The radiant panel association reported electric radiant heat sales grew by 150 percent between 2006 and 2008. In 2006, sales of electric radiant heat topped out at 6.1 million square feet. By 2008, that number grew to more than 9,000,000 square feet.

When installed in pavement or concrete, embedded radiant heat systems can be an alternative to shoveling, plowing, salting or other snow-removal methods. They also can heat homes if installed under floors, providing a very efficient source of heat.

There are two main types of systems: hydronic and electric. Hydronic systems use embedded tubing combined with a boiler and water mixed with antifreeze to heat the ground. Using the same principles but a different source of energy, electric systems use an embedded electric heating cable and operate off a building or house’s existing electrical supply.

David Pieroni, president of EverClear Radiant Systems, attributed the growth to several factors.

“New options for radiant heat … have simplified the product installation and reduced overall cost,” Pieroni said. “Combine this with the rising cost of gasoline, driving up plowing costs, depression of the home market making aging-in-place a more viable option, and the overall increase in awareness of the benefits of radiant systems, the demand for electric radiant options has increased ten-fold.”

“In the home market, we are definitely seeing more and more interest from our customers in radiant heating options,” said Lance Buhrman, owner of the northern Chicago landscaper, Buhrman Design Group. “As people learn that radiant heat is a viable option, people are including it in not only their driveways but also their walks, patios and stoops.”

The sales growth suggests an increased trend. As more people become interested in the technology, there’s a greater chance electrical contractors may encounter such requests. It could prove to be a good source of niche work in the future.