Combination systems

Discussion in 'General Discussions' started by sunnyflies, Oct 11, 2009.

  1. sunnyflies

    sunnyflies Member Forum Leader

    I am being told so many conflicting things I don't know what to believe anymore.

    I had been leaning toward a WaterFurnace Envision system and using a particular installer until someone told us a few days ago that she had a lot of problems with an HVAC install he did - maybe that was an aberration, but it did give my husband serious pause as he wasn't too keen on him to start with. All the references the guy had given me checked out well, so he clearly has some happy customers.

    Meanwhile, another installer just told me he doesn't like to handle WF anymore - though he says he'll put one in for me if I want one - because he says they have been having lots of problems, parts are hard to get and the company's not responsive. Is that true?

    He's trying to sell me a Hydron Module combination system, which he tells me is more reliable and could be also used to heat my bathroom floors. Heated bathroom floors would be a luxury I had never dreamed of when I started planning our renovation - soooo nice. I know that WF makes a combination system, too, the Synergy 3D. How good is it?

    Are WaterFurnace Envisions as problem prone as the second guy says? Or, is he just trying to scare me off WF so he can sell me a Hydron system? (As I suspect) And, is the Hydron Module as good as he says it is?

    If both brands work well, which system would be better for mainly air and some hydronic heat, WF Synergy or Hydron? And lastly, are combination systems less efficient than single systems? Thanks.
  2. waterpirate

    waterpirate Well-Known Member Industry Professional Forum Leader

    These unit questions seem to come up a lot. This is my standard response to them, and all mechanical equiptment in general.
    The best widget to buy is the one supplied by the installer that you trust, that is available locally, with good parts availability. That being said many widgets have great support some places and piss poor others. Choose the installer you trust and go with the widget he or she is going to warranty and service.
  3. teetech

    teetech Member Forum Leader

    Sounds like he has dealt with the E-series 2 speed. (not one of WF better units) The Envision has been out for 3 years now and the problems no longer exist.

    The 3D is is the latest of the synergy line and uses many Envision components.

    If your only reason to buy a Synergy 3D is to warm bathroom floors, I would consider other options like electric mats.

    I think we both answered that.

    One thing to make clear is Equipment is only as good as the dealer/installer who puts them in. The efficiency of a combination depends on what your going to with it.
  4. sunnyflies

    sunnyflies Member Forum Leader

    Thank you for the information about Water Furnace Envision's reliability. It is reassuring. I wasn't sure I believed what the Hydron guy was telling me about WF, but what do I know? That's why I posted here. He seems a bit of a sales man - actually, he is the salesman for the installer who would put in the unit. He's also representing a drilling company.

    I have been reading through this site since last spring and the most important thing I have learned is that the installer is the key to a good system. When I started talking to geo sales people and installers it was fairly easy to weed out the ones who knew about as much as I did, from those who jumped into the business recently, but talked a good game. And, it was simple to nix the ones whose references didn't check out or who couldn't do a manual J, or the engineer who sent me one for someone else's house, but tried to say it was for mine. However, it is less easy to know if what I am being told is correct when I am dealing with experienced geo installers - or their salesmen. When the system I'm looking at is $45,000 I have to be sure I make the right choice.

    I thought I had made the decision to use WF, until a few days ago when a woman told me she'd had a pretty bad experience with the installer. I am going to talk to her again today to see if I can pinpoint exactly what her problems were and what caused them.

    The Hydron sales guy - who put down WF, brought his installer by - who's installed Hydron geo for many years, and they told me I could get both air and hot water for my bathroom floors from his system - which is tempting. And, which got me to wondering about the WF Synergy system.

    "If your only reason to buy a Synergy 3D is to warm bathroom floors, I would consider other options like electric mats."

    The problem with electric mats is that they have to be on timers whereas a hydronic floor would always be warm. My husband would not use an electric mat - all he'd think about was our sky high electric rates (21 cents). He's the one I am thinking of, not me. It would be nice to have warm floors for those midnight bathroom excursions of his.

    To complicate matters, my local utility's geo expert has encouraged me several times to speak to another firm which she assures me has put in the most geo systems in the area. That was news to me as I had talked to that firm back in the early spring only to have them tell me not to go with geo in my old house, but to put in a fossil fuel system - for which they sent me a proposal. Now, six months later, they are suddenly all gung-ho on selling me a geo system which they say enthusiastically will work perfectly for me. They use Florida Heat Pumps which I am not sure would be right. Aren't FHPs more for cooling dominated climates? I am on Long Island, NY where heat is very important, as it dehumidifying in the summer.

    Should I give up on the thought of hydronic floors since my main need is an air system? Are combination systems too complicated? And, possibly not as efficient as they are being asked to do two jobs.

    "The best widget to buy is the one supplied by the installer that you trust, ..." Well, I wish it were so clear cut. Would I do best to trust the guys who said geo wouldn't work for me last spring - but for some rea$on will now, or the slick talking, pushy guy who promises me his unit can do everything and other brands can't, or the somewhat eccentric guy who had to come back multiple times to fix that woman's job? I have to pick one, for there aren't any others.
  5. teetech

    teetech Member Forum Leader

    A word of caution here, if your "old house" is not well insulated with newer dual pane windows; then Geo will not be economical choice for you!

    Not necessary to have timers and output is adjustable on mats. For hydronic floor you will need a buffer tank and piping to unit. Be aware if you have a 5 ton unit and small hydronic load your operating efficiency on that load will not be as good. In other words running the Geo for floor heat just in bathrooms may cost more that mats.

    Remember Geo uses electricity to operate.
  6. sunnyflies

    sunnyflies Member Forum Leader

  7. jrh

    jrh Member

    She is
  8. Palace GeoThermal

    Palace GeoThermal Well-Known Member Industry Professional Forum Leader

    You don't have much to worry about with the hydronic load on a combo system. You can give either side priority. Only if the heat pump was running the air side round the clock would the hydronic load not be met.

    FHP heat pumps work well in cold climates. I have one in my own house.

    We do install mostly Hydron units and have great confidence in them.

    As has been noted many times, choosing the installer is the key decision you have to make.

    Length of time in business and good references would be top of my list.

    Good luck
  9. sunnyflies

    sunnyflies Member Forum Leader

    jrh -Thanks for the reassurance. It makes me feel better about my nice old windows. It's easy to get shaken, even when I think I am on the right track.

    palacegeo - I appreciate your taking the time to answer my questions. It's good to know each is a good reliable brand and would be suitable for my area. And, that possibly hydronic might work. Now I feel I have some real choices.

    It's kind of funny to ask for help from people I don't know on a website in cyberland, but after reading so many of the posts here I have come to realize that a number of people on geoexchange really know what they are talking about. Getting sensible, understandable feedback cuts the static I have been getting on my end and helps me focus.

    Looking into geothermal heat has been fascinating, frustrating and confusing by turns. Daunting even, sometimes.

    "Length of time in business and good references would be top of my list."

    Each of the three installers I will be speaking to this week tells me they have been installing geo systems more than twenty years, which is good. I do still need to check the geo references of two of them. They have excellent reputations for regular HVAC, but, as I have learned during the last six months, that doesn't always carry over to geo.
  10. waterpirate

    waterpirate Well-Known Member Industry Professional Forum Leader

    I have a 100 year old plus house that leaks and it's infiltration rate on the manual j is below poor. I love my house. I will tell you what I was told way back in the beginning about my house. If your house leaks and you like it, you need to heat and cool it as cheap as possible. Insert goethermal here.
    I had a hydronic boiler that was eating 650.00 worth of fuel oil a month. Average bill now 250.00 all inclusive.
  11. teetech

    teetech Member Forum Leader

    That's pretty impressive for a 100yr old leaky house. I am curious, how big is this house and unit and what are your fuel rates?
  12. waterpirate

    waterpirate Well-Known Member Industry Professional Forum Leader

    I am 2200 square feet I think. Old farmhouse two story with modifications to the upstairs. Upstairs load was sized at 2 tons and was square on. Downstairs was sized at 3 tons, should have been 4 due to infiltration rating. That infiltration rating mess up was how I found my way here. I am on a closed vertical loop field.
    Unit downstairs is a 3 ton horizontal single stage fhp gs model. Upstairs is a 2 ton fhp single stage split, again gs model.
    I got off oil at the price of 3.65 per gallon with a 5 year old weil McClain boiler resulted in the 650.00 a month.
  13. teetech

    teetech Member Forum Leader


    What is your electric rate?
  14. AMI Contracting

    AMI Contracting A nice Van Morrison song Industry Professional Forum Leader


    There is such a thing.
    Over scrutiny is the kind of thing that makes me worry that if my installer hangs a pipe here instead of there- it could be trouble......."you said it was going over there".......though neither location has an impact on performance...
    If you get yourself identified as micromanaging or in constant need of affirmation, you will likely pay more because of the time you will consume seeking answers to meaningless questions.
    No company or installer has satisfied everybody.
    Sooner or later you will have to take some things on faith.
  15. sunnyflies

    sunnyflies Member Forum Leader

    Re: Overshopping

    I am well aware of this. I intend to trust whoever puts in the system, once I decide who that will be. However, I have been told so many conflicting bits of information, as well as heard so many - "his product is junk, mine is great" - lines, that I am having trouble wading through the talk. That's why I have turned to this site.

    It isn't reassuring, either, when each one tells me the others are wrong about tonnage, or placement of ducts, or how many I need, or where air outlets and returns ought to be, whether my existing ducts will work or not, etc. I am not a professional, I am just a homeowner trying to make a decision about a new type of heating system. Unlike a car, I can not test drive it. I have one shot at getting it right, and it had better be a good one.

    Maybe from a professional's point of view I am being silly, but from my checkbooks viewpoint, I am being careful.
  16. OutdoorGeo

    OutdoorGeo New Member

    Re: Overshopping

    Excellent points!!! They might be throwing in a lot of extra cash as a result of the micro management. Get the references and go with the guy with the best references. He doesn't tell you how to do your job so don't tell him how to do his based on your experience of reading posts on the internet! As for machine, they are all good machines or they wouldn't be manufactured and sold. Debating over machines is like debating Ford, Chevy, or Dodge trucks. Everyone has their opinion and every company has an occasional lemon.
  17. Mark Custis

    Mark Custis Not soon. Industry Professional Forum Leader

    I will go look up my quote for Sunny

    and add a percentage and she would have been geo warm with the radiant floors about ten months ago.

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