Some Geothermal questions....NJ

jess111October 4, 2008

Hi everybody.

I'm VERY loosely considering replacing my HVAC system with GT, but I can't really seem to understand the pricing or sizing. My heating and AC bills run so high I can't take it anymore. We stll have the original furnace and AC that came with the house when it was built 11 years ago, and they are operable, but not efficient and who knows how much life they have left.

It seems that the incentives in NJ (if I am reading the site correctly) are chump change

Home is about 2600sf at the Jersey Shore, just a few blocks from the bay, but we are elevated enough to have a basement. Is NJ a good area for GT? How many tons do I need? I currently only have 1 zone for heat and AC, but the house is 2 story with lots of open space and 2 story ceilings, so I don't know if I need 1 unit or 2. What kind of pricing am I looking at? I currently have forced air heat and of course the AC so there's ductwork. I have a well for my sprinkler system, so not sure if that can be used for the loop system too. Don't know if it's cheaper to run the surface loops or get wells drilled. Not even sure if I have enough land to do the shallow loops or not. Ugh, this is all confusing. I'm thinking the units I have are going to go sometime in the forseeable future (and I am sure they are builders grade units anyway) so it may be bettter for me to plan now and save some energy in the meantime. My heating unit is natural gas now. I can't afford this nonsense anymore!

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marknmt

I avoided responding to your question earlier because I was hoping the better qualified who read this board might have time, but rather than keep you waiting I'll tell you what I can, based on my limited personal experience.

In order to fully answer your questions somebody's going to have to measure a lot of things and then put pencil to paper (or fingers to keyboard, more likely) and figure out just how much heating/cooling power you need. It will be several tons, I'm sure, but just how many I doubt anybody could guess without investing a lot of time.

An open loop geothermal system has some advantages in that it is relatively inexpensive to install if all you need is a place to discharge the effluent, but may well cost more to run if you need to pump water very far. Our open loop system lifts water 58 feet, and the cost of running the well pump is greater than the cost of running the heat pump. Nevertheless, between the two of them it's still modestly cheaper than heating our house was with gas forced air.

A closed loop system requires a lot of room to install the horizontal loops, and a lot of trenching at a considerable expense. Vertical bores are possible, but drilling wells is not cheap either, expecially if you need very many of them. The DX system is a somewhat different crittur and may be worth your time to investigate, but I can't speak to that.

IF you can afford to dig hundreds of yards of wide, deep trenches and have the space to do so you would surely like the results with a well-designed, properly installed closed-loop geothermal system. It would be very economical to run, probably pretty trouble free, and would keep you comfortable.

You could very easily be looking at middle five figure costs on a deal like this, but it could be more or much less. I have about $12,000 in a three ton Climatemaster Tranquility 27 that was retrofitted into my nearly-100-year-old 1200 sq. ft. stucco here in Western Montana, and that includes electrical upgrade and well drilling- I did a lot of the work myself, with fair results. It replaced a 35 year old natgas forced air unit but retained almost all of the duct work.

Like you we use our well for irrigation. The half-horse motor suffices for one or the other but not both. The well produces enough, but I went to a smaller motor to keep operating costs down. We almost never need to irrigate and run the unit at the same time.

If you have less than $10,000 or so to spend on this endeavor consider getting an energy audit and then doing absolutely everything in your power to insulate and seal before spending a nickel on your furnace upgrade. Well, frankly, do that anyway. A surprisingly modest investment there will pay dividends forever. You'll need less heat, less furnace, less cooling, and so on. You won't need to turn the heat as high to feel comfortable -and your furnace will work less to supply the heat you do need. It'll last longer and need fewer filters, and you'll never feel like you're sitting in a draft.

This is all "Just my thoughts, Just my limited experience". YMMV, and better minds here can give you better answers.

Good luck, and keep at it!

:-)M

    Bookmark   October 6, 2008 at 4:36PM
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big_al_41

Hi Jess
Check out the website for Acadia heat pump, there is a ton of info there....plus be sure to do your own research on them. From what I have read their unit can provide heat down into the 30's. It might be cheaper then a full blown G T system.

I also believe one or two people on this forum have installed this unit. As always research, research.

http://www.gotohallowell.com/whyhallowell.html

Big Al

Here is a link that might be useful: Acadia heat Pump

    Bookmark   October 8, 2008 at 9:38AM
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fsq4cw

Theres a lot of useful info in MarkÂs post.

Consult an accredited IGSHPA installer in your area to answer all your questions and to provide a quote.

By installing geothermal you will be adding more value to you home than ANY other type of system will provide. You will also be purchasing 2/3 of the (renewable) energy to heat your home for the life of the building.

Hallowell HPs are a poor investment in that it is a VERY expensive air-source HP. Mechanical systems in an outdoor environment donÂt last very long compared to geothermal equipment that is wholly housed indoors. Your most expensive Hallowell/Acadia HP will be just another piece of junk that needs to be replaced in 10 ~ 15 years. DonÂt be sucked in by claims of high efficiency; itÂs still sitting outside!

No other space-conditioning equipment has as high a user satisfaction rating or as long a useful lifecycle as geothermal. ThereÂs a reason why more people are designing with and retrofitting with geothermal (and why I have less and less time to post on this site!).

SR

    Bookmark   October 11, 2008 at 1:04AM
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marknmt

Thanks, SR. I try not to overreach (been known to do that!) but it is fun to try to act like my experience might be useful.

FYI, Jess, SR is the resident authority on those DX systems I was careful to avoid talking about. He can provide a wealth of information on this subject and all the GSHP systems.

OSU is close to the home of the Climatemaster people. I like 'em and their stuff, but I do suspect that GSHP cheerleaders gravitate there, so take time to study claims closely.

Good luck,

M

    Bookmark   October 11, 2008 at 4:36PM
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fsq4cw

Mark,

I read your posts. Youre too modest.

Best regards,

Steve

    Bookmark   October 12, 2008 at 1:15AM
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Calladrilling

I know this an old post, but I'll post for others to read. You can use an existing well for open loop system with a second well to dump the water back into. Closed loop is more expensive up front but is more reliable when installed correctly. You can do closed loop system horizontally, or vertically for smaller lots using a drilling rig.
If anybody is interested, my family company installs the loop fields for geothermal system ( open loops, closed loops). We have close relationships with a few IGSHPA certified HVAC contractors too for the heat pump installs.
Www.callahanwelldrilling.com check out website.

    Bookmark   January 27, 2013 at 11:16AM
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sunnyflies

I put in a closed loop geothermal system three years ago and absolutely love it. The loops go down four 285' deep vertical wells. The house has never been so comfortable, if anything it gets too chilly when the A/C is running and I have to turn it up. We leave it at 72º in the winter and forget it.

The best thing about it? NEVER having an oil truck come down our driveway.

    Bookmark   June 10, 2013 at 6:14PM
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sunnyflies

I put in a closed loop geothermal system three years ago and absolutely love it. The loops go down four 285' deep vertical wells. The house has never been so comfortable, if anything it gets too chilly when the A/C is running and I have to turn it up. We leave it at 72º in the winter and forget it.

The best thing about it? NEVER having an oil truck come down our driveway.

    Bookmark   June 10, 2013 at 6:15PM
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