Problems with Econar GeoThermal Heat pump GW771-1-U000
Last Post 14 Apr 2010 11:30 PM by engineer. 23 Replies.
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Sandra HinchliffeUser is Offline
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16 Nov 2009 03:57 PM
We have been in our house for a year and a half and our Geo Thermal heat pump keeps breaking down.   We have replaced two control  consoles and now the compressor has failed.  I'm wondering if anyone else is having problems?  The model is an Econar <!--[if gte mso 9]> Normal 0 false false false EN-CA X-NONE X-NONE MicrosoftInternetExplorer4 <!-- /* Font Definitions */ @font-face {font-family:"Cambria Math"; panose-1:2 4 5 3 5 4 6 3 2 4; mso-font-charset:0; mso-generic-font-family:roman; mso-font-pitch:variable; mso-font-signature:-1610611985 1107304683 0 0 159 0;} @font-face {font-family:Calibri; panose-1:2 15 5 2 2 2 4 3 2 4; mso-font-charset:0; mso-generic-font-family:swiss; mso-font-pitch:variable; mso-font-signature:-1610611985 1073750139 0 0 159 0;} /* Style Definitions */ p.MsoNormal, li.MsoNormal, div.MsoNormal {mso-style-unhide:no; mso-style-qformat:yes; mso-style-parent:""; margin:0cm; margin-bottom:.0001pt; mso-pagination:widow-orphan; font-size:12.0pt; font-family:"Times New Roman","serif"; mso-fareast-font-family:Calibri; mso-fareast-theme-font:minor-latin;} .MsoChpDefault {mso-style-type:export-only; mso-default-props:yes; font-size:10.0pt; mso-ansi-font-size:10.0pt; mso-bidi-font-size:10.0pt;} @page Section1 {size:612.0pt 792.0pt; margin:72.0pt 72.0pt 72.0pt 72.0pt; mso-header-margin:36.0pt; mso-footer-margin:36.0pt; mso-paper-source:0;} div.Section1 {page:Section1;} --> <!--[if gte mso 10]> GW771-1-U000 Hydronic heat pump.  
Sandra


joe.amiUser is Offline
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19 Nov 2009 10:35 PM
Your question is so broad it is difficult to answer. Our experience is that most of the problems we see are created by the installation, not the technology or the brand.
Our first questions would be:
Who installed the system?
Did you check their references?
What is their explanation for your woes?
Good luck,
Joe


Joe Hardin www.amicontracting.com We Dig Comfort! www.doityourselfgeothermal.com Dig Your Own Comfort!
cnygeoUser is Offline
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19 Nov 2009 11:28 PM
I've got the same unit and have 2 seasons on it with no problems to speak of. The compressor discharge temperatures in heating mode do seem high to me (220F+) when it is approaching the hydronic side temp limits but I use a reset control so it doesn't spend much time there. Where are you located (heating or cooling dominated)? Did it fail when heating or cooling? Are flow rates and temps for ground and hydronic loops in spec? What was Econar's response? Was the control console the board inside the heat pump unit, or something external? The controller is pretty simple on these, I can't imagine what would fry 2 of them unless you get power surges or something.


eaglegogreenUser is Offline
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07 Dec 2009 03:31 AM
We are also having problems with our GW771-1-U000 and it has been in service for about 23 months.

Smart Solutions in Lewiston, Idaho installed this system. They recommend that a more local HVAC heat pump technician come take a look. Just over the phone they think the scale from the water might be reducing the efficiency of the heat pump. The local guy should be coming soon to take a look and get more details on operating pressures and temps. What I have noticed is the max heat pump output temperature before high presure lockout has steadly dropped from 115 F to now below 107F.
Is there anything that anyone else that has had problems with this model and why?


eaglegogreenUser is Offline
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07 Dec 2009 03:35 AM
We are also having problems with our GW771-1-U000 and it has been in service for about 23 months. What I have noticed is the max heat pump output temperature before high presure lockout has steadly dropped from 115 F to now below 107F. Is there anything that anyone else that has had problems with this model and why? Now we are at the point where the heat pump won't even turn on.


geotekUser is Offline
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07 Dec 2009 07:17 AM
Posted By cnygeo on 11/19/2009 11:28 PM
I've got the same unit and have 2 seasons on it with no problems to speak of. The compressor discharge temperatures in heating mode do seem high to me (220F+) when it is approaching the hydronic side temp limits but I use a reset control so it doesn't spend much time there. 

220F+ will shorten the life of that compressor. What are your temp settings?


cnygeoUser is Offline
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07 Dec 2009 08:13 AM
Posted By geotek on 12/07/2009 7:17 AM
Posted By cnygeo on 11/19/2009 11:28 PM
I've got the same unit and have 2 seasons on it with no problems to speak of. The compressor discharge temperatures in heating mode do seem high to me (220F+) when it is approaching the hydronic side temp limits but I use a reset control so it doesn't spend much time there.  [/quote]
220F+ will shorten the life of that compressor. What are your temp settings?
It hits 220F at about 115F LWT, when the loop is at it's coldest (~30-32F). At 120F LWT, it reaches 220F discharge even when the loop is 35-40F. As I said I'm running reset control so it only runs at these temps on the coldest days. I'd say on average I'm running somewhere between 100 and 110 for most of the winter. I'm attaching a plot of discharge vs. loop temp, with 115F and 120F LWT. The data is from last year but it hasn't changed much. Ground loop and hydronic flow are both within spec. The manual lists 115F as the max recommended design temp with 120 as an absolute max. Ground loop spec is 25deg min, so I'm well above that, even in Feb when the loop is coldest.

The compressor is kind of an oddball in the ZP series - Copeland lists it as a  "pool heater" application, and the operating temp limit is lower than other ZP compressors of slightly different sizes. Mine's been fine so far, so I guess I'll keep my fingers crossed and hope for the best...

What would you consider to be a reasonable discharge temp?

Attachment: dischargetemp022708.jpg

Sandra HinchliffeUser is Offline
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07 Dec 2009 12:27 PM
My unit has been sent back to the factory for repair. See below for the pasted offer from Econar[ its funny that they call it an "offer", since its under warranty and the minimum they must do is fix it!]. Anyway, my contractor is very reputable and qualified, he is covering the shipping costs for me and feels the flows and pressure on the hydronic and field ends are correct. I feel that the company should have shipped a new unit right away instead of fooling around with the old one. If they can't tell a qualified technician how to fix it on site , and they have tried, then what is going to happen at the factory? The old unit had to be shipped from our home in Northern British Columbia, Canada to Minnesota..., it could take months..... It is minus 20 degrees Celcius and we are operating on our backup heat once again. It has been almost a month so we will see how long they take with this...... I appreciate the feedback, even though I don't understand the technical end of it, as it may help find a solution.
Thanks, Sandra

Reference GW771-1-U000, SN#JQ070217434.
ECONAR is prepared to offer the repair, including parts and labour, of this unit providing it is returned to the ECONAR factory prepaid freight. All repairs and upgrades if needed will be done and the unit will be tested in our facility prior to its return freight collect. In addition ECONAR will supply a hard start kit at no charge. ECONAR will not be responsible for the labour to remove or reinstall.

For the GW771-1-U000 we will require the completion of a system evaluation form for our examination after the re-installation Digital pictures of the current install should be forwarded to us prior to the removal and the re-installation. From the information we receive we will examine the current installation parameters and if necessary offer suggestions of needed improvements. After the unit is reinstalled the system evaluation information will be needed.


CallieUser is Offline
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08 Apr 2010 01:16 PM
We installed an Econar heat pump in our new home over five years ago.  It quit 6 times alone in the first winter, they replaced the control board finally.  Then, running it in the summer for AC, it didn't work right either.  Long story short, it wasn't functioning right, Econar wouldn't send out a technician to see what was wrong, local shop didn't know what to do, and so the humidity went higher and higher in our home only when the AC was on.  We had service call after service call to try and resolve the humidity problem.  It was like walking through a cold wet blanket in the basement at times.  Econar finally acknowledged there was a problem after two summers of this, sent out a tech and said it was a defective heat pump.  We got a letter from them stating that it was malfunctioning unit and offered to replace it...but wouldn't take care of all the damage from mold in our home from the humidity.  Everyone felt very sick from the air coming up through the ductwork.  We had to move out for two months, take out the ceilings on two floors, replace all the ductwork (it was mostly flex so had to be replaced with metal), and paid for another unit from our own pockets.  We refused to sign the paperwork absolving them from any responsibility for fixing our home, and now they won't even refund any of our money for the actual unit. 

It's been a nightmare that cost us about $50,000 out of our own pockets.  Our health suffered, and it cost us a lot of time, stress, and money.   Very difficult company to deal with!  We were told by them they don't have any problems with their heat pumps so this was interesting to read on this forum since they said there was only one other heat pump they have ever had a problem with.  The place we bought it at is an electrical coop.  They won't help us either.  We had to refinance our home to pay for it.  We have now installed a propane unit and conventional A/C.  Yes, it costs us more but we are so relieved to get rid of all of the problems that were caused by the Econar system.


joe.amiUser is Offline
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09 Apr 2010 09:44 AM
So who designed your Econar system/installation?
Joe


Joe Hardin www.amicontracting.com We Dig Comfort! www.doityourselfgeothermal.com Dig Your Own Comfort!
cnygeoUser is Offline
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09 Apr 2010 10:43 AM
Sorry to hear of your trouble - did they say what failed on the heat pump? What model heat pump did you have? As I said above I have a GW771 and it's been running OK for 3 seasons now despite high (240F) compressor discharge temps and slightly lower than advertised COP.

This may not have any relevance to your situation, but when I went to their website to look up some specs the other day I noticed that they have completely re-designed their "Ultra" hydronic line. The key change is that most of the heat exchangers have been upsized and minimum flow specs have increased. They also sent me a retrofit kit with a discharge thermostat to protect the compressor shortly after I installed my unit (it only had high and low pressure protection originally).

The combination of my experience with high discharge temps, the thermostat retrofit, and now the increased heat exchanger sizes leads me to believe that some of these units might have been running on the edge of safe compressor operation and the redesign gives a larger margin of safety.

I think I remember seeing that Econar was bought by research products in the last year or so - maybe you would have better luck with new ownership?


joe.amiUser is Offline
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09 Apr 2010 11:35 AM
Correct, research products has owned Econar ~2 years.
I'm curious as to how heat pump malfunction causes high humidity. Seems more like a design situ. It also sounds like an over the counter heat pump purchase.
The $50,000 nightmare sounds more emotion than reason which is not to belittle Callie's experience, but we need more substance to add thoughts of value.
j


Joe Hardin www.amicontracting.com We Dig Comfort! www.doityourselfgeothermal.com Dig Your Own Comfort!
Sandra HinchliffeUser is Offline
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09 Apr 2010 07:55 PM
I ended up getting a new unit and now things seem to be working great.  But I want to let you know  that it was no thanks to Econar.  They wanted us to send the unit clear acrross the continent to be repaired, which would have taken many months on our backup system.    Thank goodness I had a great contractor, between him and the distributor they supplied a new replacement unit, and the two of them will deal with my first lemon unit when it comes back to them.    Econar should have bucked up and replaced my unit right away.  It's obvoius from the upgrades and changes that people are talking about that they knew and know that there were problems.   I feel bad that the contractor and the distributor had to make up for the poor response from Econar, if I didnt have them I'm sure I would still have major issues.
Sandra


HHHUser is Offline
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10 Apr 2010 12:40 PM
I have installed two Econar units out of ~75.  The first one ran fine for a while, but the control board failed.  Look inside the unit behind the control board.  It may have to be pulled out.  Do you see a tiny hole?  Plug it up!  I have mentioned this to Econar's warranty dept, but they didn't listen!  The second one: we plugged the hole behind the control board, and it ran fine for 6 months or so.  Bad compressor!  They shipped it to me free, but I paid for the shipping!  If I remember right, it was $200 for the shipping!  I won't use Econar again. 


CallieUser is Offline
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10 Apr 2010 03:02 PM
Thanks for your feedback.

Veteran Member - We do wish the $50,000 was just emotional rambling. It isn't. We have the paid bills to prove it. Long story and obviously it was more than just replacing the Econar unit. We had the Econar GeoSource Vara 2 Plus. Model GV581-1-V020. Bottom line is this - we literally begged Econar to send out an expert. When they finally did, it confirmed what we already knew - the unit would not go down into the slower speed to take out humidity in the air as it was being pulled across the coils. It dropped the temperature rapidly, but didn't take out the humidity in the air. Warm air holds more moisture. Cold air doesn't. In cooling , if you cool the air quickly, you have short run time...and that leads to high humidity.

We were into our third year of trouble before they finally did that and then sent us a letter acknowledging that the unit was faulty and offering to replace it. By that time, additional damage had occurred in the home due to all of the humidity problems so we would not sign off on them not being responsible for any collatoral damage. Horrible situation. So, now we have put in a different system and we're stuck with that original defictive unit and still paying for it. We have been extremely disappointed in Econar's response.

cnygeo - you are correct. Econar was purchased in Dec. 2008. MADISON, Wis. — Aprilaire manufacturer, Research Products Corp., has acquired Econar Energy Systems Corp. based in Elk River, Minn. Econar is a geothermal heat pump technology provider for residential and business customers.

According to the company, the acquisition is a significant step for Research Products to provide environmentally friendly products for a growing Earth-conscious market. The new entity will be Econar GeoSystems LLC. “There is tremendous growth opportunity for our dealers to provide energy-friendly solutions to the home or business owner,” said Larry Olsen, president of Research Products Corp., explaining one of the main motivations for bringing these two companies together. “Adding Econar to the Research Products family moves our company in the right direction to satisfy the growing customer base concerned about the future of our planet.”



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10 Apr 2010 03:11 PM
The Econar units were the combo units.  Unit no. 1: I forget to say we diagnosed a bad control board, but then waited until it came in to replace it. When I pulled the bad control board out, I noticed that it was dirty in the spot where there was a hole behind the unit.  It worked, once I cleaned the dirt off!  I sent the new control board back Econar, and they were were going to charge me a restocking fee!  I complained, so they did not charge me.



joe.amiUser is Offline
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11 Apr 2010 12:02 PM
Callie,
Not trying to pick a fight with you, just trying to understand. I'll ask again, who designed and installed your system?
Lots of heat pumps were single stage 1 speed, back in the day without mold problems. System design and ventilation is very important in modern homes. If all else is designed correctly, a heat pump (even a broken one) will not create mold unless grossly oversized by inexperienced designer.
Joe


Joe Hardin www.amicontracting.com We Dig Comfort! www.doityourselfgeothermal.com Dig Your Own Comfort!
CallieUser is Offline
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13 Apr 2010 03:40 PM
Veteran Member,

A local heating/cooling shop designed and installed the system along with the electrical cooperative that sold it to us. When Econar sent someone out initially (not a technician), they did look over the ductwork, etc. and tried to blame it on that. However, after installing the ductwork they told us to, it changed nothing. The ductwork was not the problem.

Econar already admitted that the problem was the heat pump, not the ductwork. It was a defective unit. Again, it would not cycle down to operate in the first stage for cooling. Systems in this area are sized for heating due to the cold climate. Hence, the two stage unit was installed. It was documented by their technician that the unit was not shifting into the lower stage during cooling and that caused the problems. He is the one that talked to us about mold in the system, ceilings, etc.



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13 Apr 2010 09:32 PM
Lots of follow up questions come to mind, but I don't want to dispute your assertions about your situation as too little data is available to me. I will say this and you may take it for what it is worth.
I install systems in a heating dominated climate and only in the last 4 or 5 years have the 2 stage systems really come in vogue. Never in decades of contracting and municipal inspections have I seen a malfunctioning or mis sized air conditioner cause mold.
Admiting a system would not operate in first stage and taking responsibility for mold are two different things.
That is not the same as saying it couldn't happen, but I would expect mitigating circumstances. I'm also curious why designing/installing contractor did not intervene during the couple of years it took for your problems to unfold.
Obviously there is much to the story we aren't privy to, so with that, I will wish you well and leave you be.
Good Luck,
Joe


Joe Hardin www.amicontracting.com We Dig Comfort! www.doityourselfgeothermal.com Dig Your Own Comfort!
jonrUser is Offline
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13 Apr 2010 10:35 PM
For anyone, if your AC system isn't keeping humidity under control due to conditions, short cycling, high air flow rate, whatever - get a dehumidifier instead of letting it go.



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