Bathroom Towel Warmer Costs
$350 – $795 Installed
How Much Does it Cost to Install a Towel Warmer in your Bathroom?
$60 – $450
$460 – $795
$800 – $3,000+
|Towel Warmer Cost||$60 – $450||$200 – $795||$475 – $3,000|
|Installation Cost||$0 – $200||$0 – 350||$0 – $600|
|Type||Plug-in or Wired||Plug, Wired or Hydronic||Plug, Wired or Hydronic|
|Quality||Cheap to Average||Average to Good||Good to Excellent|
|Size||Small to Medium||Medium to Large||Medium to Large|
|Controls/Accessories||None or Basic||Basic to Mid-Range||Mid-Range to High-End|
Overview of Bathroom Towel Warmers
Wrapping yourself in a heated towel is a luxurious post-shower ritual. Kids love them after their bath, and the warmer, also called a heated towel rail or rack, can be used to dry the towel too. After all, who wants to step out of a nice warm shower or bath, only to use a cold towel?
This cost guide includes an overview of towel warmer costs, types and options. We detail both retail cost and the cost of installation labor. Plus, we’ve pulled together costs from trustworthy estimating sites and invited readers to share their costs, something we hope you’ll do after you’ve installed yours.
Types of Towel Warmers
Plugin Towel Warmers
Plug-in towel warmers are the most affordable towel warmers. They give you the convenience of moving the unit from room to room. The downside is having a cord on the ground or countertop and limited outlet options.
They use a 120V outlet like most other small appliances. Heating elements start at 60 watts. Most are 300 to 600 watts. Some are 1,000 watts or more. Plug-in towel heaters are available in wall-mounted and stand-alone models.
For safety, it’s best to plug the warmer into an outlet with ground fault circuit interrupter (GFCI) protection. If a bathtub overflows or similar accident occurs, and the towel warmer’s wiring gets wet, the GFCI plug will immediately interrupt the flow of power to prevent risk of electrical shock.
Wired Towel Warmers
Hardwired towel warmers are the most popular types, so there are many more styles available. These are 120 volts too and are wall-mounted heaters. High-end electric towel warmers are often very stylish and called Designer towel warmers or heaters. Some electric towel warmers offer you the option of plugging them in or removing the plug and hardwiring them for permanent installation.
Hot Water Towel Warmers (Hydronic)
Hydronic towel warmers are connected to a water heater. For this reason, they are sometimes called towel radiators.
Hot water towel heater prices start at about $170, and installation cost slightly higher than wiring an electric unit. Most manufacturers recommend installing a hydronic unit during home construction or remodeling of the bathroom. Those are the easiest, so most affordable, times to do the work.
Steel construction hydronic towel warmers require a water heater of their own, aka a closed loop system. A tankless water heater is a good choice.
The main reason for this is that hot water might cause oxidation in some towel heaters or cause chemicals to leech from the metal. Both have potential health risks for anyone using the water at a tap, the shower or laundry after it has been through the towel warmer. Of course, salt-softened water will quickly rust a steel warmer. Warmers with stainless steel or brass tubing make more sense.
According to Myson, a manufacturer of hydronic towel warmers, “Brass towel warmers may be used in all closed loop systems and most open loop systems except in California and Vermont. Stainless Steel warmers may be used in open or closed loop systems in all states.”
Product Cost Details
Towel Warmer Price Factors
How much does a bathroom towel warmer cost? Few home improvement projects come with such a wide range of potential costs.
These factors will determine price.
- Plug-in Vs Wired or Plumbed – In terms of total project cost, plug-in units cost the least. DIY hardwired towel racks are next. Hiring an electrician to wire an electric unit to an existing circuit and paying a plumber to plumb a hydronic unit to an existing water heater cost nearly the same. Installing a towel heater and a dedicated water heater for a closed-loop system costs the most. Electric units rarely need a dedicated circuit since they draw 60 watts (single standard bulb) to 1,000 watts (hair dryer). These are best done when you remodel your bathroom and the costs can be significantly lower due to other updates at the same time.
- Quality – You can imagine that a $60 electric plug-in model is relatively cheap. Cost rises with quality.
- Style – Expect to pay more for “designer” towel warmers with unique, artistic design.
- Finish – The most common materials are chrome ($-$$$$), painted steel and carbon steel ($-$$$), nickel and bronze ($-$$$), stainless steel and aluminum ($$-$$$).
- Size – The smallest warmers hold one towel or two scrunched together. The largest comfortably hold 4+ towels. All else being equal, cost rises with size.
- Accessories – Cost goes up with the addition of a programmable timer, WiFi module, temperature control, auto shut-off, On/Off indicator light, shelf, robe knob or hook or a pull-out mini drying rack.
- Hydronic Towel Warmer Construction – Those with steel internal parts cost the least but aren’t durable. While those with brass or stainless steel interiors cost more, they last much longer.
Retail Cost of Towel Warmers
Prices at bath specialty shops and websites tend to be a little higher than those at home improvement stores like Home Depot and Lowes. Put another way, the specialty shops and sites tend to have the range of warmers you’ll find at big box stores plus a selection of high-end units not readily available elsewhere.
Here is a look at towel warmer prices by type. There is little price difference between plug-in and direct-wired warmers.
- $60 – $3,500 | Electric Towel Warmers. Best Selection – $200 to $500.
- $170 – $4,000 | Hydronic or Hot Water Towel Warmers. Best Selection – $300 to $750
Permits, Inspection, Related Costs and Installation Time
Permits and Inspection Cost
- $50 – $125 | Electrical or Plumbing Permit for a Small Project. You’ll need a permit to wire or plumb a towel warmer. If you hire an electrician or plumber, they will obtain the permit and include the cost in their estimate/invoice.
Related Costs and Installation Time
Whether installation is required is the biggest cost factor. Wiring or plumbing a towel heater is best done during construction or remodeling. Cost goes up when installing a warmer in a finished bathroom because it is more invasive, time consuming and often requires drywall or tile work.
Here are costs when the wiring or plumbing is accessible during bathroom remodeling. Expect to pay 50% to 100% more in a finished bathroom.
- $125 – $225 plus the permit | Wiring and Installing an Electric Towel Warmer
- $165 – $350 plus the permit | Plumbing and Installing a Hydronic Towel Warmer
How long it takes depends on the work to be done.
- 30-60 Minutes | Installing an electric towel warmer when the junction box is in place
- 45-90 Minutes | Installing a hydronic warmer when the rough plumbing is in place
- 1-2 Hours | Installing the wiring, connection box and electric warmer when the wall space is open
- 2-4 Hours | Installing the rough plumbing and hydronic towel warmer when the wall space is open
DIY or Hire a Pro?
Degree of difficulty and the expertise required depends on whether you’re installing an electric or hydronic model and whether the connections have been roughed in. Let’s explain.
Electric: If wiring and a junction box is in place for your towel warmer, then installing it is as DIY-friendly as installing a light fixture. Make the wiring connections by following the diagram included with the unit. Add wire nuts, push the wiring into the junction box and secure the cover to it.
If a box hasn’t been installed, electric installation is still straightforward when the wall is open. Here’s a quick overview of what is involved. Be sure to closely follow the detailed instruction manual that comes with your heater.
- Mount the junction box (j-box) on a stud where you want to locate the warmer.
- Run wire off an existing circuit to the box.
- Cut the wire and strip ½” of housing off the leads.
- Make sure the plate that will cover the junction box is slipped over the towel warmer where the wiring enters.
- Connect the leads to the leads on the electric warmer using the included wiring diagram
- Add wire nuts to secure the connections, and push excess wiring into the box.
- Once the wall is finished, secure the cover plate to the box, and you’re done.
Hydronic: When the bathroom has been plumbed for a heater, then DIY installation is probably something you can do, especially if you’ve installed other plumbing fixtures with success. Carefully follow the instruction guide for making the plumbing connections and securing the unit to the wall.
Here’s another option. If you have a boiler and there’s a radiator in the bathroom, you might be able to directly replace it with a towel radiator. Of course, the fittings where water enters and leaves will have to be spaced the same. This can be, and often is, accomplished.
What if plumbing for a heater hasn’t been installed?
When the plumbing is exposed during construction or a remodel, tapping into existing plumbing is an easy job for an experienced plumber.
The work requires specialized tools and skills for cutting pipe, soldering fittings and making water-tight connections. We recommend hiring a plumber for the work.
Bottom line: When the bathroom wiring or plumbing has been roughed, then installing an electric or hydronic towel warmer is a DIY job.