Smart radiator covers let New Yorkers keep their windows closed

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Having owned an old home with a two pipe steam heating system - and having to repair it - there’s always been options to put thermostats on individual radiators. The main problem isn’t the thermostat control on these steam systems; it because owners don’t replace the “steam traps” - a valve that closes off the radiator exit and either fails closed (leaving no heat) or open (leaving heat always on & open windows. Not batteries needed with the old tech. And they’ll last forever. The ones with the remote sensors work better.


link? i’ve been looking for something like this that doesn’t need batteries.

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Here’s a few for a quick web search. You’ll need to know if your system is a one pipe or two pipe steam system & the pipe diameter to order the right size. And you’ll need a good pipe wrench - maybe a breaker bar pipe if you need extra leverage like I do.

I like this company - large catalog of steam heat products:

One pipe system version:


Search on “danfoss thermostatic radiator valve”. Be aware that they are different between two-pipe steam, one-pipe steam, and hot-water heat models. My experience with hot-water versions is that you need to keep one or two radiators in a system with open manual valves so that the water can still circulate whenever the “boiler” is operating, otherwise a rise in ambient temperature will cut off the warm return water to the thermostat that tells the burner to stop heating.


thank you, I currently have the old school valves like this:|202246271

they kinda work but aren’t great, I also need to insulate and air seal more too.


Yeah - they don’t work so well. Much more control with the newer ones with the remote sensor. If you’re right on top of the radiator it messes with the thermostat function.

Is USA the new UK regarding holding on to old technology way past its obsolocence in the rest of the industrialized world?


My thoughts exactly. I lived in a 1920’s restoration apartment building with steam radiators that had valves similar to these attached.

Once you get used to the various hisses and groans steam heat is pretty kickass (unless your apartment super waits until the nights regularly hit 50 before turning the system on).

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I don’t think steam is all that inefficient. True it’s harnessed with some old tech, but it seems like most of that old tech is easily upgraded and modernized at a lot less cost that refitting an entire building to a new form of central heat.

This seemed insane before I watched the video, since I never lived in a place with a steam radiator and I assumed this was some snarky commentary on new yorkers. GUESS I GOT LEARNED SOMETHING TODAY.


Yes, this amazing new radiator cover seems like the most expensive possible solution to a problem manageable with a $8-$50 valve device. But it’s WIFI!!! Isn’t that awesome!

I guess I’m just old school, I don’t even have TRV’s. When my tenants complain about a room too hot or cold I adjust the vent port.

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New York (and to a lesser extent, Chicago) utilizes a lot of old tech that’s deeply wired into the city’s structure; their theory seems to be ‘well, it still works.’ Steam pipes, pneumatic tubes… it’s kind of fascinating, but it’s part of the city’s charm and flavor.

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Ahem. We don’t say “thermostat” in the 21st century. We say “smart.”

Thermostats are for electricians and their ilk, not Transhumans like us.


Shouldn’t we throw a virtual, 3 d printed, e or app on top of that? Jeez - my thermostat is going to be more social networked than me.


It’s primitive, but incredibly progressive. Steam is provided free. Except the homeless, no New Yorker has to be cold in the winter.

(And yes yes, homelessness is a heinous problem, but it is not caused by steam heat.)

Er, not really. It’s true that some buildings in Manhattan receive very-low-cost steam from Con Edison’s power plants. But they’re a fraction of the island’s total, let alone the five boroughs’. Most New Yorkers pay directly for their steam heat, which is (in buildings of any real size) typically generated by oil- or gas-burning Scotch marine boilers.


It sounds like the most important thing this gadget does, is to notify the building manager when a steam trap has failed… Since that’s your thermostat in an old fashioned steam system.

I came here to say that the specific heat capacity of steam must be terrible compared to water. But then I looked it up, and it’s a bit below half (2.0 vs. 4.2 kJ/kgK). Which is actually rather good. I guess I learned something too.

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I lived in an apartment in Brooklyn that had adjustable radiators, but our kitchen was directly over the building’s furnace, so it didn’t matter. We frequently did have the window open in the winter.