Thirty heating professionals take first-ever “RPA Certified” exam.

A new certification program, a radiant floor-covering publication and two additional radiant installation manuals were a few highlights announced at the Radiant Panel Association’s Annual Conference and REX, held May 8-11 in Cincinnati.

“This is an important step in the growth of the radiant industry,” said Lawrence Drake, RPA executive director. “The RPA Certification program represents an industry-wide effort to raise the standards of professionalism and ensure that radiant customers are satisfied with their systems.”

More than 30 heating professionals took the inaugural certification exam, dubbed “RPA Certified.” This represents the first phase of the new program, designed to test installers and designers of radiant systems. Future categories are slated to be added for electric professionals.

“Most said that it was a challenging, but fair test and did a good job of accessing the knowledge of an individual,” Drake says. “More than one individual commented that it was not the kind of exam a person could walk in cold and pass without doing some studying beforehand.”

There was an approximately 70 percent pass rate out of those who took the exam.

Once certified, the RPA provides the certified professional with an identifying patch and truck decal, recognition on the RPA Web site member directory as an “RPA Certified” professional, and priority lead referrals. The trade group is also developing literature that explains why a consumer should choose an “RPA Certified” professional and will be launching an advertising campaign to promote the certification program.

Questions for the exam are compiled from the RPA Standard Guidelines, Radiant Basics manual and actual field experience. A candidate for certification must also submit documentation of prior training before taking the exam. Prior training may be the completion of a course approved by the RPA, such as a manufacturer’s training program or documented on-the-job training.

Testing locations will spread across the country. Any area where there are five or more requests to take the exam, RPA will arrange for a facility and proctor to administer the exam.

For more information on the program, contact the association at 800/660-7187 or visit

In other news, the association is putting the finishing touches on a new RPA Flooring Guide, a new publication geared to help general contractors and flooring installers better understand radiant heat.

“We thought a lot of radiant jobs were lost due to concerns about flooring,” said Hoyt Corbett, president of the Hydronic Publishing Co., during the RPA’s Member Meeting, May 12.

About 50,000 copies of the guide will be published this month. The RPA plans on conducting a direct mail campaign to “radiant” zip codes to educate other building professionals on the benefits of radiant floor heat. As an FYI, all RPA contractor members will also receive a copy.

“Floor-covering installers are our partners,” Corbett said. “The floor covering is a part of the radiant system.”

The RPA also upgraded its popular Radiant Basics book and introduced a Radiant Precision book:

  • Radiant Basics: Hydronic and Electric Radiant Panel Heating Components, Installation, Specifying and Sequencing, includes new material on system design and integration of cooling and ventilation. It covers both the “classic” installation methods as well as newer approaches such as radiant ready subfloors. In addition to technical information for heating professionals, new material is included to assist builders and architects in specifying quality radiant panel installations.

  • Radiant Precision: Advanced Design and Control of Hydronic Radiant Panel Heating Systems, was written specifically for the RPA by PM columnist John Siegenthaler. The publication picks up where Radiant Basics leaves off. The book includes coverage of modern control technology used with hydronic radiant panel systems. All major types of mixing systems are compared. Detailed design information is presented for properly selecting and sizing control components. Advanced piping techniques suitable for multiload/multitemperature systems are discussed. New information is presented on the use of buffer tanks, systems balancing, differential pressure bypass valves, wide tube spacing applications and minitube injection.

Both publications are available through the RPA office at, or by telephone at 800/660-7187. Special reduced pricing is available to RPA members.

As for the show, more than 1,100 attended the RPA’s Annual Conference and REX (Radiant Expo). The Expo featured 106 exhibitors, including more than 20 companies exhibiting for the first time.

“The insulation industry seems to have discovered REX,” Drake said. “And there was also an increase in support equipment from wood-fired boilers to a wide variety of fittings, valves and tools.”

The 2003 REX and RPA Conference will be held at the Sacramento Convention Center, May 7-10, Sacramento, Calif.