Pennsylvania Proposal for geothermal in SE PA

Discussion in 'Quotes and Proposals' started by cwb124, Jun 3, 2016.

  1. mrrxtech

    mrrxtech Member

    I put in a 4 Ton Trane Geothermal Unit with closed horizontal loop due to having enough room to run the loop around the property. I used a propane log with blower fan in the fireplace as a backup.

    A single vertical Geothermal Unit sized correctly or oversized for winter could do the job, but when the Geothermal has issues you'll be in the cold, so you'll need a reliable backup. Electricity is going up every year while there is a glut in Propane from Ohio due to Natural Gas Liquids being taken from wells without payment. Propane is one of 5 components of Natural Gas Liquids which will be plentiful for the rest of the century. I worked for an electric company, they always have plans on how to get more out of each state to feed their ceo/king's greed.

    Using a Vertical Geothermal Unit will fit into your existing whole house duct work and the Freon side comes sealed and untouched from the factory eliminating leaks that could result from installing a split system. In my opinion, the less people that touch the Freon side the better.

    The above Quote leaves the most expensive part of the install Open with no specifications or price.
    I can hear an unethical Loop Install individual telling you "You do want the Geothermal hooked up to a loop don't you?". I got this quote from a Septic System installer after he owned my permit to install the system, and had put in the tanks. Now he wanted more money over the agreed upon price to put in the pipe to connect the house to the septic. These people do exist, so you need to have What You Want & Need in WRITING or suffer the consequence of running into one of these contractors.

    If you have a source of water for an open loop system use it, that's why your friend is happy with his geothermal. A closed loop will cool down in the winter as the temperatures & snow covers the horizontal loop with no Sun to warm the ground, decreasing the efficiency of your Unit. A few winters back we were all having problems heating our homes with a closed loop system.

    If you need a closed loop system using drilled wells, get a design and estimate in writing before putting in the Geothermal Unit. If you can afford the loop and continue with the install, have the loop installer tie into the geothermal Unit. It makes sense to me that the loop be complete outside and inside the house and hooked up to the Unit by the one company.

    Specify the Geothermal Unit using the Company name such as Trane, Carrier, Water Furnace and model number designator that defines all components to be included in the Unit, such as a Desuperheater Hot Water, material the water heat exchanger will be made of, Tonnage, Single or Two Stage compressor, then be prepared to wait for the SPECIFIED Unit to be built or located, accept no substitutes. I waited 2 months for a Carrier 2 Stage 3 Ton Desuperheater unit, but I got what I researched and paid for.

    Have someone help you understand & specify what you want & expect when the job is completed and Put It In Writing. You could be paying for a Mercedes after the install is complete, you deserve to get your moneys worth so specify, specify, specify. If you don't specify what you want and have an agreed upon price in writing, you are to blame for what you trusted others to take care of.

    Once you have one detailed estimate, go ahead and get a few more, you might find someone who cares about their customers and goes out of their way to make your system work, AS SPECIFIED IN THE CONTRACT.
    I built a house in stages using various contractors and I know the good, the bad and the ugly of hiring a contractor.
    Last edited: Jun 20, 2016
  2. docjenser

    docjenser Well-Known Member Industry Professional Forum Leader

    Wonder why you have one after another nightmare story to tell when it comes to all your contractors, and why you are going through so many? For some reasons I don't have those issues and work together well with all my trades working for me, or with me.

    Certainly the brand and kind of heat pump should be specified in the contract, and also some of the the design details of the loop, but every good company should have the liberty to change some of the design depending on ground conditions. It happens frequently that we add 1-2 loop circuits when we find dry sand or other unfavorable soil conditions which we have to compensate for.

    Every heating system can fail, including your furnace, and you usually do not put in a back up heat system for the unlikely event. It makes no sense to install an entire propane system for high upfront cost which you then also have to maintain. Which is the reason geo units usually have a cheap and maintenance free backup system, which can or cannot be used also as supplement heat. If designed as supplement heat it is usually an economical choice, namely that it is only running for some hours per year and is cheaper to install and to operate than a larger heat pump. So installing an additional propane system as backup is the worst option.

    While open systems working well, there are conceptual disadvantages. Much higher pumping power to overcome the static pressure gradient, and lesser reliability and higher maintenance. While a closed loop dips further down in the winter while an open system remains stable, it is not because of outside temps, snow cover or lack of sun exposure. It is because it is connected to a lesser amount of ground, and there is resistance in the heat transfer (pipe wall, ground etc). If some one had problems a few winters back, his or her system was not correctly designed with the capacity matching the load, but is was not a matter of open versus closed.

    And I would always choose a company who owns the design, and provides a turn key install. A customer should never go through dealing with a loop installer or who does the connections.
  3. Stickman

    Stickman Active Member Forum Leader

    cwb124 - I thought you might benefit from hearing from a homeowner with regard to the above statement. I have a CM 4 ton split with closed loop, and a 15kw aux heat strip. I assure you that on the coldest of the Polar Vortex days, my not-too-tight 1954 split level home on Long Island conditioned with one unit maintained my set point temp of at least 72F (i think we may have kicked it up to 74F). Granted I got shots of aux throughout those cold spells, but that is how my system was designed to work. I'll have to check my logs later to see what my EWTs looked like.
  4. mrrxtech

    mrrxtech Member

    As Stickman suggested, you'll need Aux Heat if you use a closed loop. Use propane if you don't have natural gas. Electricity will be out of sight soon enough with Generation, Transmission, Fuel Costs, Stability Ryders, Future Generation, Yadda Yadda and Administrative fees.

    If you have the water for an open loop system the water will stay close to 55 degrees in the coldest winter, allowing your Geothermal Unit to operate efficiently all year.
  5. urthbuoy

    urthbuoy Well-Known Member Industry Professional Forum Leader

    You "design" for auxiliary heat, you don't "need" it. You can design for 200% of the heating load if you want (just as conventional does).
  6. Stickman

    Stickman Active Member Forum Leader

    Err, no.
  7. docjenser

    docjenser Well-Known Member Industry Professional Forum Leader

    No sir. You again could not be more wrong.
    The need for Aux heat is a matter of capacity of the unit installed, not a matter of EWT in a closed versus open loop.
    The annual amount of electricity needed is not very much, usually in the amount of $50-100, but can save you expensive gas equipment to buy and maintain. However, there is more and more a consideration that if we all switch over to geo, which we will have to do in heat dominated climate if we are serious about getting rid of fossil fuels, that for peak demand reasons we cannot design with aux heat, otherwise the grid will collapse.
    Indeed the capacity of a geo heat pump is higher with 50F than with 30F EWT, but it is a matter of design to ensure that the capacity is high enough at 30F EWT. Efficiently wise open loops are not running more efficient due to higher pumping costs, especially with variable speed equipment.
  8. mrrxtech

    mrrxtech Member

    Here's a fact, I purchased a 3 Ton 2 Stage Carrier Geothermal Heat pump with desuperheater for around $4,000 from a local Heating & Cooling company.

    If my land had been an acre in a neighborhood, I would have needed wells drilled to act as my ground loop.

    In 1995 installing 3 wells for a Geothermal Heat Pump was estimated to cost $8,000 based on an open house I attended in a neighborhood where Geothermal Heat Pumps were being used for heating & cooling. So how much would those wells cost today?

    It makes no sense to contract a Geothermal Heat Pump install for an agreed upon price, then leave the loop price open. I would contract the loops first after knowing the specifications & price for the Geothermal Unit I wanted to purchase.
  9. docjenser

    docjenser Well-Known Member Industry Professional Forum Leader

    Or you cold simple go to a reputable company and have it all done turnkey for a fixed price.
  10. mrrxtech

    mrrxtech Member

    That brings to mind the $43,000 quote a retired Heating & AC Company owner got to install a geothermal unit in his 2 story addition to his home. He had a pond and a spring so he was in good shape for doing his own install. I had the HVAC Tin Smith looking for work after his power plant job dried up so he could have made the duct work.
    It was almost as if the quote turned him against ever using geothermal. Apparently he had never done a geothermal install while owning the company.
    If you remember Maurice from Canada paid $41,000 for his install.
    I've heard of geothermal estimates from $35,000 up, with Water Furnace always leading the way with the highest quote. My Brother's neighbor had a $35,000 quote for a geothermal and his neighbor lives on a lake which is plenty of heat sink for a geothermal unit.
  11. docjenser

    docjenser Well-Known Member Industry Professional Forum Leader

    So what are you trying to tell me? I just finished a $2 million dollar geo install. So what?
    $41,000 can be very cheap for what he is getting, or can be very expensive. Having a pond and a spring does not make geo nessessarily less expensive.
    Maurice got a bad design and bad install judging from the pictures. I agree.

    I have many quotes and installs which exceed $35,000. The question is what kind of system you are getting for it.

    You can sit here all night and wine about a new Mercedes ( or even better a TESLA) costing $80,000 when a used Chevy on eBay is $5,000.
    As long as no one knows what it is for this kind of exercise is useless. You judge a lot from hearsay, which undermines your credibility.
  12. mrrxtech

    mrrxtech Member

    Heating and Cooling a home isn't what I consider a Luxury, a Mercedes or Tesla is a Luxury.

    More home owners could install geothermal if they checked prices and then found an installer that makes a fair profit from materials & workmanship, rather than overcharging for the install.

    Each example was either from the home owner, the contractor working on a geothermal at an open house, or my Brother telling me about his neighbors Water Furnace quote, I don't see any of these sources as being hearsay.

    In the past I've watched several shows dealing with Solar, Wind and Geothermal installed in homes, and the Geothermal install prices given were outrageous. It's possible the home owners were Millionaires, but the install cost vs equipment installed didn't add up to the materials and labor in my opinion.

    I know that what I am saying to you is like going to a Ford Dealership and telling them their F250 Trucks are over priced at $50,000 plus. They would laugh at me and say what about it. "If you don't buy them someone else will". Heard that once and walked away, someone else bought the vehicle.
  13. urthbuoy

    urthbuoy Well-Known Member Industry Professional Forum Leader

    Hard to sit back and bite my tongue in this when the word overcharging is used. What margins are fair? On a 10-person/day instal or one with radiant work taking longer, am I allowed to make more than 20% on a $40,000 job? I know what I won't do a job for. I know at what margins I'd rather just stay home with my kids frankly.

    Yes, the numbers can add up. Put in a high-efficiency conventional system and see what that adds up to as well.

    Or go chop wood. Use PVC interior plumbing. Or electric baseboard without ventilation. All valid (but cheap) methods.

    I think of it more simply - it costs money to have someone do what you can't. If you can do it, then go ahead save yourself some coin. I can change the fuel filter on my E350 diesel or I can pay someone else to do it. And when I pay someone else to do it that $15 filter is likely $200. I'd like those kind of margins myself.

    I'd replace the word hearsay with anecdotal. For all of us. Only the professionals on here have larger data sets that we use to interpolate from. You have a small data set that you are extrapolating from.
  14. Dinnerbellmel

    Dinnerbellmel New Member

    Many times the cheap comes out expensive. I've discovered in this industry that it is best to work with experienced, knowledgeable and reputable businesses. Telling posters and visitors of this forum to do anything less is not in their best interests...period. The average consumer shouldn't try to do this themselves or subcontract part of it out. That's when you get fingerpointing.

    Geothermal Exchange really needs another banner to add under peoples names like "Consumer" "Homeowner" or "Not an Industry Professional" so newbies (like me) and visitors of this forum can better parse through the advice that is given here.
  15. mrrxtech

    mrrxtech Member

    My house is cool right now using DIY Geothermal, that's all that matters.

    Every aspect of life has good and bad running through it. The Bad would be "being taken to the cleaners" by someone you trusted. It hurts when your trust in your fellow man is destroyed by someone paid to do a job who short changed you. We've all been there, it's a place you don't want to be a 2nd time. Not having a good contract will make you a contractors bitch eventually. You can learn from your mistakes, and take action with your State Attorney General to recover any obvious theft, which I've done. Or if someone is trying to pull a fast one like a Realtor once did, by refusing to write a contract for a Real Estate transaction between myself and her Uncle. This was a violation of Ohio law which I warned her that she couldn't do. But she refused to write the contract and used a piece of notebook paper with no signatures as an addendum to the contract. I cancelled the deal and turned her in to the state. Who do you think she was representing, me or her Uncle? The State agreed she was wrong and told her that next time she loses her license.

    Being age >18, I've seen a lot, but I learn the first time so I have developed a strategy for ensuring I can trust my fellow man. Get it in writing, it always works.

    Contractors hate me, but that's better than me hating what my contractor did due to my ignorance.

    Like Teddy Roosevelt said "Walk Softly But Carry A Big Stick".
  16. docjenser

    docjenser Well-Known Member Industry Professional Forum Leader

    I really don't get it.
    None of my customers I view as a "contractors bitch", nor do I hate any of my customers. You displayed a significant lack of knowledge here, and should not give advise to people here, since many of your statements are misleading. Again, I wonder why you have so many bad experiences with so many contractors.

    I would not consider Tesla a Luxury but a certain way of live. The bottom line is that you have the choice, and you get what you are willing to pay for, but you can also get a cheaper product. But then stop wining about more expensive products, in what others see value, just because you do not.

    " Brother telling me about his neighbors Water Furnace quote..." is as much hearsay as it can get.
  17. engineer

    engineer Well-Known Member Industry Professional Forum Leader

    We need to stop feeding our troll.

    "Geothermal Exchange really needs another banner to add under peoples names like "Consumer" "Homeowner" or "Not an Industry Professional" so newbies (like me) and visitors of this forum can better parse through the advice that is given here."

    Perhaps "troll" would suffice?

    "Contractors hate me"...Now that's an enviable status!

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