Newbie question - converting heat pump to geothermal

Discussion in 'General Discussions' started by Numbawunfela, Dec 19, 2008.

  1. Numbawunfela

    Numbawunfela New Member

    Who is going to the AHR EXPO in Chicago?

    I went in NYC last year and had a great time.

    Nothing better that a few hundred thousand square feet of floor space crammed with large mechanical equipment!!
  2. rick_it_2004

    rick_it_2004 New Member

    Hi Guys

    I have a heat pump system were the external heat exchange is coming to the end of its life but the internal parts are in good order. I am considering putting a six line closed loop system in. To do "conceptually" this I need to trench, lay in the pipe and connect to the existing ports that currently go to the heat exchanger.

    I'm sort of struggling to explain why I'm being quoted upto $30,000, I can get a guy in to did the trench in two days for about $500, what else is contributing to this outragous price? By comparison, a heat exchanger costs about $4000, and I pay about $2000 a year for heating/cooling.

    Your opionins are gratefully received!

    Regards, Richard
  3. mseifert

    mseifert Member

    How big are your trenches. Where I am, $500 barely cover's one day's work for a skilled driver with equipment (8 hours x $60-80/hr). My 3 trenches were 6 feet deep, 3 feet wide and 400 feet long. It took 3-4 days and cost me about $3,000 to dig and fill - perhaps because my terrain was not ideal.

    Yes the equipment is expensive. My quotes for just the equipment installed were $15-18k for a 5 ton system (not including trenching). There aren't that many geo systems out there percentage wise. Perhaps cost will come down when it becomes a standard "appliance".
  4. urthbuoy

    urthbuoy Well-Known Member Industry Professional Forum Leader

    Yeh $500 just gets a mini excavator for a day. If you can get those rates, ask to use your guy and have that taken out of the quote.

    And keep in mind, the day it costs the same as a conventional system is the day everybody goes geothermal.
  5. rick_it_2004

    rick_it_2004 New Member

    The digging out is by hiring a digger and having a skilled friend do the work over a weekend. I live on well managed farmland so there is a good depth of soil.

    I read urthbuoy's answer to be "yer, they are gouging until the market gets bigger", that isn't very encouraging.

    Can I do a straight swap between between the existing heat exchanger and the geothermal loop? Where *is* the cost? What is the price of 400 feet of pipe? As it stands the maths do not work out at all.

    It is the same for solar power, though in that case I can see cost in the production of the solar panels. Tthe maths for those means they will have reached their end-of-life three years before they pay for themselves.
  6. teetech

    teetech Member Forum Leader

    May I ask just what this existing heat exchanger is?
  7. urthbuoy

    urthbuoy Well-Known Member Industry Professional Forum Leader

    Nobody is gouging at my end of things. We have a mature industry around here with established companies competing. The client benefits.

    Suppliers get a big chunk of our money.

    My comment is more along the lines of everybody going on about "why is it more expensive?". It will never be as cheap as conventional because we have to build the fuel supply.

    400' pipe? That's about 1/2 ton's worth. Are you doing open loop?
  8. arkieoscar

    arkieoscar Member

    It's a little more than connecting some pipes. It seems that you have an air source heat pump. The outside unit contains a compressor, controls (both electric and refrigerant) and the refrigerant to air heat exchanger(the fins that surround the box). To convert it to water source, the coil that wraps around the outside is replaced with a water to refrigerant heat exchanger. If you have refrigeration experience (and licensed to handle R22), you can pump out (has to be recovered) the freon charge, braze in the new heat exchanger, charge it back up and then start with the ground source part of it. Then you need the manifold and pumps to circulate the water through it and the pipes that you buried. It's not easy but it can be done.
    You won't have any warranty and we all here have seen how great they are.
  9. NoForeignOil

    NoForeignOil New Member

    To me it is ironic that I was just thinking about the possibility of doing that. But, it did not take me long to decide on the 30% tax rebate. We just finished a 300' by 6' trench today. Going with a climatemaster I will be able to deduct the trench and pipe. I do not know if you could deduct the trenching costs if you were using even a new air to air heat pump.
  10. mseifert

    mseifert Member

    My 5 ton unit has 4000 feet of pipe. Pipe plus installation was roughly broken out to be $7,880. I don't know if this was a true breakout or how much pipe really costs but you will always save a bundle if you do it yourself.

    The 30% rebate makes the $20k system "only" $14k and so a 6 year payback for me.
    I can't tell if this is said sarcastically. I hope the warranty is worth something!
  11. dgbair

    dgbair Just a hobby Forum Leader

  12. rick_it_2004

    rick_it_2004 New Member

    arkieoscar is correct, and your answer is very interesting. I was thinking that I could take the current refrigerant (freon or whatever) and just pump it around the closed loop, clearly this isn't what is done, thanks. I would never consider doing things like handling freon myself, I know where to draw the line between DIY and getting the experts in! I also know experts cost, I don't expect to get knowlecge for free.

    From what I see from this and replies from other forums, there is obvious cost, digging the trench, the pipe (copper or PER), manifolds, etc., but the quoted cost is still signifinactly higher than what can be justified. It appears that after government rebates the cost comes down to something closer to what is expected, which means the industry, be it manufacturers, installers, retailers, whatever, has just jacked its prices by whatever the government chucks in unfortunately.

    Since the aim of the work is to provide a quieter solution to the air exchanger I have already with lower electricity costs, and that these aims may well not be met anyway, I don't see a point to going to geothermal and instead will just change the air exchanger.

    Thanks for all your input, it has been informative.

    Regards, Richard
  13. alfhild

    alfhild New Member

    $6000 geo system

    In june 2003, I put in our 4 ton geo--I rented a trencher over the weekend and installed 4 600 ft horizontal loops--the pipe was the cheapest black 3/4" water pipe that menards sells--I bought it in 600 ft coils, such that I would have no splices--I went 4ft deep--I busted thru the foundation and tied to 2 manifolds--this way if I had any leaks they were inside--the heat pump is a private labled waterfurnace with 2 grundfuse pumps--it was an add-on to our lp gas furnace--the heat pump and A coil installed on our furnace cost $5280 the loop including the trencher,pipe,manifold and antifreeze cost $6-700--total $6000--it paid for itself in 3 years--added ~$20k to the value of our house and we are now into the 8th heating season--we live in northern ill (-1 degree this morning)--When we installed the geo, I was 64 and the wife 62

    By the way--anyone with the room can easily afford to put in geo--borrowed money is 7%, return on investment is ~20-30% plus the ~20k increase in the market value of the house

    I was talking to a local hvac contractor and asked why they aren't selling more geo's and why they are quoting $16-$18k for the systems---He admitted that the dealers are adding the $3500 rebate to their prices--the customer is basically collecting the rebate for the dealer.
  14. alfhild

    alfhild New Member

    convert heat pump to watersource??

    I have a friend with a York heat pump--He is wondering if he can convert the heat pump to ground source??
  15. AMI Contracting

    AMI Contracting A nice Van Morrison song Industry Professional Forum Leader

    Can it be done? Yes
    Should it (will it pay off)? tougher question.
  16. alfhild

    alfhild New Member

    heat pump to ground source

    it is a york--apparently the model # is E2RCO48SO5A i could not google that model--i suspect that it is a 4ton or perhaps a 5 ton--he lives near springfield,mo
  17. alfhild

    alfhild New Member

    $6000 4 ton geo

    Then I am confused by the huge difference in the cost of my system--The hvac contractor quoted me $5280 (that seemed fair and I didn't try to negotiate the price for a split system installed--I provided a 2400' loop and he installed--he made his profit on the pump--the system has worked for 71/2 seasons---that is a huge difference

    I didn't try to negotiate the price add by admin
    Some people find the removed reference offensive.
    Last edited by a moderator: Jan 17, 2011
  18. Mark Custis

    Mark Custis Not soon. Industry Professional Forum Leader

    What is the true cost

    of doing business? Urthbouy is correct no one in our business is cheating anyone unless they do not do the design work and ensure proper application of the equipment. If my liability Insurance company knew how much they gambled every time I design a "home comfort system", they would canncle my insurance contract. What happens to my workers comp premiums if some "kid" falls in a ditch and gets back filled? Then add, (thank fully never happened to us) what if I under design and the home is to COLD or too WARM?

    I do not advertize except word of mouth, so no cost there. I do have phones, internet, computors, gas, oil, tools paper files and on and on and on. We do great work at a very reasonable cost. We are never the lowest bidder. I can go broke staying home or going ice fishing.
  19. SNoland

    SNoland New Member

    I'm going to "Bump" this forum again as it has some age and maybe somebody will have some updated information. I live in an older house with a very old Trane heat pump system. Along with the old house comes old windows and doors that are under-insulated so i know what I'm up against there already. But, after a long cold snap a few weeks ago, I started looking into ways to make my old a/c unit more efficient. I thought about getting a small wood fireplace for the basement to help radiate some cheaper heat through the house but it would be nearly impossible to realistically get a wood stove into the location of the existing chimney with where the heat pump system is sitting. Then I started thinking about geothermal and how cool it would be to have that technology for my house. So my question is, Has anybody come up with a good parts list on how to convert their outdoor condenser into a geothermal heat exchange system? I dont believe that this would be all that hard to get all the parts rounded up for around $1000 and really save some energy. I'm no professional in the HVAC industry but I'm driven to learn about it as an electrical engineer with a good mechanical and "redneck" background.

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