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 03-03-2004, 08:31 Post: 78585
shortmagnum

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 Geothermal heating cooling

After three years of burning expensive propane in the winter and listening to the air conditioning pump straining in the 100 degree summer heat weve decided to go geothermal. The plan is to put in the type of heat pump that circulates water through coils buried in the ground (closed system). My BIL has had an open system (pumping ground water from their well) going for over 15 years and Im tired of hearing about his cheap heat.

My back yard has not been seeded yet so this summer would be a good time to bury the heat exchange piping. Of course I might have to fire up the Kubota and get the backhoe working to dig the trenches. I have not yet talked to any contractors so I dont have any prices but I should be able to save some money by doing the digging and backfilling.

Has anyone out there put one of these systems in? I would like to hear any comments you might have on the subject. We will probably be in this house for 10 more years so it should pay for itself especially with the expected high future price of gas.
Dave






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 03-03-2004, 09:24 Post: 78590
Murf

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 Geothermal heating cooling

I made a sort of a 'geothermal' system for my shop at home.

Basically it is a radiator from a Ford diesel pickup mounted in the plenum of an old Newmac wood/oil furnace I have in the shop. It is fed with water from a dug well which also supplies the washroom, the water comes up, through the rad and back into the well. In my case the permanent water table is only about 8' below grade so it is an endless supply.

I only use it in the summer as a cooling system, I drain it every fall, if I wanted to use it as heat I would need to make an exchanger and run some sort of freeze-protected fluid such as anti-freeze, but I am concerned about a leak which would be straight into the ground water. It lowers the temp by 10-15 deg. but more importantly it sucks an incredible amount of moisture out of the air.

I plan on replacing the oil furnace with a geothermal eventually, but in the interim I burn so much free firewood that the heat bill is pretty small anyways.

Best of luck.






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 03-03-2004, 09:53 Post: 78593
shortmagnum

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 Geothermal heating cooling

Murf, your system sounds interesting. You must have a way to drain the condensation off to the outside.

For a while I was thinking about one of those outside wood boilers that have been popular. I call them doghouses. But I think by the time I put in the piping, the pumps and the heat exchanger in my present furnace the cost would be $4-5K anyway. Then I would still have the "cost" of cutting and/or buying the wood to burn. If I had some nice hardwood on my property (I mostly have popple and pine) the wood option would be more appealing. And to be honest, winter woodcutting was necessary and I did it from the time I was old enough to remember. The farm house didn't have oil heat till the late seventies so I burned out early on the "fun" of woodcutting.
Dave






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 03-03-2004, 10:15 Post: 78598
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 Geothermal heating cooling

I know some people have had good luck with Geothermal, and it sounds good in theory, but we have had so many problems with our WaterFurnace system that I wouldn't recommend them to anybody. Not only has it been unreliable, and service and parts hard to get, but our energy costs are double what they projected making the payback period far exceed the expected life of the unit.






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 03-03-2004, 10:27 Post: 78599
shortmagnum

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 Geothermal heating cooling

Ken, Is this the company you worked with? I think they have a dealer near me. Even though your experience was not positive, this is exactly the feedback I'm looking for.
Dave






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 03-03-2004, 10:35 Post: 78601
Murf

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 Geothermal heating cooling

Dave, I collect the condensate in a 55 gal. plastic drum, the rad is high enough to gravity drain.

I have a steady stream of people who want it, everything from topping up batteries and radiators to one neighbour who is a homeopathic healer and won't even let her dog drink well water, instead she gives it make 'distilled water', I don't tell her about her dog drinking from puddles in my yard when it comes to play with my pooch, Laughing out loud.

In the course of clearing for golf courses we generate a LOT of hardwood logs, I have a lifetime supply of firewood.

Ken, I have heard other people complaining about waterFurnace also, there are a few hybrid systems made locally here that have excellent reputations.

Best of luck.






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 03-03-2004, 10:39 Post: 78602
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Dave, yes I worked with WaterFurnace. The dealer who originally installed ours dropped them due to chronic problems and the poor warranty reimbursement they got from the factory.






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 03-03-2004, 10:49 Post: 78603
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 Geothermal heating cooling

When I built my house I was very excited about geothermal, so I got a geothermal contractor out for an estimate. The system they recommended was the well based system. I asked the contractor if he had geothermal to see if he ate his own product, the answer was Oil. His bid was significantly more costly then fuel based systems.

My wife and I, undaunted by his own lack of personal use and the higher cost decided to do a survey.

We knew of a new (3 years old) 15 house subdivsion of comparable homes in our town that all had geothermal systems. It is important to be getting experience where you live not where I live because of climate, Elec rates, incentives ...etc

We went there and did a house to house survey. We got to speak to about 6 homeowners. The results were:

1) uses lots of electricity to make up for the temp shortfall, huge bills, more expensive than propane or oil.

2) People did not feel warm like with other heats.

3) If Electric goes out it can take forever for the house to get warm when it comes back on. Then takes alot of elec.

4) cannot drop thermostat down at night because it won't heat up in time in the morning. I like the house cold at night to about 61 so I did not like this fact.

5) Cannot shut down when away must be constant all the time in summer and winter.

I also found out that a well based system needs 15 gpm source and a return well to discharge. I only have 7.5 gpm in my water well. It also turns out that my water is acid which trashes the well pipes in 6 yesars, probably way less if used for heating and cooling. Your closed system should avoid these issues

Very happy I did not go that route.

Dennis







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 03-03-2004, 11:20 Post: 78613
kwschumm



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In fairness, our fuel bills are a fair bit lower than the neighbors who heat with LP and oil, and our house is a good bit larger. But based on the extra money paid up-front the payback based on energy savings will be around 20 years and there's no way this unit will last that long. And it's not a comfortable heat. Radiant floor heating is the way to go for comfort. Dennis' other criticisms are right on target. The recovery rate is awful. Following a one-week power outage last winter when our house temperature fell into the 50's it took four days to get back to 70.






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 03-03-2004, 11:35 Post: 78617
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 Geothermal heating cooling

I put a nordic system into my new house a few years ago. We run less than 120 summer and winter witb an electric hot water tank (4000 sq ft.).
Before I decided on the system I also research it with customers and other people with geothermal. From what I determined it depended as much on the installer as the system. The most vocal complains were from people that did not have the system installed correctly.
I did not get the electric back up, but supplimented with a pellet stove.
I normally drop the temperature back at night although not as cold as dennis.
I was away for most of January and reduce the temperature to 55 and then heated it up when I returned.
If the loops are sized right there should be no drop in temperature when the system is running.
I believe the Canadian systems are designed more for the extremes and generally function better. The price for me was better with the exchange.
Another good unit is the Polar Bear.






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