Room for Two

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The Radiant Professionals Alliance, which was once the Radiant Panel Association, mysteriously left the stage for a while and then came dancing back as a part of the International Association of Plumbing and Mechanical Officials group. Around the same time, Air Conditioning Contractors of America kicked off its Radiant Hydronics Council, the purpose of which is to expose the huge ACCA membership to the joys of hydronic heating and cooling, particularly of the radiant variety.

I sat back and watched as that happened and it made me wonder. The old RPA had withered due to a general lack of interest on the part of its members, or at least it seemed that way to me. What if you throw a convention and nobody comes? The group had never seemed to be able to find a focus and then came the Great Recession. With IAPMO now behind it, the new focus seems to be on coming up with codes and standards for doing jobs hydronically in a way that makes sense nationally (or internationally?). But I wonder if this is realistic or even, considering our political climate, even possible. Each contractor has his or her way of doing things, based on experience and habit. Most will find fault with a hydronic code on principle alone. Not so the equipment manufacturers, of course, and I have a feeling IAPMO will have better luck attracting manufacturers (and their money) into their new RPA than they will in getting contractors to sign up. Meet the new boss, same as the old boss.

ACCA’s group (Disclosure: I am on their advisory board), on the other hand, is totally geared toward contractors and the sharing of their experience. That’s what attracted me to them. They seem to be closer to the way the business really works. ACCA has a strong and growing mainly contractor membership, and they’re in the delightful position of being able to offer something new to that 89 percent of American contractors who focus mainly on the air side of the business. As the economy improves, I think these contractors will look more closely at hydronic heating and cooling as a great addition to their HVAC mix, and that’s why I’m betting that the ACCA group will be more successful than the IAPMO group.

Will there be room for two radiant groups? I guess we’ll find out.

*Dan Holohan has authored numerous books on the topic of hydronic heating systems and operates the wildly successful website His numerous appearances throughout the country have him hosting seminars on topics such as “Dead Men’s Steam School”, “Classic Hydronics”, “Marketing By Example” and “The World of Green Heating”.  He has the style and expertise not soon forgotten and has won over audiences for decades with his ability to teach by example and respect his contractor friends.

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