What to ask before you buy geothermal - Shoppers Checklist
Last Post 26 Sep 2014 02:49 PM by greg mulder. 112 Replies.
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gwizUser is Offline
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08 Dec 2009 09:42 AM
Joe I think you covered all the important things.  One thing I didn't see (sorry I read most but not all the posts) is after the sale service and past warranty service if the warranty is short.  In other words what is included what is not and how much will I expect to pay in the next 5 - 10 to keep it running service wise.  I plan on keeping my geo for a long time and it may need some help somewhere down the line.  I like to have an idea of cost before hand so it is not a surprise later.

Thanks.

(Over two months without gas. Well the heating kind anyway.)
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15 Dec 2009 09:39 PM
I agree contractor integrity trumps all, but *expierience* and knowledge should be up there too. The fundaments are the same but nothing past that. Other question for list- How will you size loop to meet load and soil conditions?
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24 Jan 2010 03:36 PM
The one thing that is overlooked in this discussion is: Hire a mechanical engineer. He will be the one that truly understands pressure drop and why, he understands refrigerants and their cycles, he understands HVAC and why.

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24 Jan 2010 09:21 PM
Um, no, actually that wasn't overlooked. It doesn't take an engineer to properly design and install a residential or light commercial HVAC system, geo or otherwise. Any HVAC contractor and technician able to fog a mirror fully understands the subjects you listed.

If every residential HVAC system needed the tender mercies of an engineer to deploy, there would be millions of families hunkered down every night in sleeping bags around a fireplace.

I am a degreed and licensed engineer as well as a HVAC contractor. Your remarks, coupled with your newness here, disrespect the veteran contractors that form the backbone of this site and give rise to skepticism regarding your integrity and the unproven Kelix system you espouse.

Welcome aboard, but consider treading more lightly for now.

Curt Kinder

The truth is incontrovertible. Malice may attack it, ignorance may deride it, but in the end, there it is - Winston Churchill

www.greenersolutionsair.com
joe.amiUser is Offline
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25 Jan 2010 07:55 AM
Fortunately for those of us among the great unwashed, things like creation of manual J load and design of heat pumps included the help of engineers so that a dolt like me can follow the rules and install it trouble free. LOL.
I "understand HVAC and why". I've been making people comfortable for 20 years and curiously noone has asked me about the properties of R410 or to explain thermal dynamics. Is that a big sales tool in your field experience?
Sorry your idea isn't on the list, Coasttal, because it wouldn't be among the top ten most important things. It's not a detractor if a company offers it (kind of like a free 3 day, 2 night stay at a bed and breakfeast), but important? No. Not if the answers to the listed things are satisfactory.
j
Joe Hardin www.amicontracting.com We Dig Comfort! www.doityourselfgeothermal.com Dig Your Own Comfort!
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27 Jan 2010 09:26 PM
Thanks for this info. I'm building a new home 1700 sq ft upstairs with unfinished basement in SD. I've received three quotes, but only one had a breakdown of Winter Loss and Summer Gain (is this is what you're referring to as Manual J loan?) After looking at the blueprints of the home,etc he came back with a total structural heat loss in winter of 48,947 and gain in summer of 21,649. He recommended a Geocomfort Geothermal 3 ton single stage or 4 ton 2-stage with four closed loops either horizontal (we have plenty of land)or vertical. Another installer was pushing a 3.5 Ton HydroHeat MEGATEK- 2 stage. With thos heat loss and gain numbers: Do these systems sound adequate/overkill? Do you know anything about whether either of the brands are better? Both installers have plenty of experience (according to them)..I'd appreciate any advice you all may have or if I'm missing something. It's very difficult to compare quotes, because all four that I've received are broken down differently.
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27 Jan 2010 11:20 PM
I would avoid the Hydroheat

2 stage systems deal better with the big difference between heating and cooling loads, particularly if humidity is a problem in summer.

A good contractor will have reports showing how his / her selected unit will meet the load and the costs during an average winter.

Go with whoever has the best references in the area.
Curt Kinder

The truth is incontrovertible. Malice may attack it, ignorance may deride it, but in the end, there it is - Winston Churchill

www.greenersolutionsair.com
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28 Jan 2010 10:58 AM
Thanks for this info. I'd appreciate anyone's opinion on the following: I'm building a new home 1700 sq ft upstairs with unfinished basement in SD. I've received three quotes, but only one had a breakdown of Winter Loss and Summer Gain (is this is what you're referring to as Manual J loan?) After looking at the blueprints of the home,etc he came back with a total structural heat loss in winter of 48,947 and gain in summer of 21,649. (Temp: Winter inside 75- outside -25) (Summer- inside 70 outside 100) He recommended a Geocomfort Geothermal 3 ton single stage or 4 ton 2-stage with four closed loops either horizontal (we have plenty of land)or vertical. Another installer was pushing a 3.5 Ton HydroHeat MEGATEK- 2 stage. With thos heat loss and gain numbers: Do these systems sound adequate/overkill? Do you know anything about whether either of the brands are better? Both installers have plenty of experience (according to them)..I'd appreciate any advice you all may have or if I'm missing something. It's very difficult to compare quotes, because all four that I've received are broken down differently.
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04 Feb 2010 09:40 AM
Near the top of my list would be "ROI/payback" and exactly how it is calculated. Paying an extra $20K to save $500/year wouldn't work for me, even if I intended to stay in the house forever.

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04 Feb 2010 09:58 AM
Posted By jonr on 02/04/2010 9:40 AM
Near the top of my list would be "ROI/payback" and exactly how it is calculated. Paying an extra $20K to save $500/year wouldn't work for me, even if I intended to stay in the house forever.



I agree that this is important and include it as a major part of my sales presentation. But a "good ROI" is rather subjective and has more to do with the motivation to purchase geo than assuring a good quality install. I also percieve it as self evident where other points on the list are not.
My desire to stick to a list of ten (albeit arbitrary) means more than one good suggestion will not make the cut.
j
Joe Hardin www.amicontracting.com We Dig Comfort! www.doityourselfgeothermal.com Dig Your Own Comfort!
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04 Feb 2010 10:27 AM
Joe: May I quibble with your #1 point? In every field, experience is, at first blush, a desirable quality. However, years in a field might only mean years of perpetuating the same mistakes, holding forth with the same ignorant opinions, etc. Sometimes, the newbie may think clearer, has fresher ideas, takes more care, etc. Thus, may I posit that, for example, your #2 re: doing a Manual J analysis, should be obligatory. But #1? Maybe not. Heywood
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04 Feb 2010 10:50 AM
Unfortunately, mistakes can be made with everything. In one of our quotes, an installer butchered our Manual J. As homeowners, we can only check references, experience, training, etc. In my opinion, it is still a bit of a leap of faith to select a particular installer even after this careful screening process. But, odds are improved that the end results will be better after going through this screening process.  This doesn't just apply to geothermal.
Homeowner with WF Envision NDV038 (packaged) & NDZ026 (split), one 3000' 4 pipe closed horizontal ground loop, Prestige thermostats, desuperheaters, 85 gal. Marathon.
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04 Feb 2010 01:33 PM
Heywood,
As with any guide the goal is to give you the most universal shot at success. I think most would agree that longevity bears an indication of commitment to customer satisfaction.

Newbies with new ideas offer little to gauge them by.
There are of course exceptions to any rule.


As far as someone doing it wrong for years, multiple quotes are your best defense against poor design.
J
Joe Hardin www.amicontracting.com We Dig Comfort! www.doityourselfgeothermal.com Dig Your Own Comfort!
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04 Feb 2010 02:21 PM
No sensible person could disagree with your comments. My narrow point was perhaps more philosophic than geothermal. In a closing rebuttal, may I offer up the lesson of Bernard Madoff. He certainly had years of "customer satisfaction". Notwithstanding, I think your checklist has merit.
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04 Feb 2010 04:36 PM
Well said and understood. Lol. There was much debate here and elsewhere about years in business vs yrs in geo etc. and the merits of each.

We did agree that a longtime heating pro new to geo could be just as good. Curiously no one suggested that some one brand new to both might be the safest choice ;).

Kidding aside a notable distinction between my work and a con or ponzi scheme is that I would be unmasked in one cold day. I don't disagree with you to be contrary I truly believe it to be a valid screening tool and I feel one old guy's bad habits (usually modest over sizing) harm the buyer once (a couple thou on purchase price max). Rookie mistakes can cost a buyer 2 or 3 times that + aggravation.
J
Joe Hardin www.amicontracting.com We Dig Comfort! www.doityourselfgeothermal.com Dig Your Own Comfort!
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04 Feb 2010 09:49 PM
You - OVERSIZE a system?

Say it ain't so, Joe!

(I just couldn't resist...)
Curt Kinder

The truth is incontrovertible. Malice may attack it, ignorance may deride it, but in the end, there it is - Winston Churchill

www.greenersolutionsair.com
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05 Feb 2010 07:19 AM
I didn't say I was the old guy! :)
Joe Hardin www.amicontracting.com We Dig Comfort! www.doityourselfgeothermal.com Dig Your Own Comfort!
Paul AuerbachUser is Offline
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26 Mar 2010 06:24 PM
Joe, I agree a manual J is a must for the project. But it should be produced AFTER the contract is signed. Some clients are looking for a heat load and have you spin wheels with no intent of giving you the business - because they're planning to do it themselves...while they're excavating they figure to drop in a few slinky loops and voila' - instant geothermal...

Paul
Total Green Geo
www.TotalGreenUS.com
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28 Mar 2010 07:57 AM
I have no objection to loading a house before a contract is signed, but I won't do it for free.
Curt Kinder

The truth is incontrovertible. Malice may attack it, ignorance may deride it, but in the end, there it is - Winston Churchill

www.greenersolutionsair.com
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28 Mar 2010 09:13 AM
Posted By joe.ami on 26 Nov 2009 11:31 AM

2) Manual J load*, summer and winter design temps


*Someone who does not care to give you exact btu's (IOW a free load calculation) but measures the house and provides most of the other info. Should not be automatically disqualified, but should have this available to you at signing.

 

Joe



That's why the footnote.
It's important for someone shopping to know what a manual J is. It is also important that a seller takes the time to do the calculations to support a design.
It is not a suggestion that anyone work for free. Personally I gauge each customer individually keeping my cards closer to my vest on the "somethin' for nothin' types.
j
Joe Hardin www.amicontracting.com We Dig Comfort! www.doityourselfgeothermal.com Dig Your Own Comfort!
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