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Anyone out there who uses or is an expert in geothermal? I am considering this option for our home. Opinions regarding vertical vs horizontal? Anyone know anyone in the KY/TENN area who installs them? I live in south central KY.

thanks!
 

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agmantoo
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I have a water source geothermal heat pump and have had it for going on 14 years. I am thoroughly satisfied with it and when this one dies I will replace it with another but will use a ground loop. The unit cools without any effort and the heat it generates is hotter than that from a conventional air to air heatpump. In actuality, the geothermal heatpump performs as if each day is 56 degrees since that is the temperature of the delivered water from which heat or cool is extracted. My utility bill is about 1/2 that of others in the area with similiar sized homes and occupants. My unit is in the basement as there is no need for an outside condenser. Therefore the cabinet and the internals are not exposed to the elements and that alone increases the life of the device. This unit does not have the heat scavange for the domestic hot water but I would also opt for that in the next one. In 1990 I paid $3000 for the complete system including all duct work. It has paid for itself many times over in saved utility fees. Forgot to mention, since the unit functions equally efficient regardless of the outdoor temperature their is no requirement for strip heat. If you do not feel the need for a backup heat source you can avoid the expense of the strip heat. I have a set of gas logs that is used as my backup and will work if the electricity if out.
 

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Discussion Starter #4
agmantoo said:
I have a water source geothermal heat pump and have had it for going on 14 years. I am thoroughly satisfied with it and when this one dies I will replace it with another but will use a ground loop. This unit does not have the heat scavange for the domestic hot water but I would also opt for that in the next one. QUOTE]

Thanks agmantoo. What is the advantage of using a ground loop instead of your current one? My concern about water source geothermal is that I depend on rainwater for everything, and I don't want to use excess waqter from my cistern if I don't need to.

Did you price the heat scavange option?

Do you remember what company you used to install the whole system?

Thanks for all your help. I am just beginning to learn about geothermal.. Please be patient with my questions.
 

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agmantoo
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You definitely want to go with a loop system as it will recirculate the fluid without having to "waste" water. You also avoid the expense of a water control circuit. Instead of running a larger well pump as I now do I could run a fractional horsepower pump for the recirculation and save additional money there. If memory is correct, the hotwater add on for the domestic water was about $300. Payback on the hot water should be only a few years. I could have gotten it as an option after the installation but it requires the freon line to be cut and I did not want to give up the integriety of the factory joints. The sytem is surprising small, not much larger than a dormitory refrigerator. Mine was manufactured in Georgia but I do not remember the name. There is no reason, other than the expense of installing the loop, that the units are now priced as high as they are. The life of the loop should be 50 + years. Geothermal heatpumps are simpler and have less components than a conventional system. Continue to ask any question that may surface regarding this system.
Go here to read, just ignore the overpriced asking prices http://cgi.ebay.com/ws/eBayISAPI.dll?ViewItem&category=20711&item=3194514748&rd=1&ssPageName=WDVW
 
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My house had an old geothermal unit. It is/was around 22 years old. It crapped out about a year after I purchased the house due to neglect from the previous owner.

I am having it replaced. I already have the ground loop which utilizes nothing but water. I will not have the heat strip, but will have it go to my hot water as that is configured now.

They are quoting me 8500 for taking out the old and putting in the new. Doesn't this seem high to you?
 

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agmantoo
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Unregistered, the $8500 bucks for a replacement unit is way too high unless you live in the Biltmore house. These units are precharged, unitized packages and not to make light of it they are simple to exchange and require very little expertise and few tools. I plan to change my own when the time comes. I will buy one through a friend that has a HVAC license. At this time I would expect to pay $2500 +- for a 3 to 3 1/2 ton unit. I have always found it easier to save money than to make money. :)
 

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Agmantoo's advice, comments, and experience are correct.

FYI From a previous post of mine,

Geothermal
"Geothermal" is heating with underground hot water. This is very rare, and usually requires very deep drilling, except in a few areas where there is hot water near the surface.

Ground Source Heat Pump (GSHP)
However, in many areas, you can drill down into the ground and take heat away in the winter, and supply heat back into the ground in the summer, using a "ground source heat pump" system. Or, sometimes horizontal trenches are dug and pipe is laid in them for the heat sink. Or, sometimes a lake or the sea can be used - you arrange some coils of plastic pipe in the water, and do the same thing.

Cost
The cost is the key. Find out if the heat transfer characteristics are correct from a proper well-driller-installer of ground source heat pumps. If your area is OK for this, then go for it. There is a capital cost, and you have to decide if you like the idea and the long pay back.

If you decide to go ahead, then you need, a well(s), a pump system for the water, a heat pump, a buffer tank (usually), a peaking water heater (usually - an economic decision), then an air distribution or water distribution system.

Pictures
Here some pictures of a large social housing project that I worked on in Vancouver, BC, Canada. Geothermal ground source heat pump housing

Particularly interesting in the "slide show" are some unique small fan coil units that successfully operate. These are Canadian made and work well. These units will cool and heat. You can use a more common air distribution system for heating and cooling, or a common in-floor radiant for heating only - still all of these use the other basic heat pump equipment and ideas in the slide show for this project.

Boring (not for me) Calculations
The "heat transfer" Heat transfer calculations information I talked above are some of the terms shown in the typical calculations on this link. Your local supplier should make these calculations and you should ask for a copy to review.

Local Installer
There are installers who specialize in most areas in small (and larger) single family residential ground source heat pump systems and can help you figure out the cost and pay back. Or understand the cost connected with your desire to help use less electrical power and/or be more energy efficient.

I think using a GSHP is a good idea, and heat can usually be had for about 1/4 of the cost of electrical power (depending on several things).

Zero Energy Use
The idea of having zero net energy use is greatly helped by highly efficient system like these GSHP systems. Once we get our energy use very low, then with solar voltaic power generation (and other renewable ideas) we can have at least a zero-connected-to-the-grid-energy-use-house. The cost is more, maybe $18,000 for a big house, and the pay back is real long. I am not talking about not being connected to the grid - use the grid - just don't use ANY energy that you do not generate.

And, what about a granite counter top - every new place in Vancouver and San Diego HAS to have those tops. They are not "cost effective" - people pay a lot extra for them because they want them or MUST have them. What's the difference with just having to have a "net-zero-energy-use" house.

Vision
Most of us can live with zero energy use. Are we strong enough to do it? Will we pay for it? Even if it cost more than not doing it. Wouldn't it be great to live with zero net energy use, day in and day out, every day, everyone?

OK, OK, almost everyone.

Alex
A good thing to do.

Alex
 

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Umm, we gave 18,000 for ours. It is a dual zone system with two units and heats hot water. Don't ask, our house is a whopper and you'll have to discuss that with my husband. :rolleyes: Anyway after we got bids on a regular system the geo was not that much higher. We could have had it for 3500 cheaper but we had the wells drilled (4) and they are more expensive. They seal them in concrete and you don't even know where they are. I really don't understand all this but that's our experience. By the way, ask you electric co. if they will order hot water heaters for you that are enery efficient, ours did and they were quite a bit cheaper.
 

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agmantoo
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Unregistered, a 5 ton unit is rather large. I would think your home is rather energy efficient to have originally had a geothermanl heatpump installled initially. Since I have no idea as to you location that too could enter into the equation. Here in NC a 3 1/2 ton unit can comfortably heat and cool a 3000 sq ft (conditioned area) well insulated house with 9 feet ceilings. You do not want to install a unit that is too small but at the same time one that is too large will impact your utility bill negatively. In my experience, nearly every building has the heat/air oversized due to the person doing the calcutions being unsure and not wanting to get a recall due to insufficient cooling/heating. It just penalizes the home owner! IMO, you want the unit to run flat out on the coldest day in the winter and the hottest day in summer while the occupants remain comfortable. The highest energy costs with this device is on startup and with an oversized compressor the unit will start/stop too frequently.
 

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Hi everyone,
We live in NY state and have an open loop system that is about 18 years old. It's very tiny and the previous owner added about 1200 square feet to the house without updating the geothermal system. Instead he added an electric backup so that the geothermal would act like a supplemental for hot water and heat. I love the idea of a geothermal system but two years ago it literally ran our well down to a scary level so we turned it off and heat with wood and electric. Ouch.
Now, we have no hot water heater and so are trying to figure out the best way to replace it. Shoule we even mess with geothermal in an area where the winters routinely reach below zero? Should we just pull all the old tanks out and scrap them? Should we continue to heat w/wood/electric? I really don't want to put in any new systems that require petroleum products...what say you?
Thanks!!
Heidi
 

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agmantoo
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heidith, personally I would convert to a closed loop and I would use the geothemal unit as the primary and have the electric or wood as a backup. The electric is the last source of heat that I would kick in as it is the most expensive.
 
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agmantoo,

We live in Oklahoma, where the summers are butal and the winters can get very cold. The worst part of the winters, is the never ending winds that blow the cold thru everything. The living room is large and open up to about 18'. There are a few other rooms that have 12' ceilings. Having once lived in NC, I can tell you that you have it easy in the summers as compared to what we are put thru. I'm just hoping that we don't have to many days over 100 this year.

Thanks for all the information, and it is something to consider.
 

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I bought from the "over priced guys" Agmantoo mentioned in his post and my shipment arrives tomorrow. I bought off EBAY not their website: www.arit.com
I am building a 1600 sq foot ranch with a full basement that will have R29 walls on the main floor, R10 in the basement including slab and R60 blown in in the attic. Here is the link to what I bought: http://cgi.ebay.com/ws/eBayISAPI.dll?ViewItem&item=3184407107&sspagename=STRK:MEWA:IT&rd=1
They tried to talk me into a 4 ton, but I think the 3 ton will be more than enough. I upgraded the compressor to a Copeland scroll type, had a 4k heat strip installed and added a desuperheater to make hot water. I also paid extra to have my 6 ground loops extended from 600' to 750' because I'm in sandy/gravel soil. All said and done, shipped to my door the system is running me about $4500.00 . I think it's well worth it because the 3 installed estimates I got were from $14,000 to $20,000. The system comes with a preassembled pump/manifold center and the loops are color coded. The loops are prefilled with antifreeze and are just plugged in. I have acces to a backhoe with a 3' bucket so that helps alot. The guy next to where I'm building is an HVAC installer so I'll have him help with the duct work, he doesn't do Geo installs. I'll update evrybody on how it works when it's installed.

Ed
 

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Ed, please do post your experiences installing this and how it works out. I'm considering a ground loop heat pump but seriously wonder how many years to break-even considering that a regular air heatpump with a good SEER runs less than a third of the price.

I note that your winning bid was $3248 but the cost to your door was $4500. Was freight from Ohio to Michigan THAT expensive?
 

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Charles: "I note that your winning bid was $3248 but the cost to your door was $4500. Was freight from Ohio to Michigan THAT expensive?"

Ed: "I upgraded the compressor to a Copeland scroll type, had a 4k heat strip installed and added a desuperheater to make hot water. I also paid extra to have my 8 ground loops extended from 600' to 750' because I'm in sandy/gravel soil. All said and done, shipped to my door the system is running me about $4500.00"

Ed
 
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Building in North Georgia ( Ringgold ). How would I best locate a dealer/Installer and check to see if there are any incentives/rebates--like some states offer to help defray the costs.

I was thinking of a 14 Seer Heat Pump, but then caught wind of GeoThermal. Not sure I can afford the initial costs, but I'm looking seriously at this possibility.

Any help is appreciated.

Thanks
Steve

uarelovedbygod said:
Anyone out there who uses or is an expert in geothermal? I am considering this option for our home. Opinions regarding vertical vs horizontal? Anyone know anyone in the KY/TENN area who installs them? I live in south central KY.

thanks!
 

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agmantoo
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Steve, there is a good probability that your electric utility can give you the answers. As for as affording the geothermal, if you plan on this being a long term resident I question if you can afford not too. As I stated above, it it a very small unit and all is inside. It is more like buying a refrigerator. One that is very cheap to operate and to own. The unit heats and cools as if each day the temperature outside is the ground temp at the depth the lines are buried. My well water temp is 56 degrees, therefore the unit has no problems cooling the house down to 76/78. As for heating, at a 56 degree temp coming into the unit, it only has to extract 12 to 14 degrees to add to the house to hold the 68/70 temp in the winter. I know how important AC is in your area as I was in Moultrie (farther south) at the farm show and thought I was going to melt. Additionally, many people grumble that a heat pump is a modern device that heats with cold air. That is not the case with a geothermal unit as they put out relatively hot air. Not as hot as gas ,wood, oil, but nevertheless, nice heat. I would install a loop system provided you have the space and I would buy with the heat recovery for the domestic hot water during the summer. Your low power bill will more that offset the additional costs and if you shop around you will find someone that is competitive in price. The only price penalty one should have is the cost of the loop IMO.
 
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