WarmaTowel Electric Towel Warmer (Floor Model)

This is how my winter mornings usually seem to go, and I would be willing to bet
bet that yours are somewhat similar:  The alarm goes off way too early and
I have to climb out of my supremely warm and cozy bed. As my feet hit the cold
hardwood floor and the icy bedroom air assaults me, I shiver knowing what is
waiting as I enter the tile lined bathroom. Never mind that the central heat is
cranking out at a steady 68º, it might as well be
68 below. As I disrobe, I turn the hot water on full blast and hope that the
steam will help the room reach an acceptable temperature. After defrosting in
the shower and enjoying the attention of the massaging showerhead’s blisteringly
hot water on the back of my neck and shoulders – I dread what is coming next:
the transition from hot shower to frigid bathroom. Even though I have
positioned my towel for easy access, it does little to warm me as I brave the
artic confines of my bathroom. The vent above the bathroom door might as well be
blowing refrigerated air, it is that ineffective. Shivering and chattering, I
hastily dry off and get dressed. It is only once I am fully clothed that I can
finally relax…more or less ready to face another day. This is how it goes from
late fall, through the winter and into early spring – yes, even here in West
Texas.

Other than the open flame gas heaters that some
older homes still have in their bathrooms, it seems like no one ever takes into
consideration the trauma of starting off your day with such a rude awakening,
but what are you gonna do? It is just part of the process of waking up.

When Julie and I traveled to
Scotland
last year, we stayed at the
Grange Flats,
a modernized Victorian apartment. Bringing back fond childhood memories of my
grandparents home in Minersville, Pennsylvania, the Scottish flat was kept warm
primarily with

radiators
. To be honest, until that trip I had almost completely forgotten
about them, having lived in a centrally heated and cooled home for the last
twenty years. I truly enjoyed getting a hasty refresher course on one of the
biggest benefits of having a radiator in the bathroom – a warmer room and a
heated towel after a hot shower.

There are almost no words to describe the delicious comfort of stepping out
of a hot shower and picking up a warmed towel on a cool morning. Unfortunately,
retrofitting my bathroom with a radiator is not a viable option, much as I like
the idea.

There is an alternative for people in my situation, however – heated towel
racks.

I have noticed various models in catalogs, and have seen that they can be
priced anywhere from the $100 level to thousands of dollars. While it
would appear that there is something available for every budget, sometimes going
with the least expensive isn’t the smartest thing to do. With that in mind, I
wanted to try a model in the mid-range. I wanted to see how well it was
constructed, how easy it was to use, and how well it performed.

I asked Julie to contact the
Sussman Lifestyle Group
to ask if I could review a sample from their
WarmaTowel
line. For those that are unfamiliar with
Sussman, they have been
offering steam and sauna products both commercially and residentially for over
50 years. According to their site, they are the only "American
company that designs, engineers, manufactures, and supplies UL/CSA/CE
Residential Steambath Generators, UL/CSA/ASME Commercial Steambath Generators,
UL/CSA Sauna Heaters and CUL Towel Warmers — technologically advanced,
innovative products that consistently set the industry standard.
"

Looking at their WarmaTowel
model list, I
was not surprised to see that the majority of their products are intended to be
built-in either during initial construction or during remodeling. Since I did
not want to fool with any hard wiring, I knew not to even look at these models.
Fortunately, there was a plug-in version available which would work for my
testing purposes. I asked to review the electric Floor Model (W556), which is
available in the following finishes: polished chrome, polished brass, polished
nickel, satin nickel, polished gold, oil rubbed bronze, brushed nickel and
pewter. I was sent the polished chrome version.

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Isn’t it lovely and elegant in its simplicity?

The entire kit came in a rather large flat package which weighed quite a bit
more than I had expected – over 20 pounds! All WarmaTowel racks use solid brass
construction and the electric models, such as the one I received, also include a
built-in stainless steel heater. All models, except for this free-standing
version, are meant to be hard-wired into the wall.

There are also a few Hydronic models available which are kept hot by the
house’s water heating system. I am not sure how much boiling water has to be
moved through the house’s pipes to make this model effective, but considering
that it can take a couple of minutes for the water in my shower to even get hot,
I don’t know that this method would work for me. But I digress…

The Floor Model rack is delivered in three pieces: the ladder and two legs.
Each leg is screwed into its respective side on the bottom of the rack and an
allen wrench is used for tightening. Once assembled, the rack feels substantial
and stable. There is no wobbling and it actually somewhat resembles a radiator –
a twenty-first century version, that is! The complete rack measures 34" tall x
23′ wide and 10" deep at the base. The beams and cross-members measure right at
one inch wide.

When you are ready to begin using the rack, you just insert the three-pronged
tip into a grounded plug, and the rack will soon begin to warm. One complaint I
have is in regards to the electric cord included with the rack. It is only 51"
long (including the plug), which means that the rack must be placed right next
to the outlet. While I realize that this is probably a safety measure, I would
have liked it if there could have been at least a 10′ cord. That way I would
have been able to position the rack nearer the shower. I am all about easy
access!

   
   
Note the nice heavy-duty cord connection. It looks like it
will last through many years of use.

Once plugged in, it takes about fifteen minutes for the WarmaTowel  to
emit a warm steady glow, not unlike that of a radiator turned to lower setting.
In a small space, such as the average bathroom, the rack will actually begin to
warm the entire area as well as the towels placed upon it. While on, the rack
never becomes so hot that touching it would burn you, though it is quite warm.
Just to be safe, I wouldn’t recommend pressing it against any body parts for
extended periods of time.

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There were no instructions regarding how long the rack could or should be
left continuously running, but I allowed it to do so for several 24 hours
periods with no ill effects. I would be more satisfied if this model had
included an on/off switch just as all the other models do. It seems
gauche to turn anything on or off by inserting or pulling its plug – especially
an item as pricy as this. However, I would imagine that in the winter I would be
tempted to just leave the rack running continuously, which I assume is
acceptable since there were no cautions included stating otherwise. In that
case, the lack of an on/off switch is not so shocking.

One of the hidden benefits that I found while using the WarmaTowel was that
if I laid a damp towel on the beams after showering, it would dry it thoroughly
before my next use, which cut down on the amount of "dirty" towels I had to
wash. Before a single one of you says "ewwww," kindly remember that after
bathing you are clean. So reusing a towel – especially when you live in a
drought-ridden region – just makes good ecological sense.

I am going to be sorry in a few days when I have to return this review item.
I have had it for almost a month, and I regret that I did not think to review it
during the colder portion of the year. Yes it is pricey, and since I have not
yet tested out a less expensive model I can’t tell you if the cost is justified
or if there is even a comparison. I suspect that the difference in price will be
reflected in the quality of materials used, the durability of the rack and in
whether it can be trusted not to explode if left running. The WarmaTowel
Electric Towel Warmer excels in all of these areas. Towels warmed on the rack
are, in a word – decadent. There is nothing better than using a hot towel
on a cold morning after showering. As a matter of fact, there is nothing better
than using a hot towel on a warm morning after showering! I would love to
have one of the pivoting wall models mounted right next to my shower door. But
this Floor Model is quite fine, as long as you have the space for it and a
properly placed outlet.

Price: $779 as tested, all models and pricing shown
here.
WarmaTowel products include a five year limited
warranty.

Pros:
Warm towels ready as you step out of the shower
Less laundry as the rack will also dry towels after use
Radiated heat keeps bathroom warm

Cons:
Expensive
Short cord means that rack must be placed near outlet
The only way to turn freestanding model on or off is by plugging or unplugging

If you liked this story, be sure to read our other stories:


 

Product Information

Price:779.0
Manufacturer:Sussman Lifestyle Group
Pros:
  • Warm towels ready as you step out of the shower
  • Less laundry as the rack will also dry towels after use
  • Radiated heat keeps bathroom warm
Cons:
  • Expensive
  • Short cord means that rack must be placed near outlet
  • The only way to turn freestanding model on or off is by plugging or unplugging
31 comments… add one
  • Judie May 17, 2004, 6:12 pm

    Post your comments here on the WarmaTowel® Electric Towel Warmer (Floor Model).

    http://www.the-gadgeteer.com/warmatowel-review.html

    Just click the POST REPLY button on this page.

  • JohnKes May 17, 2004, 6:54 pm

    I have used a towel warmer in a fancy hotel before. You are right, a warmed towel feels quite decadent!

    For that price they could have included a timer, so that it would be warm and ready to go in the morning. How much power does this thing use? Timers from Home Depot can handle about 1000 watts.

  • Judie May 17, 2004, 7:14 pm

    John,

    I agree about the timer! There is one available, but I think that it is only for the hard-wired electric models. Here is the link: http://www.mrsteam.com/products/warma_prices.html

    I bet that the 1000watt timer from Home Depot would be more than adequate to control this rack.

    Judie :0)

  • One of One May 17, 2004, 8:50 pm

    I’ve seen these before, but this seems awfully expensive. I’ve seen these for far less – $250. Maybe there’s a difference in quality.

    And not meaning to “pick on you”, but I have to take issue with one thing you said…

    “…it would dry it thoroughly before my next use, which cut down on the amount of “dirty” towels I had to wash. Before a single one of you says “ewwww,” kindly remember that after bathing you are clean.”

    If that were entirely true, you’d never have to wash the towel again. When you come out of the shower, there’s always dead skin and trace amounts of dirt on your body that’s removed and transferred to the towel, which is the reason it has to be thrown into the washer. If you don’t believe me, consider drying off with someone else’s towel after they’ve used it once.

    But to your credit…

    “So reusing a towel – especially when you live in a drought-ridden region – just makes good ecological sense.”

    I do understand where you’re coming from.

    But a warm towel, I could imagine, would feel great during the cold winter months! 😀

  • Judie May 17, 2004, 9:12 pm

    Originally posted by One of One
    [B](snip)And not meaning to “pick on you”, but I have to take issue with one thing you said…

    “…it would dry it thoroughly before my next use, which cut down on the amount of “dirty” towels I had to wash. Before a single one of you says “ewwww,” kindly remember that after bathing you are clean.”

    If that were entirely true, you’d never have to wash the towel again. When you come out of the shower, there’s always dead skin and trace amounts of dirt on your body that’s removed and transferred to the towel, which is the reason it has to be thrown into the washer. If you don’t believe me, consider drying off with someone else’s towel after they’ve used it once. (snip)[/B]

    That’s why I would only dry off with my own towel, not someone else’s. this is also a great argument for exfoliating with a loofah while in the shower.;)

    Nah…In all honesty, I figure there are so many germs and cooties floating around that sometimes it is silly to be too picky about cleanliness. For instance – have you ever seen those magnifications of the secret world living in your bed’s mattress? That definitely rates an “ewwwwwwww!!!”

    Anyway, I am not talking about using the same towel until it can stand on its own, just for more than one shower – and I know that you got the gist of what I was saying. 🙂

  • Judie May 17, 2004, 9:15 pm

    Originally posted by One of One
    [B]I’ve seen these before, but this seems awfully expensive. I’ve seen these for far less – $250. Maybe there’s a difference in quality.
    [/B]

    I hope to get one in that price range to review, so that I can compare the quality. It will be interesting to see if there is a huge difference…

  • pacific85 May 17, 2004, 9:29 pm

    I think you could also find a towel warmer at Bed Bath & Beyond or Linen’s and Things for about $50. I was considering them as Christmas gifts last year for my mom and inlaws. $700 is *way* beyond my price range.

    They might be seasonal items though. I’d run them with a timer that would start a few hours before my normal shower time to a couple of hours after. I think it would waste electricity if it was run continuously.

    I would guess that it only uses 50 to 100 watts of power. Maybe a little more, but about the power needed for a light bulb. There should be a label on the unit.

  • Error94 May 17, 2004, 10:17 pm

    Someone is making a hefty profit on some pipe and a heating element! 😮

    I have owned a much less expensive model that worked great!

    In regards to the cord length, my personal preference is always for a short cord. If the cord is short, you can always add an extension. But if you have 10′ of cord and only 1′ to the outlet, you have 9′ of ugly cord to deal with.

  • Judie May 18, 2004, 3:40 am

    Error94 – I guess I just dislike adding an extension cord as much as you dislike extra cord.

    pacific85 – $50?? Really?? Find me a link. I would love to test a $50 unit and see how it compares. 🙂

  • ToolkiT May 18, 2004, 4:32 am

    Originally posted by Judie
    That’s why I would [b]only dry off with my own towel, not someone else’s. this is also a great argument for exfoliating with a loofah while in the shower.;)

    Nah…In all honesty, I figure there are so many germs and cooties floating around that sometimes it is silly to be too picky about cleanliness. For instance – have you ever seen those magnifications of the secret world living in your bed’s mattress? That definitely rates an “ewwwwwwww!!!”

    Anyway, I am not talking about using the same towel until it can stand on its own, just for more than one shower – and I know that you got the gist of what I was saying. 🙂 [/B]

    I totaly agree with Judie, there is nothing wrong with using a towel twice… We do that all the time..
    A lot of people dont realize that your imune system actually needs a certain level of dirt/bacteria to function. if it has nothing to fight it will start fight harmless things and create allergia’s..

    BTW how often do you change your kitchen/toilet handtowel? That is a way higher risk of infection then your shower towel..

  • Ronald_L May 18, 2004, 12:23 pm

    Don’t you have got central heating in your bathroom?
    Just drop the towel over the radiator.:o

  • Julie May 18, 2004, 12:29 pm

    Hehehe, that’s exactly what I do in the winter. The first thing I do when I wake up is to jack up the furnance and then pile the towels over the register. 😉

  • ObscureStooge May 18, 2004, 1:02 pm

    Originally posted by ToolkiT
    [B]I totaly agree with Judie, there is nothing wrong with using a towel twice… We do that all the time..
    A lot of people dont realize that your imune system actually needs a certain level of dirt/bacteria to function. if it has nothing to fight it will start fight harmless things and create allergia’s..

    BTW how often do you change your kitchen/toilet handtowel? That is a way higher risk of infection then your shower towel.. [/B]

    But what’s really disgusting thing in your bathroom is the shower curtain. Check this out http://www.kansan.com/GetStory.aspx?id=2f9002e519cf431a9ab160feb405e964

  • Judie May 18, 2004, 1:34 pm

    Originally posted by Ronald_L
    [B]Don’t you have got central heating in your bathroom?
    Just drop the towel over the radiator.:o [/B]

    Ronald – I am not sure what you were trying to say, I notice you are from the Netherlands so it was probably lost in translation. But I think you are saying that you don’t have central heat, and that you do drop your towel over the radiator. Correct? If so, then you are lucky! 🙂

  • Julie May 18, 2004, 2:47 pm

    I think he meant what I commented about… He’s just calling the register (vent) a radiator…

  • Judie May 18, 2004, 3:39 pm

    Ahhh, well if that’s the case – it still won’t work in my bathroom – the vent is above the door and even if I managed to find a way to hang the towel in front of it I would be blocking the measley amount of warm air that does blow in. I can’t win for losing. :p

  • JoAnn May 18, 2004, 7:42 pm

    Just get one of those oil-filled space heaters that is shaped like an old-fashioned radiator (mine was $15 at a yard sale) and hang the towel over that!

  • ToolkiT May 19, 2004, 12:53 am

    Originally posted by Julie
    I think he meant what I commented about… He’s just calling the register (vent) a radiator…

    Nope, Central heating in the Netherlands is a radiator hot water system. While in the US it is a vented hot air system…

    So a dutch central heating system would give you a radiator where you can hang you towel on to warm up…

  • One of One May 19, 2004, 6:32 pm

    Originally posted by ToolkiT
    [B]I totaly agree with Judie, there is nothing wrong with using a towel twice… We do that all the time..
    A lot of people dont realize that your imune system actually needs a certain level of dirt/bacteria to function. if it has nothing to fight it will start fight harmless things and create allergia’s..[/B]

    Uh, OK. I think your body can manage that on it’s own without the help from a dirty towel, but whatever… :p

    Originally posted by ToolkiT
    BTW how often do you change your kitchen/toilet handtowel? That is a way higher risk of infection then your shower towel..

    I use paper towels in the kitchen and I change my handtowels every day.

    (I have to disagree with you about hand towels, though – at least in the bathroom anyway. A body towel is going to get a lot nastier far more quickly than a bathroom handtowel because we don’t wipe our butts and other “parts” on our handtowels, lol. Well, at least I don’t, ROTF).

    Each to his own.

  • questionfear May 20, 2004, 12:18 am

    well if we’re going to get into the dirtyness stuff, the nastiest is actually your sponge. I had to be food-safety certified for my job, there is NOTHING more disgusting than having to discuss the number of germs your sponge can hold.
    Actually, I take that back. The graphic description we were forced to endure of how improper food storage can kill you and everyone you love and serve in your food service environment is much worse.
    But yea, if you’re gonna worry about germs, throw out your salmonella infested sponge and buy some scrubbing pads.
    😡

  • pepe May 23, 2004, 2:46 pm

    What on Earth is The Gadgeteer up to reviewing a towel warmer? Are there no other new gadgets to review? What next, a washing machine? Come on. You can find better stuff than this surely.

  • Judie May 23, 2004, 4:19 pm

    pepe,

    We are gadgeteers. Anything electronic that serves a gadget related function is fair game.

    Julie and I both enjoy doing off the wall gadgets, so there will be more items such as this in the future.

    Judie :0)

  • FFSteve May 24, 2004, 6:37 pm

    Yeah but this is electric not electronic. I disagree that the cord is too short. Most bathrooms are small. You wouldn’t want a 10′ cord hanging around. An extension cord is easy enough. While I also found it off topic of the usual items found here I enjoyed reading the review. However, spending this much on an item without even a switch is crazy. It’s easy enough to avoid the review if you want. Please continue with the odd reviews. However, I have been feeling there has been a lack of Palm type reviews lately. I’ve been waiting for reviews on the newest PalmOne devices. Thanks and keep up the good work.

  • Julie May 24, 2004, 7:14 pm

    FFSteve & pepe:

    Get used to seeing more reviews from us that are ‘out of the ordinary’. Reviewing PDAs and accessories can get quite tedious. I don’t care if I never review another PDA case for as long as I live… 😉 Seriously, we are broadening our horizons. Consider us the Consumer Reports of everything and anything remotely gadget related. We will not abandon PDAs and PDA related reviews, but we are looking to grow the scope of the site.

  • pepe May 25, 2004, 6:10 pm

    Hi Judie. OK. Let’s see some more electronic watches. I’d like to see a review of some of Nixon’s range. I’m also interested in DAB radios, home based MP3 players and electronic weather stations. I’d like to see some reviews of plasma TVs if you can get your hands on any.

  • pepe May 25, 2004, 6:11 pm

    Sorry Julie, got your name wrong

  • Judie May 25, 2004, 6:30 pm

    If I can get my hands on a plasma TV you better believe I will be posting a review about it. 😉

    I am not adverse to doing Nixon reviews – I am a fan – I even have their Delta watch.

    All of your suggestions are great and I see them happening in the near future…well, maybe not the plasma screen any time soon, but we can try! 😎

  • Aequitas May 25, 2004, 7:16 pm

    Hey,

    I’ve just read in the paper that there was a study done about how that there are alot of germs on ties that doctors wear and that they spred germs to other patients. The doctor examines a patient and then adjustes his tie or the tie brushes up against the patient and germs are spread. I guess this is something else for people to worry about :p

    –Aequitas

  • pepe May 26, 2004, 4:08 pm

    Judie – got plasma tele, got Nixon Dork watch so if you want pics/reviews then just get in touch.

  • TheDreamer May 26, 2004, 6:07 pm

    Originally posted by FFSteve
    Yeah but this is electric not electronic. I disagree that the cord is too short. Most bathrooms are small. You wouldn’t want a 10′ cord hanging around.

    Meanwhile…I have a 25′ heavy duty extension cord snaking through my tiny bathroom…..

    It powers a radiant heater that keeps me from freezing in the winter time while sitting infront of my computer.

    There isn’t enough power in the ‘computer’ room to run the heater, hence the extension cord 😮

    Now I’ve been planting small fans all around…trying to keep the room cool…. 🙁

    The Dreamer.

    Oh yeah…in my other bathroom there is a small 10′ cord snaking up around the mirror….used to run a small CD boombox in the corner, but I got rid of it….it would play MP3 or WMA CDs….but I’m an iTunes person…and didn’t want to rerip my collection into MP3. Thinking of getting a Squeezebox someday….

  • Julie May 26, 2004, 6:50 pm

    Mama’s got a squeeze box she wears on her chest
    And when Daddy comes home, he never gets no rest
    ‘Cause she’s playing all night and the music’s all right…

    Sorry, I couldn’t help myself… 😎

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