Hvac contractor advice

hoinoyMarch 15, 2013

I am currently planning a 4700 sq ft house with an additional 1500-2000 sq ft basement to be finished in the future. My builder's hvac guy recommends two 3-ton units GSHP (1 for 2nd floor and 1 for first and basement) with 4 zones for $70,000 with drilling ($18,000 included in the price). On the other hand, I went out and received a quote from a much larger hvac company that also does a lot of geothermals with a proposal for two units (one 3-ton unit for the 2nd floor and one 4-ton unit for the basement and first floor) and also 4 zones with a price of $58,000 ($13,000 for drilling).

Both companies are using climate master tranquility 30 and all the duct work and Honeywell thermostats. Both are doing 150 ft per ton drilling. The cheaper proposal actually already includes the desuperheater and buffer tank.

My question is:
It's really no brainier that I should choose the larger company with cheaper prices, right?

Is it common for a buyer to choose his own hvac guy instead of the builders "go to guy" for that big of a price difference?

My builder is a very reputable guy in my area and is very well known. He seems to be a very honest guy, but he prefers to work with someone he knows and he "can be sure they are doing it correctly".

Please help, appreciate any advice

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I think you should assess your own comfort level, if you would not be comfortable taking charge of this part of the project then perhaps it might be better left up to the GC.

Regardless, I would suggest having a Manual J calculation performed for the heat loss/heat gain calculation and a Manual D calculation done for the duct design. The credentials of the contractors should be verified along with referrals.

Since Climate Master and Carrier are essentially the same you may want to look at Carrier as well, particularly since youâÂÂre considering zoning as Carrier arguably has the best zoning and controls on the market.

At this stage I would recommend forgetting about price, youâÂÂll eventually come back to it and negotiate your best deal anyway. Learn as much as possible about whatâÂÂs being proposed, why and how it will be installed.

There are many other threads on this site regarding geothermal that contain a lot of useful information.

Have you considered in-floor hydronic radiant with geothermal?


Here is a link that might be useful: International Ground Source Heat Pump Association

    Bookmark   March 15, 2013 at 5:08PM
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Thanks for the advice. In-floor radiant is ruled out due to additional costs (~$60-75,000 extra).

Do you mean ClimateMaster's zoning would be better than Honeywell's setup? Should I ask both HVAC companies to quote for ClimateMaster's (Carrier's) zoning module?


    Bookmark   March 15, 2013 at 5:58PM
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I would encourage you to have a discussion about Carrier Infinity thermostats and zoning verses Honeywell. The discussion should also include the pros and cons of a mono block system (all in 1-package) verses a split system (separate geothermal and fan coil units).

What I like about the Carrier Infinity thermostat with zoning is that it gives you the capacity to not only monitor humidity in A/C mode but to control the humidity as well. The set point in A/C mode can be either by temperature degree or by a relative humidity set point, which can save energy and enable adjustment for comfort without necessarily lowering the temperature, just reducing the humidity.

Both systems are good, do some research before you meet with your contractors and draw your own informed conclusions.


Here is a link that might be useful: Carrier Infinity Thermostat

    Bookmark   March 16, 2013 at 1:19AM
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SR, thank you so much for the advice. Will definitely ask the HVAC companies on the Infinity zoning.

    Bookmark   March 16, 2013 at 8:54AM
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If you use the builder's HVAC company I imagine part of the price includes a profit for the builder. This is part of the differences in prices.

Make sure you understand the limits of the federal tax credits for geothermal. Items like duct work are not eligible.

    Bookmark   March 16, 2013 at 9:15AM
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I thought that the equipment associated with installation of a geothermal system does qualify for the federal tax credit.

Here is the quote from Geothermal Genius website:
"Labor costs associated with the installation of the geothermal heat pump property and any associated materials (piping, wiring, ducts, etc) are included. The residence does not have to be the primary residence."

I will also contact my tax accountant.

    Bookmark   March 16, 2013 at 9:34AM
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Here is a link that explains what qualifies for the tax credit. You have to go to irs.gov about the explanation for the carry forward of energy tax credits.

Here is a link that might be useful: What parts of a geothermal heat pump are covered by the tax credit?

    Bookmark   March 16, 2013 at 1:04PM
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