typical water heater.

We highly recommend hardwired types for the best performance. Get a quote from a local electrician for accurate pricing, but you may be surprised how cheap adding a towel warmer to your bathroom can be. This is especially true if you’re already planning a remodel or building a new home.

Plug-in types typically have a lower BTU rating than hardwired models, and this is one of the main reasons hardwired takes the top spot. Hardwired models can also be connected to smart home systems and programmable timers for extra convenience. There are timer modules that you can use for plug-in types as well, as pictured below.

We’re going to take a look at some of the top models from Amba and we’ve grouped them by width. In each width category, we’ve picked out some tall and short models, from 4 horizontal bars up to more than 30.

  • The Amba Antus Rack Series is the tallest at a max height of 73″.
  • The Amba Sirio Rack Series is the widest at a max width of 57″ .

That’s the max dimensions you can expect and there are models in each series that all different shapes and sizes below those maximum measurements.

Measure the space you have in mind, then decide if you want a taller rack or a wide one. If you don’t have much room for a wide model, then you can get a taller one to fit more towels, and vice versa if you don’t have much vertical space.

Hardwired – 21″ Width

Amba Quadro 2016

This hardwired model is relatively small and suitable for one full-size towel. The horizontal bars are large and tightly packed, which improves heat transfer.

Check Amazon Price

At 20.5 inches wide, the Amba Quadro 2016, made in Italy, is one of their smaller options and is a good choice for if you just don’t have the wall space for the larger models.

The Quadro 2016 is going to hold 1-2 towels depending on how, and if, you fold them. The horizontal bars give you a nice large surface area for the towels to stay in contact with the warmer. Additionally, the 3-year warranty is one one of the longer warranties provided by Amba, and much better than

Hardwired – 25″ Width

Amba Sirio 2142

Now we’re getting up to the power range where you’ll start noticing some heating of the room, but at 232 Watts it’s still much less than a typical space heater. You can expect to fit 2 full-size towels on this rack. It has 16 horizontal cylindrical bars.

  • 791 BTUs – 232 Watts
  • Average Temp Range: 131-167 F
  • Built-in Digital Heat Controller – 9 Heat Settings
  • 115 Volts
  • Dimensions: 42.75″ H x 24.5″ W; Protrudes 4.75″ from wall
  • 3-year Warranty
Check Amazon Price

The Sirio 2142 comes with a built-in heat controller that lets you vary the heat from 131 to 167 degrees F. That feature alone is a huge value. Adding a digital controller to the models that don’t have it included can cost around $250.

If you’ve got the space and budget, then the Sirio 2142 is a nice upgrade to the Quadro 2016 above.


Hardwired – 32″ Width

Amba Antus A2856B

One of the larger models, the Antus 2856 can hold 2 to 4 full-size towels and features 32 cylindrical bars. Not only can this rack warm your towels, but your bathroom as well.

  • 1807 BTUs – 530 Watts
  • Average Temp Range: 131-167 F
  • Built-in Digital Heat Controller – 9 Heat Settings
  • 115 Volts
  • Dimensions: 58.38″ H x 31.5″ W; Protrudes 4.31″ from wall
  • 3-year Warranty
Check Amazon Price

At 5 feet tall, this towel warmer is about as large as most people are willing to go. Depending on how you mount it, some people might have trouble reaching a towel on the top rack.

This rack can put out some real heat and includes a digital controller for adjusting the heat output. It’s also designed to be turned on continuously, but that’s optional.

Comparison Table

ModelWidthHeightWattageTowelsAvailability
Runtal Neptune20"46"6002-3$1,434.42 at Amazon
Amba Jeeves21"54"2402-4$1,168.00 at Amazon
WarmlyYours Metropolitan20"42"1502$242.68 at Amazon
Amba Quadro21"19"921from $496.00 at Amazon
Amba Sirio21"42"2322$1,032.00 at Amazon
WarmlyYours Riviera24"32"1502$298.19 at Amazon
Runtal Radia24"29"4502$1,183.58 at Amazon
Runtal Radia30"46"9002-3$1,428.10 at Amazon
Amba Sirio33"35"2322$968.00 at Amazon
Amba Antus32"59"5302-4$2,000.00 at Amazon

Here’s a quick glance at the size and power of some of the models in this category. One thing is for sure, you can get as much or as little as you want from these towel warmers. Keep in mind all of the models above are hardwired electric and will require an electrician to complete the installation. It’s a simple install, but requires more effort than plug-in types and the freestanding racks.

For additional information about Amba heated towel racks check out their comparison page.

If you’re interested in Runtal towel warmers you can find their page here.


 Freestanding Heated Towel Racks

Freestanding towel warmers are plug-in style and have a lower maximum heat output than hardwired racks.  However, they’re easier to use.

  • Typically units are 150W and produce about 500 BTU/hour.
  • Warm-up times range from 10 to 20 minutes, but ambient temperature can affect this.
  • Don’t expect these units to warm up your bathroom.

Hardwired racks have significantly higher BTU ratings, which addresses the primary complaint about freestanding racks. More heat!

That’s not to say freestanding racks can’t warm towels, but you will not get the same warmth as a hardwired rack with higher BTU output.  It’s just physics. The other side of the coin is, however, not everyone wants to or can install a hardwired rack, and that’s what these freestanding towel warmers and cabinet towel warmers are for.

Top Choice: Amba Solo 33

The competition in the freestanding towel warmer category is pretty weak. We have to give this spot to Amba, mainly because of their 2-year warranty on the heating element.

  • 5 ft. Power Cable
  • 512 BTUs – 150 Watts
  • 149 Degrees F Max
  • 115 Volts
  • Dimensions: 32.5″ L x 15″ W x 38″ H
  • 2-year Warranty
Check Amazon Price

One of the common complaints about the Amba Solo is the feet not being level. While this is inconvenient, it doesn’t actually affect how warm your towels get. There are also many solutions out there that can remedy this problem, such as rubber stabilizers.


Warmer Buckets for Towels

One of the most popular models in this category has been the Brookstone Towel Warmer. However, about 42% of reviewers on Amazon give it 1 to 3 stars. With the primary complaints being unit failure and poor heating.

For those reasons, we’re recommending the Haven Towel Warmer that looks very similar to the Brookstone, but has more positive reviews.

Top Choice: Haven Towel Warmer

Bucket towel warmers are easier to place than cabinet or wall-mount warmers in most bathrooms. It’s made to sit on the floor, like a clothes hamper, and you just pull out a towel when you need it. This model holds 2 towels and has an automatic shut-off.

Check Amazon Price $149.99

Warmer buckets and bins are similar to cabinets, in that they completely enclose the towels, but are placed on the floor like a freestanding rack. That means you don’t need counter space or any other type of shelving to use them.

These towel warmer buckets, based on reviews, don’t have a long lifespan. Certainly, not as long as the wall-mount racks. Not only that, but you get longer warranties with most of the metal racks, generally 2 or 3 years.

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