Loops, loops, loops

Discussion in 'General Discussions' started by sunnyflies, Mar 5, 2009.

  1. sunnyflies

    sunnyflies Member Forum Leader

    So far every installer has given me proposals for the 5 ton HP itself - ranging from $15 - $20,000, but told me to get my own electric, wells and loops. :rolleyes:

    This is a bit annoying, to say the least, as these are experienced guys. After looking into wells, I realize that my rusty, mineral laden water is not suitable for an open loop system, so I need to go with a closed loop. I realize this is treacherous territory, but I am determined to pick my way through it.

    The well drillers in my area want $22 a foot beyond the basic 60' for a PVC diffusion well for which they will charge about $2900. They wanted $5000 for a supply well - with a pump (those numbers are from when I was asking for an open loop system). How many wells would I need for a vertical loop system for the 5 ton GHP. I see people putting in up to five extremely deep wells. Water is not far down around here, but as this is a resort area, everything costs a lot - Recession, or not - so cost becomes a big factor. Is depth important, or is it more the EWT ?

    Is a horizontal system as efficient as a vertical loop system? If less, is it a lot less, or just a bit less? Also, is it more, or less expensive to have installed? I have plenty of land, so a horizontal system would work. And, it seems to me horizontal might be less expensive. Dig some trenches, lay in pipes or slinky coils, cover up.

    This brings me to: pipes vs slinky loops. Is one better than the other? Significantly? Why? And, who puts them in, a plumber? The well guys? (Which is what one installer suggested to my surprise.) So far I have not been able to get the answers to these questions and I would love some input. Thanks in advance.
  2. urthbuoy

    urthbuoy Well-Known Member Industry Professional Forum Leader

    A little disappointed

    That your local guys are dividing up a geothermal system in such a manner. These are "systems"; thus, function optimally when all is put together. Your ground loop depends on your system COP for example.

    Can I suggest you get a design done by someone in order to have a better idea as to what you need to shop around for with the sub's?
  3. engineer

    engineer Well-Known Member Industry Professional Forum Leader

    Done right, horizontal ought to be just a bit less efficient, maybe on the order of 10%, and should be substantially cheaper to install. There are probably 1000 guys equipped and able to dig trenches in your yard for every one well driller.

    I echo Urthbuoy's suggestion that a systems approach is crucial - starting with the building load, zones and working back to equipment selection and loop design.
  4. jrh

    jrh Member

    contrary to most drillers opinions

    horizontals can be very efficient,and are almost always cheaper to install, you say you have alot of land(be specific in this forum youll get more out of it)how much? As far as slinky loops vs straight loops ,doesnt really matter(its preference) it is really about feet of pipe in the trench, I agree with the previous post get a good design,your designer will have knowledge on what will work best for you, then youll have specific plans to give to who? It might be a well driller if its vertical,might be a excavator if its horizontal. I know its a pain in the #@%$, But there are companies out there that will handle sub contracting every thing from design to trim,there also companies that do it all in house.
    hang in there,
  5. sunnyflies

    sunnyflies Member Forum Leader

    That's the root of my frustration. I know that GHP are systems that need to be carefully designed for each situation; however, no one is designing me a full one, not even the engineers I have contacted. And, believe me, I have asked them to. The majority seem to be happy to sell the units and simply let the well drillers put in a pair of wells for open loops. That's it, job done. They have heard about closed loop horizontal systems, but none have done any.

    I am not about to accept that "one size fits all" scenario, so I am trying to do my homework. I have one guy checking with his distributor for advice, but I am not getting through to the others. I am still waiting for one more proposal, but I am doubtful about the installer who seems more of a salesman than an engineer. He's entertaining and sells lots of his brand, and does closed loops, but I don't know as I trust him. My husband doesn't. We'll see.

    So far I am getting load calculations that vary. They all tell me they have done Manual J's. Some think I will need 3 tons for my 2400 sq ft, others 5 tons and yet another 6 tons in two units. One guy's manual J print out says my upstairs load is the same as my downstairs load - which can't be true. This is not easy.

    I should add, I have more than five acres.
  6. Mike Everett

    Mike Everett New Member

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  7. Bergy

    Bergy Member Industry Professional Forum Leader

    Sounds like

    opportunity is knocking. Why not become the looper in your area? I know it won't help you now but the future beckons!!

  8. engineer

    engineer Well-Known Member Industry Professional Forum Leader

    What about dealer locators at the major manufacturer websites - I know Waterfurnace has one, I imagine the other majors such as Climatemaster and Florida Heat Pump ought to have them as well.

    Another option is DX - refrigerant lines directly buried. There's a major cheerleader of those over at greenbuildingtalk - he'll hook you up with an installer.
  9. sunnyflies

    sunnyflies Member Forum Leader

    Bergy : very funny!

    The new tax credit is important to me. I don't believe DX qualifies, only water to air does at this time. Also, my soil is acidic which would work wonders on the copper.

    I have proposals for all three of the brands you mentioned. One of the installers is a master dealer, another is checking with his rep. for advice. I even tracked down the area rep for one in my quest for help; unfortunately, his person is the one we have misgivings about.
  10. Palace GeoThermal

    Palace GeoThermal Well-Known Member Industry Professional Forum Leader

    Horizontal can just as or more efficient than vertical.

    My own loop is proof of that. We have about finished the heating season, my EWT never dropped below 40°.

    It is all about feet of pipe in the ground.

    Good Luck sunnyflies.
  11. engineer

    engineer Well-Known Member Industry Professional Forum Leader

    But your horizontal loop extends most of the way to the Arizona border, right?

    My 10% SWAG was based on theoretical max efficiency edge that vertical has, assuming a large borefield.
  12. Palace GeoThermal

    Palace GeoThermal Well-Known Member Industry Professional Forum Leader

    True.....all I wanted to point out is that you don't have to go vertical to be efficient.

    Even my oversized loop cost less than having 4 vertical holes ( the minimum) would have cost.
  13. sunnyflies

    sunnyflies Member Forum Leader

    Palacegeo, thank you for responding!

    Who figured the footage you needed? While I can not go quite as far as a neighboring state's border, as Engineer impishly implies you have, I can put in a sizable loop ;)

    Which kind of horizontal did you put in, pipes or coils? How deep are they 5', 6' , 7' ? Did you put it in yourself ? Or get someone else, a plumber or a well digger? I would sure appreciate any answers you could give me.

    I'm not getting far. I have been trying to get the Waterfurnace area rep to speak to one possible installer, but they have been playing phone tag for days. I am about to call the WF guy again myself to push it along. The installer did speak to Florida HP's local rep who frankly did not know anything about putting in a horizontal loop. He only knew about two closed loops being put in, both vertical. I asked the installer to please have the rep check directly with Florida for information.

    I feel as if I am living in the dark ages around here.
  14. Palace GeoThermal

    Palace GeoThermal Well-Known Member Industry Professional Forum Leader


    My loop was designed by the dealer. This was before I knew anything about geothermal.

    You can see pictures of my loop here.

    Do you know the heat load of your house? The soil type? If you can me a few details I can approximate your loop design.
  15. engineer

    engineer Well-Known Member Industry Professional Forum Leader

    We're on the same page - horizontal is gonna be the way to go if land permits.
  16. gabby

    gabby Member Industry Professional Forum Leader

    Hang in there.

    When it comes to Geo you have to be specific about all the things asked, man.ual J, location (heat zone or cool zone), type of soil between 6 and 8 foot depths, moisture content, gravel, rock, clay, sand, etc. These determine which closed loop system is best for you.

    I could use two 200' wells for my home in Ohio...the one I'm trying to build in Houston reqiures 6 300' wells or 11,000 feet of horizontal loop. I went through 4 contractors, one Geo engineer designer, and tormented all these guys to get the correct answers.

    The one geo installer I found doesn't pay his suppliers, thus leans are placed on the home owner. You find someone who knows what he is doing and he turns out to be a crook...welcome to finding a contractor.

    Never assume anything in this field...it is too critical to use ballpark numbers for wells, loop length, or anything else. Adding spray foam to seal leakage can more than pay for itself and may even reduce your overall heating and cooling loads, thus the system size you need.
  17. sunnyflies

    sunnyflies Member Forum Leader

    The soil below 4' is sand here on Long Island, NY, which was formed from glacial run off. Very few rocks, those that are present are always rounded from wear and generally small, largest being potato sized. No gravel is present. The sand, when I've seen it, is usually somewhat moist, never bone dry, as we are a coastal location and get regular rains. Water is plentiful below ground starting at about 20'.

    The one manual J study I have so far seems sketchy, but I may not be understanding it. It seems to be calling for a GHP system with a winter design of 17º and summer of 91º for my 2400 sq ft house, which is split evenly over two floors (1200 up and down). We do get temps down into the single digits occasionally and above 91º, so I am concerned. It mentions only one fireplace - I have seven, but most have flues that are blocked off. It says I have a "loose" construction type which is true; however, I do plan to add more insulation in the attic and recaulk all the windows and doors. Finally, it recommends two separate 3 ton systems, one for each floor. Somehow this seems excessive based on what I see others getting.

    No one I have spoken to has a geologist on staff or on call, not even the engineers. Everyone seems to simply want to put in two wells, an up and a down, in an open loop system because that is what they have always done.

    I looked into BPI certified builders in my area, as by using one I might qualify for a state tax program; but, I have not found the listings that popped up on both BPI's and on my utility company's site to be of much help. One was a hardwood flooring company which clearly has jumped on the geo bandwagon for $$$$. Of the others listed, some tried to scare me away from geo and into buying a fossil fuel system from themselves. One is the guy who gave me the proposal above, and no one I know has ever heard of the remaining few. I suspect they just jumped into the Geo business with very little experience.
  18. geo fan

    geo fan Member Forum Leader

    DX does qualify as it just about all of them are energy star rated
  19. Rgausman

    Rgausman Member

    SunnyFlies, Contact John Thulin. He has been in the geo business for over 10 years now and is the Hydron Module rep for the NorthEast.

    Scandia Contractors, Inc.
    PO Box 2538
    Southampton, NY 11969
    E-mail: [email:2hukm1ez]ligeoguy@optonline.net[/email:2hukm1ez]
    Phone: (631) 259-3374
    Scandia Geothermal
    Represents: CT, ME, MA, NH, RI, VT, NY

    He told me almost every one on Long Island does open loop pump & dump because of the high water level and water above 500' is non-potable due to surface contamination.
    Where on Long Island are you located?

    Bob G.
  20. gabby

    gabby Member Industry Professional Forum Leader

    I have run enough manual J calculations to know you can vary 2 tons more or less by the tightness of a home, as well as what square footage of windows are inline with the sun. 2400 square feet in Ohio can vary from 3 to 5 ton based on size and tightness. You have to size for heat over cool, meaning you will be oversized for coolness. A two stage can offset these extremes where a 5 ton coasting can be the equivalent of a 3.5 ton system in the summer, but deliver the heat extraction needed for 95% of heat load.

    A two story, (raised ranch being a pain in the butt along with a split-level) are extremely difficult to heat or cool because of convection, heat rising, cool dropping. It can be done with one unit, but not as well as two separate units (most cases---always exceptions). The point being if you prioritize insulation reducing losses, you could probably go lower in the unit sizes while maintaing a comfortable environment.

    Pipe is cheaper than wells and it sounds as if your location is ideal for a horizontal system, thus a reduced cost over drilling wells. Humidity is a concern if you are close to water, thus you want a system that runs almost all the time, rather than one that short cycles leaving your home with a high moisture content....unless you are trying to grow moss inside your home.

    Good luck.

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