Looking at Geothermal in Minnesota!! Questions For All!

Discussion in 'Quotes and Proposals' started by nickstarcevic, Oct 1, 2012.

  1. nickstarcevic

    nickstarcevic New Member

    Hi All!!

    Just found this website and have been doing preliminary re-con work for my house I'm building. Just checking in to see if anyone from the site is from MN and have done geothermal in MN? Also, checking out ballpark figures for an all-in finished geothermal set up for a 1500 sq. ft. house w/ finished basement (1000 sq. ft.). I'm a pretty big novice when it comes to all this, so any info. would be appreciated. My fiances' cousin had geothermal put in (in Canada) all-in for 17 grand for a 2500 sq. ft. house. Obviously, things would affect costs, I understand (closed loop/open loop, etc.) but just wanted to get some ballpark figures.


    Nick !!
  2. AMI Contracting

    AMI Contracting A nice Van Morrison song Industry Professional Forum Leader

    Based on the information offered I would ball park this at 20-50K
  3. JFLame

    JFLame Member


    The professionals around here simply refuse to discuss specifics when it comes to prices. They certainly could, but as a general rule they don't, hence AMI's snarky response.

    With that said, as a non-professional I've gotten enough quotes to at least understand the components that make up the cost of a geo system. They break down as follows:

    1. Equipment - the furnace itself, the addition of hot water generation, a holding tank, a new hot water heater. From what I can gather from the quotes for a Waterfurnace 4-ton NDV-049, this will run between $15,000 and $17,000. I'm told the hot water generator and holding tank are about $1800 of that.

    2. Installation of equipment - this is somewhat variable, but in general you have plumbing and electrical costs for the furnace and water heater. There shouldn't be much variation in these costs. Most guys include this in the number I quoted in (1), but I'm sure if you have an odd installation you'll pay more or less.

    3. Loop construction - this is the main variable. Costs can be all over the place depending on the type of loop, and the area you are drilling in.

    4. Zoning equipment - if you want to do zoning, there is a cost to the equipment which is pretty standard. My research for Intellizone puts the equipment cost alone somewhere around $2-2.5k.

    5. Zoning installation - another big variable. So much depends on how your house is configured, that only a site visit with some sort of analysis will get you this type of number. Can't quote this.

    The best thing you can do is start getting quotes, but only if you're ok with the general cost being at least in the $25k range.

    Good luck.
  4. engineer

    engineer Well-Known Member Industry Professional Forum Leader

    If you think professionals "around here" are reticent about pricing, stroll your backside over to HVAC-Talk and try some pricing questions there.

    The reason we are reticent has less to do with evil, conspiratorial intent and more to do with variations in local pricing unknown to distant internet writers. Highly variable local pricing components include:

    hourly labor
    soil conditions

    So, please kindly get off the "pros here suck" mantra and give a little credit to the hours of contributions we make while threading the needle occasioned by our ignorance of specific local conditions.
  5. JFLame

    JFLame Member


    As a consumer, I would find it much more helpful if those of you who are in the know could at the least provide some data on what pricing looks like in your own areas. Folks are smart enough to know that there are variables that affect prices, and you can caveat with that.

    It's not like pricing is some grand secret. People tell their friends and neighbors all the time what things cost, so why hold back?

    I would go as far as to say you guys are doing a disservice to your industry by holding back this information. Geothermal is still a new technology to most folks out there, and if the only way to get some general pricing information is to force folks to call an installer and have them visit their home, then I imagine this alone could keep folks from even looking into the technology without having some sort of idea on initial price.
  6. urthbuoy

    urthbuoy Well-Known Member Industry Professional Forum Leader

    To add

    I would love to standardize my own pricing let alone come up with some definitive answer. Ideally we just give a price/ft of construction or % of construction costs so homeowners could wrap there heads around it.

    But then you can put in junk for cheap and fancy systems that you can control with a phone. So how do we just give a set rate for that?

    It is no secret society. Just nonsense to put a number down.

    We have to design the power plant for the house. The conventional guys just put in oversized cubes.
    Last edited: Oct 6, 2012
  7. JFLame

    JFLame Member

    Can I ask why the tried-and-true "time and materials" breakdown doesn't seem to work for geo systems? Every construction project ever can be broken down into T&M, so why not do that? I can't imagine that there is that much cost variation for, say, a Waterfurnace NDV-49 in Pennsylvania vs. Colorado, it should be roughly the same. The variation will be in the time/labor component, and for that you should be able to provide a range:

    "In terms of labor, A low complexity job will cost you X, a medium complexity job will cost you Y, and a high complexity job will cost you Z. Further, this is what typically constitutes low, medium and high complexity..."

    I do construction, but not in the HVAC industry, and somehow I manage to give my customers the information they need without knowing every exact detail. Estimations are not rocket science, especially if you have experience and you work in an industry where the technology doesn't change every 6 months and there are only a handful of variables.
  8. urthbuoy

    urthbuoy Well-Known Member Industry Professional Forum Leader


    Because you have so much variation. Not just complexity.

    Different houses. Different zone uses. Different locations. You have different loops. Different distribution systems. Multiple heat pump options for each job. Multiple levels of control options. Giving a price of $20/ft doesn't work as economy of scale makes it non-linear. I can put in a $25k system on a house and I can also put in a $40k system on the same house. What I won't do is put in a $15k system. Those that care about their work, don't do cheap.

    I can come up with fixed costs. But the margins to cover all the options will kill a job. We need to be competitive.

    Here's what I think. All builders need to stop being so cheap ass on building's mechanical systems:). Make this 10-15% of construction costs. That is a number most high efficiency guys can work with - geo or not.

    I do time and materials quotes all the time. Or, preferably, fixed costs so I don't need to track and charge for every brass fitting.
    Last edited: Oct 7, 2012
  9. docjenser

    docjenser Well-Known Member Industry Professional Forum Leader

    Once you know it has to be a 4 ton water-air, you are already quite a bit down the road.
    The information given was Minnesota, 1500sqf + 1000sqf basement.<br />
    Is this Norther Minnesota, International Falls, or southern Minnesota. Design Temperature and loads might differ by 25F and many thousand BTUs. Is this a 1880 victorian without insulation and lead glass windows? Or a relative new house with extra insulation, foam, triple glass windows. soil conditions and geology? Radiant or forced air? Zoned? With designated hot water, DSH or no water? Drilling with gas pockets, gushing water in city limits, collapsing bore holes or an easy dig in the back yard?<br />
    All those scenarios can spread the total cost from$20-$100K. So I would say Joe was quite specific and narrow with his $20-50K.
    Last edited: Oct 7, 2012
  10. AMI Contracting

    AMI Contracting A nice Van Morrison song Industry Professional Forum Leader

    Actually we have discussed pricing some as well as the contributors such as heat load (size of system) etc.

    Nick notes himself that..... "Obviously, things would affect costs, I understand (closed loop/open loop, etc.)"
    You said yourself " "Folks are smart enough to know that there are variables that affect prices" yet none of these variables are offered.

    So I know that Nick is from MN but not which part so I have no feel for design temp.
    I know the house is 1500ish SF with basement (1000SF) but not if it's built yet or going to be.
    Did we want to go with in floor radiant?
    What's my heat load?
    Can we improve insulation?
    Do I need to price in duct system?
    How's the electric infrastructure?
    The list goes on....

    Based on the information before me- i.e. few (I didn't say none) geos cost less than 20K and I could probably do infloor radiant plus a duct system and hydronic air handler in a house that size with closed loop for around 50k- I responded candidly.

    Why not try this on Mr. or Ms. Lame?
    How much is a new car? I live in MI but I'm not sure how many passengers I'll need to carry. My brother got one in OH for 18K. I know there's different features I could get (i.e. 4 wheel drive, on star, air conditioning etc.) but I just want a ball park figure.

    Oh wait you do construction....- how much for a house?

    Now don't be "Snarky" and give me a huge price range.

    In thousands of posts I have hundreds in which I discuss pricing. I have to have something to go on.
    Last edited: Oct 8, 2012
  11. JFLame

    JFLame Member

    Joe, I concede. I stepped where I should not have gone.

    I still think you're a bit on the snarky side though. :p
  12. Palace GeoThermal

    Palace GeoThermal Well-Known Member Industry Professional Forum Leader

    In defense of Joe, he has posted 1782 times on this forum and probably about the same on other forums and has given great advice for free to hundreds of people.

    A ballpark figure was asked for with little supporting info.

    Joe gave a ballpark figure. I would have given a similar number.

    I think you are out line to pass any judgement since you didn't even ask the question.
  13. AMI Contracting

    AMI Contracting A nice Van Morrison song Industry Professional Forum Leader

    :D Ya think! You'll have to see Dewayne for diplomacy. ;)

    There was a point to it however and unfortunately I think we lost OP.
    When someone wants info, we need info.

    (didn't wanna give me a price for a house?LOL)

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