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Carol's Forum Posts: 7

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By Carol in Moberly, MO on 11/19/2004


We are building a 2,300 sf two story farmhouse (in Missouri) on a basement. Not sure of what HVAC to put in and keep costs down initially. Any advice would be helpful!

Also does anyone know anything about Brandom cabinets?


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By Mark in Los Angeles, CA on 11/26/2004


I'm going to be putting in a radiant floor heating system from Radiantec. We had a home in Ft. Wayne, IN that had radiant floor heating and it was wonderful. Also, this stuff is pretty easy to work with, as I understand it. However, the downside is that you do have to run ducting for A/C. Still, I think the comfort of the RFH system is well worth it.

Good luck.


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By Richard in Apo, VA on 12/8/2004


Look at a SpacePak AC and Radiantec radiant heat combo. I have a quote for a 2.5 ton SpacePak kit for $2,500 which includes everything but the outside compressor. Radiantec quote was right at $6,000 for 3-floor 4-zone complete system. The house will be 2,300 SF (+ 550 SF heated/cooled garage)
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By Jeff in Henderson, NV on 12/8/2004


What are the major advantages with radiant heating over forced air? I am in Las Vegas and I have never seen a house with radiant heating. Just curious.

-Jeff


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By Mark in Los Angeles, CA on 12/13/2004


Jeff, I would not suggest you use radiant floor heating in LV. The lag time for heating up the floor can be 2-3 hrs. Cool down is just about the same period of time. Assume you are at home from 6 PM to 7 PM. So, you would have to turn your heating system at about 3PM and turn it off at about 6:30 AM. If you can set your system to do that, great. Otherwise, it would be a problem.

But, you can't beat the warm feeling of a floor in the cold times and it sure as heck beats the drafty forced air systems.

Good luck.


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By Joe in Elkhart, IN on 12/13/2004


If you decide on natural gas, check out the Goodman GMV9x furnace. Check out what the HVAC contractors said about this model: 

hvac-talk.com

I am going to purchase this model off eBay, from DESCO, a Goodman authorized dealer. I originally budgeted $9K for my forced air HVAC system. DESCO will properly size the system for you, and help you find a local installer if you are not qualified to DIY. Fortunately, my plumber is qualified, so my total cost will be below $5K for a complete HVAC system. Check out their eBay store at:

stores.ebay.com/DESCO

The best bids I had from contractors were about $7,800. So I was happy (being under budget), until I found this. Moral of the story: Be patient and shop around.


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By Kenneth in Lees Summit, MO on 12/14/2004


Since you have been over to hvac-talk.com (BTW a very informative site), have you tried using their search engine with the term "Desco"?

I would look for a local supplier. HVAC is one item I would be hesitant to purchase over the Internet lest you need some warranty work that needs to be reimbursed by the factory later. So far, every furnace I have ever owned has needed warranty work.


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By Joe in Elkhart, IN on 12/15/2004


Goodman GMV9x is a low-cost, high quality alternative to the Tranes and American Standards out there.

HVAC-talk will not be appreciative of web-based furnace sellers because they undercut, by a wide margin, the local contractors.

DESCO is an authorized Goodman dealer, so warranty work should not be a problem. If you are not squeamish, and can find a furnace installer who does not mind putting in a furnace he did not sell, then this could be a way to save a lot of coin.


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By Rena on 12/19/2004


Just recently I have met several people who are in the process of building houses and all of them (by coincidence) have mentioned geothermal heating. Their reasoning was that even though the initial installation cost may be higher, the money you save down the road is incredible. They all felt that the oil, natural gas etc. will go only higher and higher. We were already paying about $1.99 per gallon of heating oil last year in Maryland. This type of heat can be used for hot water as well as hot air heating. We know a few people who have used radiant hot water heating system and they loved it until there was a leak and they had to rip up the entire floor. We will be looking into the geothermal heat. Anyone here who has done it?


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By Joe in Elkhart, IN on 12/20/2004


Rena-

I looked into geothermal heating as well. It is more expensive to install, but the benefit is free heating and cooling. For my 3,400 s.f. house, I required about 2,400 feet of underground tubing. That's a half-mile of  pipe. What scared me off of geothermal was three things:

  • In a bitter cold winter, we might freeze the ground and have to heat with electric (read: expensive),
  • If the system breaks, you fix it with a backhoe, not a wrench (read: extremely expensive)
  • Plenum temperatures are about 20 degrees lower than forced air gas-fired system, so it feels cold (read: Wife Approval Factor = LOW)

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Rena's Forum Posts: 14

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By Rena on 12/20/2004


Joe,

Thanks a lot. Will do some more heavy duty research. We live in Maryland on the waterfront and the salesman told me that we would get more heat because water is warmer??? But today our river is solid frozen we have 11 F degrees. Cold. I do not like the backhoe idea; my husband would kill me if he had to go that way.

Thanks again,

Rena
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By John in Erie, CO on 12/20/2004


If you live near water, it can be MUCH cheaper to install geothermal. A properly designed geothermal system (read SYSTEM!) will give great comfort. Some things to keep in mind:

1) Low plenum temperatures do need to be overcome, but is usually done with a higher mass flow rate (volume of air). Designed right, it will feel the same.

2) It's great if you couple it with radiant, since then you are using water-> water.

3) It's not really free, but it is cheap - Probably equivalent to running your AC for both heating and cooling. Geoexchange units are typically rated with a COP (Coefficient of Performance) of 2-3 or so, meaning for every Btu/watt of energy you put into the compressor, you get out 2x-3x (even high 3's, e.g. 3.5) the amount of energy from the ground. In heating mode, the electricity consumed mostly generates heat, which helps heat your house. In the summer, with an option called a desuperheater, you can actually heat all of your domestic hot water with the hot air you remove from inside your house.

4) If things go wrong with the loop field, you are looking at some bucks to get things fixed. In my case, we would have used six 180' vertical bores, each with a loop of pipe in it (down and back out) and grouted with a thermally enhanced grout. This would be tied to a geoexchange unit that would convert the geothermal temperature difference to ~120 degree water, used to feed my radiant and pre-heat DHW. Loop fields are typically:
 
a) Pond or lake field - A big loop of pipe on the bottom of a lake or pond. Low cost, best heat transfer. 
b) horizontal trench - Dig hundreds of feet of trench, lay pipe in, backfill.
c) Vertical wells - Used in rocky soil, size constrained lots. 
d) Open system - Pull water from one well, extract heat, put down another well.

I ended up not installing geothermal - Too expensive for me (~$13K more than AC and a 95% efficient condensing boiler). 

Hope this helps.

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Rena's Forum Posts: 14

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By Rena on 12/20/2004


It helped a lot. I have to print your message and carry it with me when I start talking to the HVAC people. I have not done any pricing as of yet. In our present house we have a boiler - hot water heat.

Thanks again,

Rena

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By Randy in Collierville, TN on 1/7/2005


A couple of thoughts...

1. There is a geothermal method which involves direct transfer of energy (versus going through an exchanger). The company that does it is earthlinked.com. Their system buries the coolant tubes directly. This saves in several ways. Less tubing is required, and they can insert them vertically if space is a problem. The system is more efficient (less energy lost in the exchange process). They are not new; (they've been doing it for over 20 years). So depending on your needs, this may be something to look into.

2. On powering a radiant floor with one. Someone commented that it's somewhat like running your AC for both heat and cooling. Living in the south, that makes me gasp. Our big utility bills here are during the summer. I'm picturing two scenarios: Paying electricity for a compressor which is running to heat water to go in my radiant system, or paying for natural gas in a fairly efficient water heater to heat the water for the radiant heater. Then I compare the cost of the geothermal heat pump system with the cost of a nice gas water heater. See where I' m going? I guess I am trying to espouse the KISS principal. Sometimes we can get so enthralled with the gadgets that we just need to step back and ask, "Is this really worth it?"

Rb

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