Quote conflicts

Discussion in 'Quotes and Proposals' started by MrEnte, Feb 18, 2013.

  1. MrEnte

    MrEnte Member

    I have gone through over $2200 in oil this winter in Germantown, Maryland. (And this has been a mild winter) So after much internet searching we have come to the conclusion that Geothermal is the way to go for us. After reading reviews, & other internet searches, we have decided that we would like to get a Waterfurnace 7 series. I went to the waterfurnace website & found certified installers in my area. So I got quotes from all ten of them. (I only work part time & I have lots of time to evaluate) Anyway I have narrowed my installers to 2 different companies. Company A is recommending a 3 ton unit. He say's that my 8" x 22" duct work can't handle the 1800cfm required (according to the installation manual) for the 4 ton unit. Company B installer is recommending a 4 ton unit. He said that company A was blowing smoke up my butt. According to the install manual the 3 ton requires 1500cfm airflow & the 4 ton requires 1800cfm. HOW MUCH CAN MY CURRENT 8" x 22" DUCT WORK HANDLE?
  2. JFLame

    JFLame Member

    8x22 can flow something like 1000 cfm.

    With that said, what did the other 8 installers have to say? Usually the way to size a heat pump is to determine the heat loss of the home and match the pump to that. If the duct work is not able to carry the required air then that is another issue entirely.

    Think of it another way - say your house really needs a 6 ton heat pump based on heat loss, but your ducts can only support a 3 ton. Would you really put in a heat pump that can only heat your house halfway? Or would you fix your ducts such that you can fully heat your house with the right sized heat pump? Please share more details of how you arrived at the 2 remaining installers and what your house's heat load calc is.
  3. engineer

    engineer Well-Known Member Industry Professional Forum Leader

    If I got wind that someone was getting quotes from 10 contractors, were I one of them, my initial offering would have been budgetary rather than a hard bid. The field needs to narrow a bit before I'll commit the time needed for a detailed proposal.

    The capacity of a given duct cross section depends only partly on its dimensions. There are several other variables, and the question can't be answered from afar.

    I would give most weight to a company that made an effort both in regards to the heating and cooling load as well as the ducts' capacity as installed. It is generally our goal to install the smallest possible system, and we often identify envelope improvements that bring the size down a ton or more. These considerations add ultimate value, and since contractors who do these things do not lie thick upon the ground, we do not find ourselves bidding against 9 others.
  4. docjenser

    docjenser Well-Known Member Industry Professional Forum Leader

    I would stress that all 10 companies together that provided estimates probably have more hours into this project than it would it take to install your system. You want to be treated with all the courtesy and respect, but that goes both ways. You ask 10 people to give your their best effort and prepare a design and and estimate for you, and 9 out of 10 will not get paid for putting all the effort forth to you. And because you don't show that respect for the time and effort of others, I would really would not like to put my best effort forward and design and install the best geosystem possible, for the best price possible, going the extra mile in order to do so.

    Now, your oil usage indicates not more than a 3 ton heating load on your house, however, the 7 series still is nominally sized for cooling but puts out more heat out per ton than conventional 2 stage units. If you have used $2200 worth of oil this winter thus far, so with a total winter usage of $3600 and an 85% efficient furnace in your climate, your load should not be above 40KBTU/h, usually served well by a 3 ton heatpump. Like I said, the 7 series 3 ton actually behaves more like a 4 ton in heating mode. Unless there is something you did not tell us, you don't need a 4 ton, 7 series or 2 stage heatpump.
  5. MrEnte

    MrEnte Member

    Thanks for all of the feedback.

    docjenser - It may appear from your perspective that 10 quotes is a lack of respect, but I 100% disagree. I made it clear to each company that I was getting other quotes and told them that I just wanted a unit sized appropriately to make my home comfortable. So they knew that they were competing for my business. Knowing that, they should provide the best offer to earn my business. Next to the purchase of my home, this will be the single most expensive purchase that we will make. So I should make an informed decision so that I get the best Geo unit that can afford.
    It has been very educational for me because I seem to learn something from each visit. (Remember, I knew nothing about geo or HVAC one month ago. Now I know just enough to be dangerous :) Had I only taken 2 or 3 quotes, I would have not even known to consider the duct work size & none of the 1[SUP]st[/SUP] 3 even suggested a 3 ton system (they suggested 4 Ton) or an energy audit. Nor did they mention that I didn't have a return on the lower level of my split level home. I know 10 quotes might be a bit much but I have no regrets.

    Things I’m looking for: be on time (one was 1 1/2 hours late and messed up the rest of my day. My 9 month pregnant wife did not appreciate it), be knowledgeable (surprisingly 3 of the companies seemed to lack in this area. It felt like I was telling them about geothermal), experience: some were new to the geothermal game while others knew very little if anything at all about the 7 series Waterfurnace. Also hygiene (One guy’s breath was so bad I could not focus on what he was saying)
    It seems like the quotes range from $26k - $46K. While price is a factor, it is not necessarily the biggest factor. Besides the things that I mentioned above I am looking for referrals, financing offered (12mo same as cash), customer service (do I have to deal with the driller or will they handle it? One company even offered to handle all of the paperwork for all rebates & incentives) & guarantees.

    Thanks for the envelope & heat loss advice. I am having an energy audit done to find the leaks. I also plan to foam insulate the exterior walls & add about 1 foot of insulation to the attic. With a $2k insulation improvement incentive from our power company, this will be cheaper in the long run than buying a bigger unit.

    I think anyone considering Geo should read this forum. You guys seem to be very knowledgeable. I enjoy reading all of threads & I have learned quite a bit
  6. JFLame

    JFLame Member

    You assume everybody does the same level of detailed analysis that you do. I received more than one quote that was written on a sheet of notebook paper using rule-of-thumb principles after about a half hour walk though of my house. Only two of the 5 folks that came through my house actually did some detailed design and calculations. I can see how you could go through 10 estimates pretty quickly.
  7. AMI Contracting

    AMI Contracting A nice Van Morrison song Industry Professional Forum Leader

    Honestly I would assume few people do the same level of analysis as me.
    Regarding 8X22 duct, if it is return air side it is not compliant with the international residential code requirement of 6"sq duct/1,000 BTU's.

    Most of my customers appreciate my dirty hands and work shirt. They understand I'm a working mechanic not a professional salesman. Not sure about my breath (no complaints).

    A customer that already picked out the model they want before I get there suggests psuedo (geo) education and higher maintenance. I grow weary of un-educating the occasional cyber-geo-expert. Worse is sorting out disparate opinions of 9 of my competitors as 7 of them probably started in the biz 10 minutes ago.
  8. Calladrilling

    Calladrilling Member Industry Professional Forum Leader

    Jeez, I never knew us drillers are that bad to deal with. We offer real estimates for drilling not loose leaf or stick-ums, and I may be a in work clothes with boots on but I don't dont believe my breath is too offensive either.
    Maybe us Drillers are easier to work with than you HVAC guys. LOL!
    I'm thinking homeowners should hire a driller first, then us drillers will "deal with the HVAC guys".
    Last edited: Feb 24, 2013
  9. Palace GeoThermal

    Palace GeoThermal Well-Known Member Industry Professional Forum Leader

    Well said....well said :cool:
  10. Mark Custis

    Mark Custis Not soon. Industry Professional Forum Leader

    I am laughing so hard I can barely type.

  11. Mark Custis

    Mark Custis Not soon. Industry Professional Forum Leader


    If I worked for Webber Drilling, would I need to tuck in my shirttails? I was looking at all the Webber TV stuff today.

  12. Palace GeoThermal

    Palace GeoThermal Well-Known Member Industry Professional Forum Leader

    Mark, Yes you would need to tuck em in and get an eye patch
  13. docjenser

    docjenser Well-Known Member Industry Professional Forum Leader

    You must understand that the detailed analyses are sometimes nothing but a sales and pony show. The software is fed by one or 2 parameters, usually design load and equipment selection, and then spills out an impressive looking detailed analysis. While it helps with the design, it is only as good as the algorithm it was programmed with. In our location, the software uses weather data from Buffalo International airport, but none of my customers actually live at the airport. However, bin weather data differs by 40% within a 60 mile radius. So these detailed analyses go right out of the window here.
    The software also assumes 49F for ground temperature, but nowadays we measure 54.2F right now. Plus I have seen manual J being off by 100%. All the softwares have the flaw that unit size affects the ground loop size, which is not the case. Ground loop size is more affected by the amount of heat you pull out of the ground, which does not change wether I put in a 3 or 4 ton system.

    I can go on and on and on like this, but a pro might walk through your house for 10 min and no matter what any software will tell him knows what he has to do to make this work best for you.
    One of my customers once paid $2000 for an engineering firm to design the loopfield (8 tons, 12 pages of detailed design work). After 200' they hit a large cavity, the old design flew out of the window and the new design was redone on the back of a napkin in 10 min to save the day. A good pro has feedback from the systems built, check out if he monitors their systems and can backup their claim that he knows what works and what not.
  14. docjenser

    docjenser Well-Known Member Industry Professional Forum Leader

    Being 90 min late without calling you up is no excuse, and having bad breath is not either. At the end of the day you are dealing with customers. My quote does not change, wether I compete versus nobody or 10 guys. You mention that you want to get the best geo unit you can afford, and you are looking at the 7 series. But it depends on the system design and the quality of the installation wether this 7 series runs at a COP of 5 or a COP of 3.

  15. Mark Custis

    Mark Custis Not soon. Industry Professional Forum Leader


    Relax. A fool convinced against his will is of the same opinion still.

  16. docjenser

    docjenser Well-Known Member Industry Professional Forum Leader

    I am relaxed. I am just delivering the inconvenient truth.
  17. AMI Contracting

    AMI Contracting A nice Van Morrison song Industry Professional Forum Leader

    Exactly right and if other systems are installed right op cost savings likely will suggest the series 7 doesn't add up as the best pick in many cases. That is where the uneducation of the consumer comes in.
    Last edited: Feb 26, 2013
  18. docjenser

    docjenser Well-Known Member Industry Professional Forum Leader

    The 7 series starts to gain on me. I was first skeptical given its high price, but after putting some of them in, oh boy, they run smooth! We charge about $4000 more for the 7 series and the variable speed flowcenter, so after tax credits the customer pay roughly $2800 more, which is out of pocket about 12% higher overall costs. So for 12% higher system costs you get about 22% improved efficiency for life, not too bad.
  19. AMI Contracting

    AMI Contracting A nice Van Morrison song Industry Professional Forum Leader

    One of my problems is always cost v benefit for my customers with cheap electricity. In some cases a 22% efficiency increase may still make the pay back on that unit over 10 years. I'll look forward to the supporting data.
    Last edited: Feb 27, 2013
  20. MrEnte

    MrEnte Member

    Ooops Sorry!didn't mean to insult the drilling community. I just want a one-stop-shop. I prefer to only pay one bill and I like the synergy between the drillers & installers it makes me feel a bit more comfortable when they work together. BTW, drillers are definitely easier to work with than the halitosis estimator. I was so happy that he accepted the coffee that I offered. It at least masked part of the smell.

    And have I become a cyber-geo expert? Hummm ..... Maybe but I'm still a sucker for the installer that knows his shiznit. The advice on the waterfurnace series 7 came from the estimators. The internet just confirmed it.

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