LOVELAND, COLO. — Earlier this summer, the Radiant Panel Association reported that annual sales of hydronic radiant tubing had surged 37.4%, according to a survey of tubing manufacturers (June, pg. 1). While the robust housing and remodeling market could explain the hot hydronic tubing sales, the results of the survey of electric radiant manufacturers were surprising.
Surveyed were 10 electric radiant system manufacturers with six reporting their sales statistics. Of the total, 60% was collected from actual reports for 2004 while 40% was estimated, some based on reports from previous years.
Better supplier participation in the electric segment of the survey provided more accurate data for that market, reporting sales at a whopping 214% above last year's estimates.
Participants in previous years had indicated that they felt the numbers were historically understated. The reported numbers for 2004 seem to bear that out and reveal that the electric market is much larger than had been reported.
The electric radiant market is a tougher market on which to get good numbers, RPA Executive Director Lawrence Drake said. A few years ago, the small number of players in the electric market kept their sales closely guarded. Now there are many more suppliers, and while some remain tied to RPA, others don't want anything to do with the heating and hydronic market. They see themselves in the floor warming market, not floor heating
" The majority of those sales go directly to the building contractor or electrician," Drake said.
Much of the product is sold directly to consumers through The Home Depot or Lowe's, he said, and some electric manufacturers are distributing through tile and flooring contractors.
Drake believes heating contractors should use both, a combination of hydronic radiant and/or hydro-air for the whole house, along with electric floor warming in bathrooms.