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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Oct 2005
    Posts
    3

    Lightbulb

    Can anyone recommend the type of heating/cooling system for a large (4500+sf) new construction home in the midwest (mild to bad winters and warm summers). I am looking for an efficient system that is economically practical and reliable.

    Also, does anyone have experience with Geothermal systems? What are the pros/cons or things that I should watch out for from our contractors?

  2. #2
    Join Date
    May 2000
    Location
    Indianapolis, IN, USA
    Posts
    34,040
    What's the budget?

    Infloor radiant heat is most comfy source of heating. This can be done with a boiler or a water to water heat pump. Then you use a ducted cooling system (or heat pump) for circulation, cooling and mild weather heating.

    Ground source heat pumps are great, cheap heat & cooling but the cost of putting in the loops can eliminate the savings.

    The biggest problem with new construction is the contractor & equipment usually are chosen with rock bottom dollar in mind. Then you end up with poor design, poor quality installation and cheap equipment. Be sure to stress to the builder that you want more choices and more emphasis placed on climate control.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Apr 2004
    Location
    Bartlett, IL
    Posts
    6,619
    That's a pretty big place, sounds like you may have to zone, twin, or install 2 seperate systems.

    I use Trane equipment...nothin but the best

    Where in the midwest??

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Oct 2005
    Posts
    3
    2 hot: Ohio

    Looney: Not sure on budget. Part of it is in the builders pricing already for the home. I just wanted to look at other options to make sure that we are getting something that will work for us in the long run. I don't feel like I can ask any of the suppliers and/or contractors b/c I can never tell if they are just trying to sell something or if they really have our best interest in mind. Trying to get some impartial opinions.

    Thanks!


  5. #5
    Join Date
    Apr 2004
    Location
    Bartlett, IL
    Posts
    6,619
    Originally posted by lorieb
    I am looking for an efficient system that is economically practical and reliable.

    Also, does anyone have experience with Geothermal systems? What are the pros/cons or things that I should watch out for from our contractors?
    For starters, efficient & economical are hard to match.

    How much is your comfort worth ??

    High efficiency systems cost $$$ but they have many advantages compared to standard equipment.

    Geothermal will cost some $$$

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Oct 2005
    Posts
    3
    I am not worried about up front cost. However, I would like to minimize long term operating costs and associated maintenance costs. Maybe my question is too vague for this board. I guess I really want to know the pros and cons of:

    Natural Gas/Propane Systems
    Electric Heat Pump Systems
    Geothermal Systems

    As I'm sure you can tell, I have very limited knowledge with any HVAC system and thats why I am here with the experts trying to get some good ole boy (or girl) impartial recommendations. )

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Mar 2002
    Location
    Gaylord, Michigan
    Posts
    729
    Personally, I would look into radiant floor heating. Then go with a air handler or unico system for cooling. You can also use the forced air portion to warm up the home in the transitional months (sept-dec)(apr-Jun)with a hot water coil. As radiant floor heating can be slow to react.

    I would also look into a Veissmann Vitoden boiler. Excellent choice for a home with radiant heat. You could also use to heat your domestic hot water.

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Jul 2004
    Location
    Kent, WA
    Posts
    129
    Originally posted by lorieb
    I guess I really want to know the pros and cons of:

    Natural Gas/Propane Systems
    Electric Heat Pump Systems
    Geothermal Systems
    There are so many things we could cover so its hard to know where to start...

    A heat pump is an air conditioner that runs in reverse during the winter. If you plan to have airconditioning, upgrading to a heat pump doesn't cost much more at all since you already will have 90% of the equipment.

    Bad thing with heat pumps is that they should be sized to your cooling load. If you have a much larger heating requirement, it has to be supplemented with some other heat source (gas or electric resistance) or an additional heat pump. Another bad thing, as it gets colder, your heat pump produces less and less heat, making the need for supplemental heat even greater. You can supplement with a gas furnace or electric resistance heat. The major consideration here would be do you have gas available and what does it cost per therm compared to electricity. Also, is your electrical service large enough to accomodate 30 KW or more of resistance heat.

    Geothermal heat pumps fix some of this, as the ground has a much more constant temperature than the air, so they are more efficient than the air source heat pumps described above, especially when the air is very cold. But the cost to put in the ground loop is expensive and needs either a deep hole (like a well) or a large area that can be trenched.

    Heat pumps are only made so large for residential use (about 55K - 60K BTU max). If you need more heating or cooling than this, you'll most likely require two or more systems (typically one per floor).

    Natural gas and propane forced air systems are probably most common in Ohio. Propane usually costs quite a bit more than natural gas per therm, and you have a tank you need to keep filled. Check into the details of the filling costs and terms if you consider propane. If you have gas appliances already, then you're going to be dealing with the cost of gas regardless. Air from a combustion furnace is typically warmer than from a heat pump. Combustion furnaces are available in larger sizes -- over 100K BTU if needed.

    What is probably the most efficient system would be a "dual fuel" heat pump with gas as the supplemental heating fuel. This will use the efficient heat pump when the temperatures are above freezing and switch to gas when below freezing. The exact temperature when to switch over is a design issue specific to your area, equipment, and fuel costs. During summer, the heat pump will run in cool mode to keep your house cool.

    A separate gas furnace and a plain old air conditioner is simpler and most common. But this will most likely cost a little more to run, especially during mild weather.

    Others have mentioned radiant heating. This is more of a heat distribution method rather than a heat source. Some people detest forced air HVAC, and others think its normal. I'm not positive, but I don't think you can cool with a radiant system, so you'd still need forced air for that. If you must have the duct work for cooling, you might as well use it for heating too unless you really don't like forced air heating. Radiant floor heat also has a lot of "thermal mass", so it doesn't work to turn it down when you're away, unless you're away for days.

    I would also consider a variable speed fan in your air handler if you go with a forced air system. The fan runs much more often, but at a lower speed. This keeps the house a much more even temperature.

    There are many more questions you probably have in your head. Why don't you digest this, and then zero in with some more specific questions. I think many of the final answers you seek are depedent on fuel costs and the heat and cooling loads required to take care of your house. We can't even guess on the heat/cool loads based on square footage. Need to know many details like insulation, window sizes/orientation/shading, window U value, surface area of ceilings and walls, etc.

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Nov 2004
    Location
    SW FL
    Posts
    6,271

    Thumbs up Home Comfort

    Originally posted by lorieb
    Can anyone recommend the type of heating/cooling system for a large (4500+sf) new construction home in the midwest (mild to bad winters and warm summers). I am looking for an efficient system that is economically practical and reliable.

    Also, does anyone have experience with Geothermal systems? What are the pros/cons or things that I should watch out for from our contractors?
    Cons ... builders ONLY look at front end cost.

    Obtain an Independent, COMPLETE A/C Design.

    Geothermal operating cost will likely be < 1/2 of natural gas. Front end cost may give you 'sticker shock'.

    You may need 2 or 3 regular direct expansion (DX) A/C systems for a large residence.

    http://www.trane.com/Residential/Pro...HeatPumps.aspx

    http://www.waterfurnace.com/pdfs/casestudies/wf1179.pdf
    Designer Dan
    It's Not Rocket Science, But It is SCIENCE with "Some Art". ___ ___ K EEP I T S IMPLE & S INCERE

    Define the Building Envelope and Perform a Detailed Load Calc: It's ALL About Windows and Make-up Air Requirements. Know Your Equipment Capabilities

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Nov 2004
    Location
    SW FL
    Posts
    6,271

    Thumbs up Gound Source Heat Pump G S H P

    Originally posted by lorieb
    I am looking for an efficient system that is economically practical and reliable.
    Look into details and cost of 10-year Warranty for Parts & Labor in addition to regular equipment warranty.
    Designer Dan
    It's Not Rocket Science, But It is SCIENCE with "Some Art". ___ ___ K EEP I T S IMPLE & S INCERE

    Define the Building Envelope and Perform a Detailed Load Calc: It's ALL About Windows and Make-up Air Requirements. Know Your Equipment Capabilities

  11. #11
    Join Date
    Oct 2005
    Posts
    68
    In my personal opinion Geothermal is very efficient and over a long term the most cost saving. However just like everyone else said it is extremely expensive to install. I an next door to you in Indiana. I have installed Geothermal systems and collected the bill for them. All contractors have different prices. 4500 sq ft. unless you get a good company for zoning you will probably be happier with 2 systems. Ball park figure for 2 Geos installed is possibly at a minimum of $30,000. Brand we install is Waterfurnace. Maintenance isn't bad but repair is expensive too.

    Gas heat right now is probably going to eat all of us alive this witer with the rumor of gas prices increasing over 50%.

    Heat pumps are basically an air conditioner that runs backwards in the winter time so it will probably be close to the cost of running it in the winter as it would be in the summer. maybe a little more depending on how bad of a winter you have. Hope this can help you make a decision.

  12. #12
    Join Date
    Mar 2004
    Location
    Vancouver, BC
    Posts
    125

    House envelope

    The most efficient heating and cooling system that provides the most comfort is the building envelope. Go with the best windows you can afford, and watch the thermal bridging and envelope sealing details. For every $ spent on the envelope and proper window selection, you save $ for the heating and cooling plant and you save $$$ for the life of the house. The total Net Cost of the House won't be higher due to the savings in the heating/cooling equipment and infrastructure reductions.

    Look at something like a Total Comfort System that combines radiant heating (and maybe radiant cooling) with air to air energy recovery ventilation served by a high efficiency heating cooling plant. Condensing boilers, geo-exchange water to water heat pumps, solar water heating, slap on some photovoltaic panels and you could be almost "off the grid" if you really wanted to. A proper "whole house design" should not be a costly excursion and I'd bet that you could get total comfort and high efficiencies without having to pay premium costs. It means getting everyone on the same page at the beginning from the house designer right through to the Contractors, all in the same room.

  13. #13
    Just my personal experience with my own house building exercise...

    I built a 4000sqft house in northern Arkansas (near Branson, MO). Did the load calculations, and they showed a 3T unit would handle the summer load easily. Upsized it to a 3.5T load to cancel contractor's concerns about such a small unit. Wish I had stuck with my original load calculations, because we have some humidity issues due to short run time in our 4 zone (Arzel) system.

    Insulate well, do the load calculations, and stick to your guns (find a contractor who does quality load calculations and come to an agreement on assumptions).

    I tried to justify the use of geothermal, but with the cost of electricity here and my good insulation job, the ROI was longer than the life of the system, so I went with a conventional 14 SEER (13 SEER plus TXV) air source heat pump.

    Cost was EXTREMELY reasonable (won't violate the board rules by actually quoting the price), but wish I had been more strict on installation standards. Make sure you get absolutely the best installer you can, even if it costs some more. I went with the second best installer because the best installer was so booked that I was afraid I'd miss my move-in window, and the installer I chose had so many quality issues that I would have come out the same in the end timewise by waiting on the first guy...

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