The "Simple" Vision
Complexity is easy
Simplicity is difficult
After a career of more than twenty five years in the hydronics industry that included contracting, manufacturing, and founding and managing the Radiant Panel Association for fifteen years, I have watched the industry struggle to get a foothold in the heating and cooling market to no avail.
There was a time when radiant floor heating appeared to be the key to making inroads. We experienced a rapid growth in the radiant heating industry that created a new enthusiasm within the hydronics world. Looking back, in reality we were primarily trading one segment of the hydronic market for another. The over all hydronics market share continued to dwindle.
Creative marketing and the allure of warm floors did raise public awareness of hydronics, but consumers soon learned that , even though hydronic heat was more comfortable and efficient, it was also considerably more complex and costly. For every sale that was made, thousands went away discouraged.
The industry has proven that it has the capacity to innovate, as demonstrated in the advancement in boiler and control technology. Unfortunately, this innovation is directed toward more complexity resulting in higher costs.
The purpose of Think Hydronics is to challenge the industry to redirect its innovative juices to systems that are both simplier and more affordable.
Increase the market share of hydronic heating and cooling by making systems simpler, affordable and attractive.
Provide a central gathering place for ideas, concepts, theories, opinions, designs, visions and a general brainstorming of ways to bring hydronics into mainstream heating and cooling in North America.
Sponsored by Teal International Corporation
Remaking an Industry
"In Canada the CHC (Canadian Hydronics Council) did an extensive survey a few years back and discovered, much to their dismay, that hydronics held a dismal 6 or 7% market share," says Ted Lowe, executive director of the Radiant Professionals Alliance (formerly the Radiant Panel Association). Hot water and steam heating systems have been steadily losing market share for the last forty years according to a market report posted on the HealthyHeating.com website. Interim 2009 U.S. Census Stats based on the last 4 years of new home construction indicate marketshare of steam or hot water systems at a mere 2%.
Barry LaDuke adds on LinkedIn, "What I'm hearing is a familiar drumbeat from other forums and threads: cost, complexity, lack of unified marketing message, and Dan [Holohan] adds A/C to the equation." The word on the street is that the hydronic niche market is shrinking. The boiler replacement market that was the industry mainstay for many years continues to decline.
New technologies have been introduced, many influenced by or imported from the European market. Much of it is centered around squeezing out the last few percentage of fuel efficiency at the expense of adding complexity and cost. While hydronic systems are getting technically more sophisticated, they are also climbing well beyond the reach of the average consumer.
If the hydronics industry is to survive, it must address these issues. It must innovate. It must change. It must develop products that people want and can afford.
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ThinkHydronics.com is sponsored by Teal International Corporation • Loveland, CO