Radiant Heat Might Just Be the HVAC Industry’s Best Kept Secret
Business and application tips for current and future trends
Contractors looking for more high-end heat solutions need look no further than directly underneath their feet.
There, they can find a vast opportunity in selling radiant heat, which is growing in popularity as it gains further recognition by consumers and contractors alike for its unique qualities.
“The hardest thing about selling radiant is that most people don’t know it’s an option,” said Kolyn Marshall, systems engineering manager, Watts Radiant. “Even with all of the shows, magazine articles, and websites, it’s still one of the industry’s biggest secrets.”
Marshall noted that he has seen an increase in demand for radiant projects over the last few years, despite it being a lesser-known option.
Unfortunately, that uptick in consumer interest has highlighted the lack of educated contractors in this sector. Therefore, contractors are limited on the number of radiant jobs they can bid on and complete, since the on-the-job learning process for their technicians makes these projects more time consuming and, as a result, less profitable.
“This directly impacts their [contractors’] revenue potential,” explained Marshall. “What we are seeing gain popularity are systems that provide fast, worry-free installations, allowing installers to move from one project to the next with confidence.”
Watts Radiant suggests that contractors have someone on staff become a radiant expert, so they can comfortably present it as an option to customers.
With more than hydronic options available, Marshall noted that contractors shouldn’t forget the several electric options available as well.
“Be creative — radiant isn’t just a winter solution,” he said. “It also doesn’t have to be an either-or solution. Installers don’t have to select between electric or radiant. Look at hydronics to do the entire home, but then add electric to the master bathroom to cut the chill of cold tile in the summer or shoulder months.”
Randall Quon, communications coordinator, HeatLink Group Inc., said that radiant heat can be sold to consumers for its ability to provide consistent, controlled temperatures.
“The heat is generated where the customer wants it, and there are no drafts or hot and cold spots,” he said. “The heat produced by a radiant system stays in the living space or work area. With a forced air system, the heat rises to the ceilings and stays there until it cools.”
For consumers who feel all systems are equal, other selling points include the ability to place furniture where desired without concerns for radiators, heat vents, or grills.
Additionally, the lack of ductwork and air movement can cut down on airborne dust and other particles that lead to allergies and other IAQ-related health issues.
As for contractor benefits, radiant heat systems are both energy efficient and capable of being zoned.
“Controls is one area for upselling,” said Quon. “Wired controls can be replaced with wireless and app-enabled smart controls.”
“Smart,” “connected,” and “IoT” are terms that will drive radiant product development over the next several years, according to Marshall.
“For example, there is a snowmelt control that connects to third party weather data via Wi-Fi to provide pre-emptive startup,” said Marshall. “This allows the snowmelt system to perform faster and more effectively than ever before.”
RADIANT APPLICATION TIPS
And speaking of snowmelt systems … they can be a great add-on for contractors looking to expand their businesses, according to Marshall, and there are multiple ways to optimize them.
“If the home has a pool boiler, consider using this as the snowmelt heat source,” he said. “Doing so will maximize the mechanical room solution.”
Marshall also mentioned that contractors who include electric radiant in their business mix open themselves up to the opportunities of small remodeling projects, which have become increasingly popular in the current market.
“Homeowners look to update bathrooms and kitchens before selling or right after buying homes,” he said. “These updates are no longer limited to new appliances and floor cove rings. Warm floors has become a leading requested feature in these remodels.”
And that holds true for large homes all the way down to “tiny houses,” according to Marshall.
“Comfort doesn’t have a boundary and neither does radiant heating,” he added. “The only thing that limits a radiant system is our imagination. Never stop asking, ‘What can be made more comfortable?’”
Publication date: 11/19/2018