Confused alien from Northern VA

Discussion in 'Quotes and Proposals' started by Molle, May 14, 2011.

  1. Molle

    Molle New Member

    Hi everyone!

    Just pressed the register button, after searching for ages for something like this forum, a non-biased forum for geo :)

    I'm from Europe, more exact Sweden, where we have used geoheat for ages, and also have the two largest manufacturers in europe (IVT and NIBE). I used to work as a service rep/coordinator for heatpumps in Sweden for 5 years, and then later with sales of heatpumps. As i moved over here, i started looking for the same type of jobs over here, and soon discovered that the choices was.... well, non-existant to say the least. I'm used to having 50 installers in a region with about 500.000 people, with at least 5 different brands to choose from. Here, i have hard time finding even one...

    No, I'm not looking for a job. :)

    However, just got this house, in the countryside, where the things in the basement makes me go "what the...."

    I'm used to working with radiant heat, floorheat, celsius not fahrenheit, meters not feet, and kW not BTU, and the obsession with air heat makes me shiver, but I do see why, since its getting HOT outside, and the AC unit makes my life bearable. You have to understand, that im used to a heat wave being at about 80 degrees.

    I'm my basement, we got this LPG furnace, which when filled, at cold weather sucks 500 bucks of propane in a month (heat and water), and its plain to see that the 15 year old waterheater isnt going to last long.

    I, however, need some help.

    Where do I find choices of Geothermal brands? I've only manage to find Waterfurnace and ClimateMaster so far.

    Where do I find contractors that are EXPERIENCED in installing complete units? I've rummaged the web and only found.... 1 in my area.

    Without doing any estimates whatsoever, i'd say this is a 12 kW house (no, I havnt translated that to BTU, since BTU confuses the heck outta me), its about 3000 sqft, 2 stories and finished basement and we have 6 females in the family (yes hot water will be interesting). Now this is what i would put in using radiant heat.... when it comes to air.... yelp.

    The last thing that happened in Sweden, was that a transition towards Split Air units (air to water) was happening, ie, return of investment would come at about 5 years for a air/water unit, and a geo unit would land at about 8 years (very generic and differs a lto from house to house ofc), the geo would then win over the air/water at about 20 years, but, units dont live that long.

    In my world, a heatpump has a lifespan of at the most 15 years, and if you dont get it "paid" in 10 years, its not worth doing. Also, in those 15 years, you need to calc in a compressor change...

    So, as you can see, theres a million hidden questions in all that up there, and, im looking for some pointers, before i start buying.

    All in all
    Hi guys! Help?

  2. Mark Custis

    Mark Custis Not soon. Industry Professional Forum Leader

    I will be heading to DC in June.

    You can try find a pro here.

  3. Molle

    Molle New Member

    Hence the post Mark, and im liking what im seing, but, most ppl here are not NoVa, apart from some who are semiretired who goes to DC every so often... ;)
  4. docjenser

    docjenser Well-Known Member Industry Professional Forum Leader

    I am from Europe, too, Germany to be exact, and I remember the first time I did see a forced air unit here, and I thought "cheese, those americans.....". While I hated the forced air heat (the gas furnace one,not the multi stage, variable speed geo one), I came to appreciate the A/C, so now I have radiant floors with ductwork for A/C, but not everybody has the budget for it. After having done this for a while in Germany, and was now burning something again to heat my house (what an old fashion concept) I was looking for contractors to put a geosystem in my house, but everyone who stopped by really did not have a clue. So I talked to my favorite HVAC/plumbing guy, got us certified by IGSHPA, designed the system and he bolted it in. That is how Buffalo Geothermal got started. I am surprised that life expectancy is so short in Sweden, here the systems run still strong after 25 years.
    Materials and efficiency have significantly improved in the last 10-15 years, no reason not to count on 25-30 years of life expectancy, and even then you would still tie back into the same loopfield.

    Waterfurnace, Climatemaster and Hydron (and their rebranded "clones") I consider the 3 premium brands. We install all 3 with a focus on Climatemaster.
    Technology is still behind Europe in terms of high temperature water-water output for retrofits, and designated domestic hot water circuits, circulation pumps (getting much better now), and high efficiency tanks, but obviously much advanced in terms of forced air units with multi stage compressors and variable stage fans, and yes, aux heat!
    You get used to the british based system (BTUs etc).

    Do not underestimate the difference in Climate and insulation compared to europe, get a manual J heatloss done and look at the previous usage data for your house. Then size your unit. 12KW compares about to a 4 ton system here, no brainer for me to do it if you are on propane right now.
    With that many hot water users you might want to consider a hybrid unit, and use the extra water coil as designated domestic hot water generator, especially if you do not have access to (still cheap) natural gas.
    I started to learn about the material and units here in North America,and then started to implement some European design experience. As always, the best solution is to take the best out of both worlds and make it your own.

    Let people here know your specific questions, there are some very good experts here....:cool:
    Last edited: May 15, 2011
  5. AMI Contracting

    AMI Contracting A nice Van Morrison song Industry Professional Forum Leader

    Premium brands include FHP as well (now owned by Bosch).
    If you can't find a pro advertising here you might try International Ground Source Heat Pump Association certified installers (igshpa).
    Geography and electric prices have a large impact on design.
    Doc and I have had a spirited debate or two on sizing, but the context is his customers pay 10 cents more kwh than mine so I employ much more auxiliary heat.
    If one has a cooling dominated load, auxiliary is a little harder to come by in a traditional fashion, but it is doable.
    good luck,
  6. docjenser

    docjenser Well-Known Member Industry Professional Forum Leader

    I realize that 2 anecdotes is not data, but I had bad luck with FHP twice in the last 6 months, both units came miswired from the factory causing a lot of problems. I too have high hopes in Bosch, however, they did not yet have any impact on design or quality control improvements.
  7. Molle

    Molle New Member

    So, to be totally blunt...

    Who would you guys recommend up in NoVA for complete geo install?

    I want to get rid of the lpg furnace, and the old ac will be replaced as well, hopefully integrated properly into the heatpump.

    The only thing that concerns me really is the forced air, and transfering the heat from water to air...

    Is there any geopumps with the hotwater heater built into it? (thats what i'm used to), in my case, i will need a extra waterheater after the geoheat tho with 6 females in the house, or we will be showering cold.

    In Sweden, the choice between a dug loop and a drilled loop was easy, and the drilled loop always won, even with the extra costs, is this the case over here as well?
  8. Mark Custis

    Mark Custis Not soon. Industry Professional Forum Leader


    So I will not be invited to help. I maybe slowing down in body but still can create affordable retro-fits for discerning Europeans. Where do you and Doc think I learned what I know? Not here in the states.

    I have not used the air to water machines yet.

    I can think in KW and meters. LOL.

    @ Doc. I thought I felt Germany in your posts, as I have people in Baden-Baden.

    Last edited: May 15, 2011
  9. docjenser

    docjenser Well-Known Member Industry Professional Forum Leader

    Horizontal works as good here as vertical loops, since we have a nice swing between the seasons, and the loops nicely recharge. No concerns there. They just have to be designed correctly. Don't know anyone in NoVA.
    No concerns with water to air units. Never as good as radiant, but variable speed fan and multistage heating and cooling provides an even out indoor climate. Most cost effective way for your domestic hot water is to use a hybrid pump with an extra water coil and use that for domestic hot water, and a large 100 gallon plus tank.

    Waterfurnace (Synergy 3D) and Hydron (H series combination) makes them. We have a couple online, check them out and let me know if you need more details.

    Buffalo GeoThermal Heating
    Second system from top has a prioritized hot water option via the water coil.
  10. docjenser

    docjenser Well-Known Member Industry Professional Forum Leader

    Baden-Baden is sweet! But I am originally from Hamburg. All radiant there. Came here and wondered why Americans can fly to the moon but use hot air, which blows dust around, is noisy and dries out your nose, to heat their houses.
    Started to understand them much better after the first summer in 100 degree weather. Nevertheless, when I bought my 1st house here, #1 on the shopping list was radiant heat.

    Many things have improved, especially multi stage heating and variable speed fans with geo.
  11. Mark Custis

    Mark Custis Not soon. Industry Professional Forum Leader


    Thanks, I think I went through your area on a high school three week tour of Europe. I had a blast and learned to drink beer on that trip.

    We may get to share a good lager. Watch out for drinking beer in Michigan.
  12. Molle

    Molle New Member

    The latest bang for the buck over in EU was these air to water units

    Sold quite a few, and customers loved them... however, in this climate and with forced air, wouldnt work so well as those are designed for convector radiators if anything but radiant heat

    @Mark - Age is a good thing, and gives experience, and your skills are shining through your postings, i wouldnt think twice about your expertise, its clearly there

    @Doc - Thanks, i will be looking over the products you listed, and try to learn more about this forced air thing that im stuck with (would love radiant heat, but thats not on the shopping list... yet)

    And any help/hints/referrals you guys can think of... would be appreciated.

  13. Mark Custis

    Mark Custis Not soon. Industry Professional Forum Leader

    Stephanie and I work with our customers

    we can stop by and look at the job if you wish. I am sure they have labor ready temps in VA.
  14. docjenser

    docjenser Well-Known Member Industry Professional Forum Leader

    We don't have to learn that, it is in our genes. Beer is considered food in Germany. So as youngsters, we are running around the playgrounds adjacent to the beer gardens, where your parents hang out. We have Labatt here, Buffalo is too close to Canada. No bad.
  15. docjenser

    docjenser Well-Known Member Industry Professional Forum Leader

    The NIBE air sourced heat pump is not disclosing the COP in much colder weather. Although they advertise operating range down to -20C, and an average COP of 3.6 over the season, might be the same in NoVirginia. So yes, an air sourced HPmight be analternative foryou. However, ground source should have higher efficiency over the season.
  16. Mark Custis

    Mark Custis Not soon. Industry Professional Forum Leader

    Cleveland and Buffalo

    are both in the lake Erie snow system, we have better walleye fishing in Lorain.

    I always wondered why I liked beer.

    I just flat out like radiant heat. It has many advantages. So if I had a hands on guy, with lots of kids to help him. I could retro-fit a radiant system for a DIY project.

    I have used the Watts Radiant Flex Plate Graphite product. If you can not find it let me know. We did test home #1 for this product. It is about the same cost as extruded aluminum plates, just three times as fast to install and has better heat transfer.

    I need to go find some of that beer food group.

  17. geome

    geome Member Forum Leader

    Several homeowners have wrote here about some Maryland installs. If this would be helpful information to you, maybe some recommendations will be forthcoming. But, I am not familiar with the logistics involved with crossing state lines for geothermal installs.

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