CHICAGO — One thousand radiant heating enthusiasts attended the Radiant Panel Association’s (RPA’s) annual Radiant Heating Conference and Trade Show held here. Everything from committee meetings to the presentation by Steve Thomas of This Old House was well attended.

More than 200 signed up for the “Radiant Basics” course taught this year by Mark Eatherton, who walked the group through a full day of everything from elementary radiant concepts to sophisticated control strategies. Eatherton brought to the course his perspective as an experienced contractor.

At a reception around the “System Showcase” pavilion, the finalists’ projects for this competition could be viewed on video screens as well as photo books.

Seminars and sessions included a 4-hr program by Ellen Rohr on “Where did the money go?” Rohr guided attendees through the mysteries of small business finance.

Sessions on air elimination, electric basics, boilers, snow melting, and controls were also provided. There were also panel discussions on such subjects as hybrid systems and emerging technologies.

Thomas of This Old House spoke to a packed house. He surprised the group with a look into his past, which includes a combination of woodworking with a passion for the sea.

He was first mate on a 100-ft wooden schooner in Greece, worked as a marine carpenter in Antibes, France, and sailed a 43-ft wooden sloop from England to San Francisco via the Caribbean, Marquesas, and Hawaii. He financed it all by restoring old homes.

Thomas also gave some insight into what goes on behind the scenes at This Old House.

The trade show floor offered 90 exhibitors displaying products covering every facet of radiant heating.

And John Siegenthaler presented a 4-hr preview of the RPA’s “Advanced Controls” course, which is under development.