SALAMANCA — A Salamanca-based company has recently expanded sales outside the United States and Canada with its product now selling in Europe.
Seneca Radiant Technology, owned by Holly John, is a manufacturer of radiant heat panels made with recycled tires for installation in homes and businesses. The company recently opened Seneca Radiant UK in England.
“This has been a fun ride,” said Gary Hydock, inventor for Seneca Radiant. He said their office in the United Kingdom is in a “sweet spot” because about 90 percent of the 22 million people on the island use radiant heating.
On continental Europe, about 25 countries primarily use radiant heating, Hydock said, compared to only between 3 and 5 percent of buildings in North America.
But on a trip to Canada years ago, Hydock said he first came across in-floor heating. He said he was interested because he could feel the heat but not hear it like with hot water baseboard and forced air systems.
“I experienced it once and wondered why is it so discernibly different in this building environment,” he said. “Why do I feel warm but don’t know where the warm is coming from?”
After some research, Hydock said he found out Frank Lloyd Wright was one of the first people to bring radiant heating to North America in the early 20th century. He said forms of it had been used in Europe and Asia as far back as Ancient Rome with hot water heating stones.
“I don’t know if the United States and Canada will totally evolve to radiant heating,” he said. “I’ve installed it in well over 150 houses.”
Buffalo, some of its suburbs and Ellicottville are among the communities Hydock said he has installed in, both in century-old houses and new constructions.
“Why doesn’t everybody do this?” he offered. “If you’re saving that much energy, it makes your comfort level and indoor air quality so immensely improved and your energy bills are so much less, why wouldn’t you incorporate this into your building?”
Seneca Radiant Technology produces radiant panels constructed from 100 percent recycled tire rubber crumb, according to the company’s website. It’s designed to be installed over existing concrete slab with individual panels ¾ inches thick and weighing less than four pounds each.
“An average installation of our radiant heat product utilizes 400 tires,” Hydock said. “That’s unheard of.”
Hydock said he initially become interested in tires while attending a green conference several years ago. After learning how many mounds of used tires there around North America, he said he wanted to find a use for them.
“Tires are a big problem,” he said. “So I’m going to see if I can make something out of scrap tires.”
With burning tires now illegal in many places due to the environmental and health risks, Hydock said Seneca Radiant utilizes thousands of tires in their products. After a conversation with officials from the Canadian government, Seneca Radiant was paid $70 per ton of crumb rubber to develop their product in Ontario, he said.
The product was tested in Pennsylvania and Georgia, Hydock said, receiving clean reports from both. “We knew what our formulas were for these tires. We knew what materials were conducive to make it safe and healthy and user friendly,” he said.
Although manufacturing is out of Canada and England, Hydock said moving equipment to headquarters in Salamanca could easily be done. He said the machines were made to be able to fit on a trailer and relocated in a couple days.
“To plop a machine in Salamanca could absolutely happen as soon as volume reaches a certain critical point,” he said.
Hydock’s radiant panel system earned five stars by NYSERDA in 2006 when rated at a Grand Island home where the panels were installed.
Additional information about Seneca Radiant can be obtained by calling (855) 945-2215 or visiting senecaradiant.com.
(Contact reporter Kellen Quigley at firstname.lastname@example.org.)