Heated Towel Rails: Plug-in vs Hard-Wired

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There are many different models and styles of heated towel rails.

There are two main types of heated towel rails that have different installation requirements; plug-in models and hard-wired models.

Plug In Heated Towel Rail

Plug-in models

Plug-in models have a cable that plugs in to a power outlet, much like any electrical appliance. All that is required to be installed is a power outlet (unless you already have one in the correct location), and then the heated towel rail can be installed and plugged in. Just make sure to use the proper fixings for they type of wall you're installing the towel rail on to make sure it stays firmly attached to the wall!

In terms of functionality, these models operate the same way as hard-wired versions and are slightly cheaper and easier to install. However there are some important drawbacks to consider.

There are important Australian regulations about wiring and electrical devices in wet areas such as bathrooms, which dictate how close power outlets can be installed to baths, showers and wash basins. Smaller bathrooms or bathrooms with open showers might not have any appropriate ‘safe areas’ that power outlets can be installed in compliance with Electrical Safety Standards. Always consult with your electrician if you are unsure about the safety of any electrical appliance, especially in wet areas!

Aesthetically, plug-in models may not be as appealing as hard-wired options because there is a cable that is visible. The cable usually comes out the bottom or side of the heated towel rail and will be visible when plugged into a power outlet. This does not affect the functionality of the unit, but means that it is not as visually streamlined as hard-wired options.

Hard wired heated towel rail

Hard-wired models

Hard-wired heated towel rails have no unsightly cables visible, so they are a much more aesthetically pleasing option if you are looking for an eye-catching design feature for your bathroom.

These towel rails can be installed almost anywhere in the bathroom as they do not rely on a power outlet that must be installed in a ‘safe area’. The hidden cabling means that they are safe to install close to wet areas such as showers or baths. Most electric heated towel rails have an IP (Ingress Protection) Rating of IP55, which means that the water resistance rating is high enough for them to be installed in wet areas. Always consult with your electrician to decide where your heated towel rail can be installed.

Hard-wired heated towel rails are usually a slightly more expensive option than plug-in models as the installation is more complex and the rail must be installed by a qualified electrician.


Kenner Electrics recommends ThermoGroup for high quality heated towel rails. If you’re looking for advice or would like a heated towel rail professionally installed, contact Kenner Electrics on (03) 9996 0663.

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