Adding a suitable heater to a tiny toilet for my mum

9 Jun 2008
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United Kingdom
Hi there. I need to somehow add a small time programmable heater to my mother's tiny downstairs toilet to make it more useable after a recent period of illness. It can't be one of those blower heaters that you turn on when you enter the room, as they still take time to heat the room up. Making using the room unappealing due to how cold it gets. It needs to be kept at a constant tolerable temperature during the daytime period.

The room itself is only 180mm x 100mm x 210mm with the only electrical 'outlet' being the one light in the ceiling. Could something like this be handled by myself? Ie a willing son hoping to save his mum some money? Or would it be something that requires an electrician? I was thinking something like a light fitting exists that breaks out an additional electrical outlet?

Any advice really appreciated as my mum needs this done asap. Also if anyone has any heater recommendations I'd really like to hear them too. The room is so small that finding a suitable heater is proving difficult. I was looking at tubular heaters but they don't seem to come in any programmable variants, just thermostat controlled? And I'd like to have it turn itself off during the night to save electricity.
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Oil filled radiator with timer.

You'll need to install a 13A socket in the toilet, you can't run it from a lighting circuit. It does not require an electrician to do this, it is well within the scope of a competent DIYer.

Where is the nearest 13A outlet? It may be possible to take a spur from that to a new socket in the loo, if that socket is not already a spur. Otherwise you will have to find a socket that is on the ring to spur from. Determining that may require some test equipment and the know-how to use it. If you are not confident that you can do this then you should get an electrician - or a knowledgable friend to help you.
You could fit an electrically heated towel rail. The power usage is very low, often around 300watts. You can in fact run it off a lighting circuit (which is normally fused at 6Amp, which will supply up to 1400 Watts. Modern lighting is mostly with LEDs, which use insignificant current.


Because of the low power, you can use some central heating thermostats and timers, especially the ones with mechanical contacts, usually rated to 6A or more.
Rated for 6Amp resistive load

You do not need to use a plug and socket. You can use a flex outlet. If supplied from a lighting circuit, it dies not even need to be a fused one.

If there is a power socket in an adjacent room, you can drill through the wall behind it and fit a fused outlet in a convenient pidition pror Ted from drops and splashes.

WC cubicles are usually small, so even 250W will make it tolerably warm. Rather than a timer, I'd suggest leaving it on permanently, as you will want it to be heated even if used at night. The thermostat will reduce the time it is on to cold weather only, and will turn it off once up to temperature.

I'd recommend putting it where it will not be used as a grab rail, and using long screws plugged into the wall.

For a person who is frail or disabled, fit a grab rail to help getting on and off the WC. They are not expensive. I have fitted several in bathrooms and WCs, the stainless or chrome ones look like, and can be used as, towel rails at other times.

I recommend stainless as it will not rust, is easy to clean, and will not be damaged by cleaning products or stained like paint. 600mm is big enough to use both hands. You will not slip down a horizontal one.

Painted ones are cheaper. A disabled person might get them free from a support agency.
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Thanks so much for the replies. @JohnD When you say a flex outlet from a light fitting how would that work in practice? Can the light still work? Are there any examples of what you mean? If the light has to be on I could always put a low wattage bulb in there I suppose. I like the idea of having a always on heated towel rail, that could be ideal.
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You can take the power from the ceiling rose.

In common UK lighting, the rose contains a permanent live and neutral in, and looping out to the next fitting

And a cable going to the switch, which, when "on" provides power back to the terminal that supplies the light bulb

So for a heater, you would connect to the permanent live and neutral (and earth) terminals

If you have access above the ceiling, you can run the new cable along there, and bring it down in a corner of the room, perhaps concealed in mini-trunking for neatness, rather than draped across the ceiling. I would suggest an isolating DP switch on the wall with an indicating neon.
A standard thermostat isn't safe to use in a wet environment, so it needs to be outside of the prescribed zones but, even if done, it's likely to corrode and give up working fairly quickly.

A neat solution is a fused isolator switch at the top of the wall and a thermostatic towel rail wired from an outlet. See attached photos of mine.



This is a Terma thermostatic element/controller in a standard towel rail radiator. I bought this pre-assembled and filled from a website, I forget where.

The Terma unit will maintain a constant room temperature. It also has a basic timer - if it's off then press the bottom left button to switch on for two hours then off again. It also keeps a frost guard while off, it switches on at around 7 or 8 degrees.

If you need a proper timer then that would be best fitted outside the room, perhaps on the wall outside the door. You'd need to check whether the Terma units remain on when power is removed and re-connected (they probably do though).
A standard thermostat isn't safe to use in a wet environment, so it needs to be outside of the prescribed zones

Bathrooms have zones.

A bathroom is a room containing a fixed bath or shower.

A WC cubicle is not a bathroom and does not have zones.
Any advice really appreciated as my mum needs this done asap.
Where in the world are you? (or more to the point where is this toilet) your "Location" is listed as Europe, your "country" is listed with a UK flag and you use the american term "outlet".
Thanks again for all the replies everyone. Sorry, I messed up the measurements, mm instead of cm..:rolleyes: @plugwash I'm in SE UK. Forgive the Americanism, socket then?

@JohnD Looking at the prices of heated towel racks on screwfix, they're a wee bit pricey. I was hoping for something more round the £50 mark. Would any of the ones on amazon for around £50 be ok to use? Or would they not throw out enough heat to be used as a heater?
I have no knowledge of Amazon products.

Reputable brands of electrical goods are usually trustworthy.
Checked another supplier.

Apart from a couple on clearance, they do seem to be more expensive than I thought

I don't remember what mine cost

Painted ones can be cheaper.

Plumbworld sometimes have good clearance offers.

Pipe heaters are much less powerful, but better than nothing.
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@JohnD Thanks a lot for taking the time to write that, I really appreciate it. I think I'll go for one of the Plumbworld rails then.

Looking at the extras needed would this outlet along with the back box be suitable?

Since the cables will be external, would it be acceptable to drill a hole into the top of the back box to run the cable from the light fitting through?
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