First "Wet Heads," Now "Watt Heads:" Diverse Group RPA Convention
By next year, Marilyn Thurau of Summitteers Radiant Heat Inc., Oakland, CA, wants to see Wet Heads win awards for using electric radiant panels in their installations. That was the challenge Thurau issued from the stage as she accepted the top prizes in residential and commercial electric design and installation at last month’s Radiant Panel Association Conference and Trade Show held in Providence, RI.
With over 1,200 contractors, engineers and trade professionals in attendance, the conference addressed the recruitment, education and marketing problems members face with their radiant businesses. Here are some of the highlights:
Electric Panels: Electric panels took center stage with the standards committee whose focus this year is to establish guidelines for electric radiant similar to those published for hydronics in the 1997 Standard Guidelines for the Design and Installation of Residential Radiant Panel Heating Systems. According to one board member, the goal of the Guidelines is to provide continuing education on all types of radiant systems, which also includes electric.
Marketing Comfort: Bringing the benefits of radiant to the masses is the goal of RPA’s marketing committee, which is currently entertaining the idea of hiring a publicist to promote radiant’s health and cost advantages. Along with targeting consumers, the committee plans to explain radiant’s design opportunities to architects for use in low- to moderate-priced housing.
Education: With educational seminars as the focus, the conference featured four “tracks” — groups of sessions that incorporated a certain interest or knowledge level. These tracks included sales and marketing, design and installation, advanced design and installation and special interest topics such as floor cooling and hydronic ceiling heating.
Taking this training outside the conference domain, PM columnist John Seigenthaler proposed a one-day training class that would cover the nature of radiant heat, the components and installation methods, and design concepts. Currently the class is under development and should begin in August.
Cooling Options: New advances in radiant panel cooling could forever squelch that annoying question, “But what about air conditioning?” David Springer of Davis Energy Group, Davis, CA, discussed the theoretical limits to floor cooling, and the successes he’s had with a variety of chilled water sources. Paul Zeigler of NCSBCS/HBT, Herndon, VA, presented the marketing advantages for radiant contractors who provide integrated heating, cooling, ventilation, dehumidification and humidification systems.
The Industry’s Biggest Problem: Keynote speaker, PM’s editorial director Jim Olsztynski analyzed the industry’s greatest dilemma — how can the industry offer better pay and benefits to its workforce? For his remarks on the critical labor shortage and poor pay, see Jim’s Commentary on page 122.
1997 Radiant Heating Report: For the second year, RPA members showed off their best designs and installations in the 1997 System Showcase. For a look at this year’s winners, check out RHR ’97, the official post-show magazine of the Radiant Panel Association’s Annual Convention featuring the latest happenings in radiant technology. Articles from hydronics guru Dan Holohan and RPA executive director Larry Drake offer insight on the growth of radiant heating and industry trends.