To Geo or not to Geo that is the question
I've been in HVAC scince I was twelve and am primarily resi and light comm.
I have a customer that wants to go geo and I have serviced some geo systems.
I'm in north central Texas and am wanting my possibly first job to go right.
What should I do? The drilling equipment is expensive and should I sub it out anyone have a good ground guy? is the Wrightsoft module good for the design of the ground loop? who is the best company for equipment and who is the most supportive distributor in my area? I am thinking of installing this in the fall when the cooling season ebbs. I have read alot of manufactures literature and will get certified before I start. I will aslo bring in someone with expieriance to guide me hopefully from this forum. My customer was wanting to go geo I was thinking IQ Drive. I thought yahtahay why not? Thanks for any advice you all may have.
It's Hammer Time!
I am not sure whether I should say congratulations or condolances.
Your querry could take hours to address but, I will try and be brief.
Every region of planet has their version of the best exchanger. That determination is based on cost to install and long term reliability. Find out which one fits your AO.
Constructing a exchanger is not really something to be undertaken by the new guy. There are very few HVAC companies that build good exchangers and even fewer loopers that install good HVAC equipment.
I would sub it out untill you get your hands dirty with it and can make a better decision about your involvement in the exchanger construction.
The software you describe I am not familiar with, there are others that are tried and true. Loop link is a good one. As the HVAC really all you should do is provide the looper with the load and let him build the exchanger that is appropriate. You could run your software for a reality check, but if you assume the design for the exchanger and it fails the responsability is yours not the exchanger builder.
The very best geo units available are the ones that are sold and supported by your local distribution chain. If it needs parts or service, which every machine does, haveing that local supply of parts on the shelf or support is priceless. IMHO water furnace is the worst, because unless the dealer commits to stocking inventory in house, all your parts support is 2 days away via overnight ups packages.
Geothermal units also do not have to be space shuttle compliant. A really good machine does not have to have twinkly fault lights and controls add nauseam to work. My favorite was FHP prior to Bosch. A very efficient no nonsense machine that worked well.
If you are going to do geothermal well you are realy going to have to commit to some quality training, not the training offered at the supply house on Wednesday night with beer and the manufactures rep, and you all get a certificate.
IGSHPA is the gold standard place to start. Their 2 day designer install class will tweak your brain and run you 1k prior to travel and lodging. After that you still need to do more, like get loop link certified, and even more.
Geothermal is not for the faint of heart. You need to do the work up front to get good results out the back door. If the supply house is doing your manual J's will they back up a failed geo design or run for cover? Will your exchanger installer back up their work with certification and garrauntee's, or run for cover?
Geothermal is just another facet of the HVAC industry where monies can be generated, however it is also not very tollerant of SWAG's, or half a$$ed splashes into market. It is a marriage of two trades that are distinctly different but need to exist in a simbiotic relationship, not one that is parasitic.
To do geo well you need to have at least one seasoned contractor involved from the start, to help the other "new" trade. The best recipe for dissaster is two new contractors on the same project.
Hope this helped and not discouraged.
As Eric(waterpirate) stated, you really really really need to find a good looper, whether it be horizontal or vertical. I never plan on doing my own drilling. Any vertical or horizontal boring is subbed out based on our loop design. If its a horizontal trench then we do the loop ourself and sub out the excavation and still design the loop ourself. Many brands will have loop software that will show you what your loop should be like based on their equipment, your load and your soil/geologic conditions. However throw caution to the wind because I use the waterfurnace software as a baseline and adjust as needed due to specific ground conditions.
When I first started i got certified by IGSHPA and the manufacture, then i got myself setup with a local contractor who was experienced at ground loops and I had him do my first few loops while I went to as much training and spent as much time as possible learning how to properly loop so that 9 months later i was able to do my first loop under the STRICT supervision of our dealer rep. It took me over a year from starting in ground source heat pumps to get the the point of installing my first one(even with the loop subbed out). You should also make sure the guy that does the loop does your first couple of system startups(flush and fill) because while it is a simple process, it relies a lot on the loop to do it properly.
Good luck in this endeavour, we mad the commitment(not choice but commitment) to get into geo in 2009. It is now three years later and we are the largest dealer with our brand in a multistate area and still growing. Geo is probably 25% of our business now. We are a new dealer being that we have only been doing systems for less than 2 years(this time around, started geo in 1995 but business partner lost interest) so i know where you are, look up that hill and decide if its one you want to climb.