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  1. #118
    Join Date
    May 2002
    Location
    Houston Texas
    Posts
    6,327
    Ya'll have to understand that is just how Bill is, he just does not write in a straight serious nature most times.

    There are several considerations people not from Houston must understand, first HVAC here is very cheap I mean downright cheap; trying to get a reasonable rate for your work is like puling teeth. Everyone is undercutting the others price just to get work and the vast majority doing the work have no real knowledge or skills.

    Trying to introduce a new concept is near impossible so most do not try and will not expend the effort or money to educate themselves or their customers because it is a wasted effort. Yes, Bear, may well be the exception or he may not and ultimately go for the common/ordinary design. No offense to you Bear I have just seen too many espouse the rhetoric, I will spend extra for quality, waste mine or others time and then just go the cheap route; I hope you do not.

    Next the reason HVAC is so cheap our homes are cheap compared to most other large metropolitan areas, you get more sq.ft. per dollar here than almost anywhere and people move on average every five years so they will not invest 15% or more of thir homes value in something that will not pay for itself in a few years.

    I have proposed many hydronic systems over the last decade and not one has been sold, I have sold systems that were nearly as costly but more conventional because the homeowner ultimately felt more comfortable with an SOP design, partially because everyone else told them my option was not viable.

    As far as getting a commercial company to do the work, I have seen to many local debacles from comm. company forays into the residential field to be hopeful of an acceptable outcome.

  2. #119
    Join Date
    Aug 2009
    Location
    Jurupa Valley, CA
    Posts
    1,781
    And trust me, there are plenty of techs in Houston who are familiar with Chilled Water:
    Name:  TECO.JPG
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  3. #120
    Join Date
    Oct 2011
    Location
    NJ
    Posts
    149
    Quote Originally Posted by classical View Post
    Ya'll have to understand that is just how Bill is, he just does not write in a straight serious nature most times.

    There are several considerations people not from Houston must understand, first HVAC here is very cheap I mean downright cheap; trying to get a reasonable rate for your work is like puling teeth. Everyone is undercutting the others price just to get work and the vast majority doing the work have no real knowledge or skills.

    Trying to introduce a new concept is near impossible so most do not try and will not expend the effort or money to educate themselves or their customers because it is a wasted effort. Yes, Bear, may well be the exception or he may not and ultimately go for the common/ordinary design. No offense to you Bear I have just seen too many espouse the rhetoric, I will spend extra for quality, waste mine or others time and then just go the cheap route; I hope you do not.

    Next the reason HVAC is so cheap our homes are cheap compared to most other large metropolitan areas, you get more sq.ft. per dollar here than almost anywhere and people move on average every five years so they will not invest 15% or more of thir homes value in something that will not pay for itself in a few years.

    I have proposed many hydronic systems over the last decade and not one has been sold, I have sold systems that were nearly as costly but more conventional because the homeowner ultimately felt more comfortable with an SOP design, partially because everyone else told them my option was not viable.

    As far as getting a commercial company to do the work, I have seen to many local debacles from comm. company forays into the residential field to be hopeful of an acceptable outcome.
    Thanks for your well reasoned response.

    Believe it or not, I do have experience in the Houston area. I worked for a multinational corp with offices in Houston and engineered a project there a few years back. It was design build and perfect for chilled water, however, the budget was already set and based on packaged RTUs when I came on board. The project required 6 large areas to be tempered only delivering 70 deg air with huge quantities of outside air 75% or better IN HOUSTON! RA temps would be over 87 deg F on a design day going to a package unit. I fought for chilled water, but the contractor wouldn't budge, the owner didn't understand the concern over the high RA temp, and since tempering was decided as a means to cut equipment size down thus reducing first cost I was stuck with it. I figured out a way to do it, but it would have been a piece of cake with chilled water.

    That said, I have seen the resistance to chilled water in Houston first hand, so I can see your point.

  4. #121
    Join Date
    Aug 2009
    Location
    Jurupa Valley, CA
    Posts
    1,781
    I understand the plights involved, but those here with the technical knowledge to realize there is a better way, should jump at the chance of a consumer actually trying to understand a better way as well - not tell him to not bother, and get in line with everyone else. This site should be about innovation and spreading real information, not towing the status quo and spreading FUD about anything better. Done right, Mr. Bill should have taken this as an opportunity to build a showcase system that simply handles all the hurdles of the Houston climate. Most the problems you list about Houston, classical, are the same everywhere where there is enough population to support high competition in the marketplace. But even in a marketplace with high competition, there is still a market for premium products. If the OP decided he really wanted a premium product, and knows what that really means, then he would request bids meeting a specific set of requirements. This would eliminate a very large portion of the companies from the get go.

    As for getting a commercial contractor to do work on a residential project, That is not entirely what I said. I said to find a company that does both. If that company truly wanted to have a showcase system, they would team up a residential guy and a commercial guy to design the best of both worlds (commercial style system, at residential build style), potentially developing a new set of high value clientele.

    FWIW, 7 of the 9 companies on the HTalk Contractor Map in the greater Houston area list themselves as doing both residential and commercial work. A couple listing both chillers, and residential geothermal work.

  5. #122
    Quote Originally Posted by CraziFuzzy View Post
    But even in a marketplace with high competition, there is still a market for premium products. If the OP decided he really wanted a premium product, and knows what that really means, then he would request bids meeting a specific set of requirements. This would eliminate a very large portion of the companies from the get go.
    As I mentioned early in this thread, my goal in starting this discussion was to elicit feedback on what I should be considering: what works, what doesn't, what's worth the premium and what is simply expensive. If I end up with a lead or three of people local to Houston that want to have a great reference site and who will give me a showcase-worthy system, then all the better. However, I'm not sacrificing my pool so that they can have one. Some combination of financials and performance have to work out for the price paid (I don't want to use the word "fair", but...).

    Quote Originally Posted by CraziFuzzy View Post
    A couple listing both chillers, and residential geothermal work.
    If only for this thread, can we agree that it isn't geothermal? I know what a "ground-source heat pump" is, and it hasn't been in consideration since we settled on Houston (where there are no incentives) vs. a few other geographies where they are heavily subsidized. A GSHP would be the equivalent of spending $XXXXX more to save $YY/month over a high-performance ASHP. The economics just aren't there, and you still have pumps that need maintenance.

  6. #123
    Join Date
    May 2004
    Location
    south louisiana
    Posts
    3,281
    so I've just read through the thread from 1st to 10th page.
    while things got off track...it seems that we are back where
    we were before the Oh no Mr Bill ride. (insert smiley...)

    what stands out to me are the following postings.
    just name of person posting & post numbers.
    OP post 19
    Mr Bill post 52

    post 53 vangoseer in reply to post 19 by OP

    post 118 classical
    post above by crazifuzzy

    in this thread there were lots of good posts. lots of good info shared
    & exchanged. pros put a lot of thought into their answers.
    it is a pleasure to help someone of your mindset.

    after 10 pages OP...what type system are you leaning towards?
    the first post I listed outlined the choices you were considering..
    several pages ago.

    what are your thoughts now? fwiw, I went to Freus website, which
    says it is under construction. I had heard rumors that they were out of
    business...but see no positive proof of this on the web.
    I did find a site with good info on their units. note that I am including
    the link..to which I have no interest..other than sharing info.

    http://www.ecosmartinc.com/productdo...s-Overview.pdf

    IMO this type of unit would be something to compare & possibly
    add to your list of systems under consideration. there may be other
    brands with water cooled condensing unit. this is the only one I am
    somewhat familiar with.
    I have limited personal experience with freus.
    an install in New Orleans for a homeowner of an existing home.
    one wall of the house faces the lake & is 80% windows.
    the install was 2005..almost 8 years to the day.
    HO is very happy still with his investment.
    I recently spoke with him concerning the work he needs to
    do to his existing ductwork. at time of purchasing unit he
    didn't seal ductwork, but will be ready to do so in the fall of
    this year.
    even with less than optimal ductwork...his choice after all the
    different options was this freus unit. his savings on utility costs
    at .13 kwh have paid back any extra costs of this type system
    several times over the past years. not always the motovation...
    but good to know.

    there is another freus install nearby done by local contractor.
    she is not the normal hvac contractor, but someone who researches
    & reads the install directions. although her brand is Carrier, there
    were no problems with her installing Freus units.

    these things can happen...its just to find the right company for you.

    back on page... I don't remember what...you asked about what range
    of SEER is optimal. after years of running the analysis we use in our
    energy rating business...I've found that 15-17 is the range that
    provides the things we need most in our hot humid climate.

    for the most part... I recommend heat pumps. unless gas is available,
    or perfered. our utility rates vary greatly from .08 per KWH to .13 per KWH
    although cold climates don't consider out winters in need of heating...
    we do heat in the winter. heat pumps provide a good savings, and pairing
    a efficient condensing unit with a variable speed air handler unit
    provides affordable comfort.
    again...I'd also recommend a whole house dehumidifier with fresh air
    intake to return side of system.
    this way you remove the bulk of RH with ahu..and can easily maintain
    50% and lower RH with dehumidifier.

    granted, you will have to shop for a company that has done these
    installs. and possibly it is a challange in houston... I can't imagine
    the good ol boy network is stronger in Tx than La. and we have
    companies here who do these installs. just not low bid companies..
    as you understand the importance of install & equipment choice...you get that the
    education involved is worth the added cost you pay.

    it isn't difficult to determine which companies have invested in education.
    rather than the old tired lines concerning sizing of systems, lack of understanding
    why load calcs, duct sizing & design & laughable definitons of zoning,
    you get recommendations based on the science of hvac.

    perhaps I have a tendancy to simplify things...but imo, your choices
    of equipment are based on what your budget allows you to spend.
    you know that number.
    my hope is that you are recieving an education
    that allows you to chose the system you can afford without sacrificing performance,
    comfort or affordability.
    I'm all about not only cost upfront of equipment..
    but what it will cost to operate & maintain the system from install to
    end of useful life of the system. note singular system...not systems.
    one costs less to purchase, operate & maintain.

    I've had many clients that started out wanting geothermal...but after
    checking into costs..decided on less expensive equipment. install cost of
    geo in my area is very high, which was the determining factor for these
    people. while they did decide against the geo systems, efficiency & performance
    was not something they sacrificed. there are options....always.

    there are several energy raters in Houston that can advise you on
    not only hvac choices, but the entire build of your home.
    as we work with hvac companies, insulators & builders
    you might want to explore the option of consulting with
    someone in your area.
    visit www.resnet.us for a list of people in your area.

    best of luck.
    The cure of the part should not be attempted without the cure of the whole. ~Plato

  7. #124
    Join Date
    Aug 2009
    Location
    Jurupa Valley, CA
    Posts
    1,781
    Water cooled condensers add in a maintenance aspect that other alternatives listed here don't have. Not that I'm not a fan of them, but I'm not against doing some equipment cleaning a couple times a year. A water cooled condenser CAN save a ton of money, but it does use some water - The amount of energy it saves is based on the difference between wet bulb and dry bulb in your particular climate. In the southwest, where that difference can easily be 40°F or more, they make a LOT of sense and easily pay for their added maintenance. Now, on to that maintenance. The amount of maintenance required is dependent on the water quality you have coming in. If you have very hard water, it will foul up the works rather quickly. If you have very soft water (or softened water), then it may not require much more than a seasonal cleaning. They also cost a lot more, for the same reasons residential chillers cost more - production numbers. There is nothing 'expensive' about the water cooled condensers, they basically combine conventional a/c condenser techs, with that of regular evaporative coolers. I'm not entirely familiar with the numbers of Houston's climate, but I'd be willing to bet the returns on a water cooled system would not be as substantial as you might think. Now, if this system was going into Havasu City, I'd be singing it's praises.

  8. #125
    Quote Originally Posted by energy_rater_La View Post
    after 10 pages OP...what type system are you leaning towards?
    the first post I listed outlined the choices you were considering..
    several pages ago.
    I need to get connected with the local UNICO rep, rather than playing phone tag. One can find pricing online for UNICO hardware (I'll be circumspect, moderators!), and it looks like the hardware is about a 2X multiple of more mainstream gear. Since I do not know the full kit requirements, this is just based on a mark-one eyeball on the big ticket items. Having looked at the website, as well, I am concerned about how much more cost will be incurred due to the additional "brains" in the system. I also did not get a warm-fuzzy about t-stats. All of these issues bear further investigation. I really, really like the idea of having buffered cooling capacity. I really, really did not like the cost of insulated pressure tanks that I found online.

    I know that there is a recommendation for ~10gal/ton, but my modeling with PVWatts and a spreadsheet from the CCHRC indicates that I'll be taking about 60K BTU per day of excess heat through my south-facing windows -- even with a SHGC of 0.2.:
    http://rredc.nrel.gov/solar/calculat.../pvwattsv1.cgi
    http://cchrc.org/docs/calculators/So...dows_v1_1.xlsx

    Quick math indicates that at a 30*F differential between water temperature and setpoint, that a gallon of water only buffers 240 BTU. If I sized the equipment to just meet the cooling needs of the home until the sun hit the western glass, then I need 300gal of water held at 42*F. That starts to sound like a) a heavy load for the framing, and b) like an expensive pressure tank. To be fair, I think that this probably would put us into a <3t unit (maybe even 2t as postulated). Nothing in this is undoable, but it just takes some additional investigation and planning.

    In the Heat Pump vs. A/C + Gas, I will probably go with the Heat Pump, but acquisition pricing will go a fair way in determining this. I suspect that our ambient plug loads plus passive solar design will mean that our native heating load will be miniscule (the odd cold snap here and there). If so, then I'd want one less roof penetration, and SWMBO always has issues when we fire up the gas furnace for the first time in nine months.


    [..]there are several energy raters in Houston that can advise you on
    not only hvac choices, but the entire build of your home.
    as we work with hvac companies, insulators & builders
    you might want to explore the option of consulting with
    someone in your area.
    visit www.resnet.us for a list of people in your area.
    My builder has an energy rater that he works with, and my architect has several other LEED "consultants" with whom he has worked. I've spoken with the first, and when I found out that an additional blower door test (prior to drywall, after framing and insulation) was only going to be another $600, I signed up immediately for the second test. LEED Gold will be a slam-dunk for us, and LEED Platinum is within reach without killing the budget on expensive, impractical things to chase points.

  9. #126
    Join Date
    May 2004
    Location
    south louisiana
    Posts
    3,281
    tap into the rater for hvac companies, recommendations & info.
    if you are paying, the rater should answer any questions, it is
    your rating.
    The cure of the part should not be attempted without the cure of the whole. ~Plato

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