I messed myself!

MTY

Member
Jan 9, 2019
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Idaho
40K bid for a 4 ton horizontal geo thermal system. This is tax included. All conditioned space, so the ducts do not need to be insulated. And I do the dirt work.

With electic at 9 cents per KWH, this will take along time to break even.
 

sloeffle

Minister of Fire
Mar 1, 2012
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247
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Central Ohio
That is ridiculous. There is some serious mark up in that quote.

We have a 4 ton Waterfurnace system and it cost us about half of that all in ( dirt work, ducting, taxes, etc ).
 

begreen

Mooderator
Staff member
Nov 18, 2005
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South Puget Sound, WA
IIRC, our bid for a similar system - in 2006 - was north of $25K. And that with me doing some of the duct branch work and wiring.
 

EatenByLimestone

Minister of Fire
Jul 12, 2006
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Schenectady, NY
If you put 40k into closed cell getting sprayed into the house you could heat it with a candle.
 

MTY

Member
Jan 9, 2019
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Idaho
I imagine the vendor thinks people will be so excited about the tax credit that the cost will not matter. Insulating the bejeezus out of it was also my response to the bid.

i have two HVAC companies coming to look at the house next week. They will bid air heat pumps and back up strips. Since the duct work is necessary for either ground or air it wlli be interesting to see where the bibs come in.
 

Ashful

Minister of Fire
Mar 7, 2012
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Philadelphia
Neighbor just paid $26k two years ago, complete turnkey conversion on his existing ductwork for a 6500 sq.ft. house at 5000 HDD climate. I believe it is a deep well system, because I didn’t see any bulldozers moving dirt or massive re-seeding work in his lawn.
 

begreen

Mooderator
Staff member
Nov 18, 2005
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Yes, prices can vary dramatically depending on the region, installation type and contractor. We had quotes from around $8-22K for our air to air heat pump system. Ended up going with the $8.5K bid with me doing the insulated duct branches and electric. The $22K bid was from a Home Depot sponsored contractor. He wasn't even in the ballpark.
 

SpaceBus

Minister of Fire
Nov 18, 2018
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Downeast Maine
Yes, prices can vary dramatically depending on the region, installation type and contractor. We had quotes from around $8-22K for our air to air heat pump system. Ended up going with the $8.5K bid with me doing the insulated duct branches and electric. The $22K bid was from a Home Depot sponsored contractor. He wasn't even in the ballpark.
Oftentimes those insanely high prices are just contractors that don't want your job.
 

Ashful

Minister of Fire
Mar 7, 2012
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Philadelphia
I’ve noticed I get a lot more crazy high quotes in my current house, than I did when I lived in a more average house. I expect that trend will reverse, when I eventually downsize. The ironic thing is that I had a lot more money to burn when I lived in a smaller house.
 

Highbeam

Minister of Fire
Dec 28, 2006
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Mt. Rainier Foothills, WA
i have two HVAC companies coming to look at the house next week. They will bid air heat pumps and back up strips. Since the duct work is necessary for either ground or air it wlli be interesting to see where the bibs come in.
This is going to be a good comparison. Thinking geothermal was just one of those bridge technologies until air source heat pumps made some relatively small technological improvements. Just like CFL bulbs.
 

maple1

Minister of Fire
Sep 15, 2011
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Nova Scotia
40K bid for a 4 ton horizontal geo thermal system. This is tax included. All conditioned space, so the ducts do not need to be insulated. And I do the dirt work.

With electic at 9 cents per KWH, this will take along time to break even.
Do you have ductwork in place now? Does that include all new ductwork?
 

DickRussell

Burning Hunk
Mar 1, 2011
236
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central NH
For new construction in a heating climate, always put your first money into much better than "to code" construction, rather than looking for cheap heat to squander on a house built the way most are. Make it superinsulated, and there is plenty of information online on how to do that. Four tons of heat load is absurd, when you can make the house so much better so easily that the heating system would be more than adequate at just two tons, unless you are building some 6-8,000 sqft mansion.
 
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maple1

Minister of Fire
Sep 15, 2011
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This is just personal opinion/preference, but I wouldn't do any ducts. They take up too much space for me and make too many issues on how to get around them with other stuff, or how to get them around other stuff to get where you want them. I would put money into making sure you are as well insulated and sealed as possible, and mini-splits. That Geo quote is huge.
 
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Ashful

Minister of Fire
Mar 7, 2012
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Philadelphia
6000-8000 square ft is a mansion?!?
 

Ashful

Minister of Fire
Mar 7, 2012
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Philadelphia
There's a crap ton of cheap vinyl "mansions" crammed onto less than 1-acre lots around here, if that's the threshold. Some local builders are erecting them by the hundreds.
 

MTY

Member
Jan 9, 2019
193
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Idaho
For new construction in a heating climate, always put your first money into much better than "to code" construction, rather than looking for cheap heat to squander on a house built the way most are. Make it superinsulated, and there is plenty of information online on how to do that. Four tons of heat load is absurd, when you can make the house so much better so easily that the heating system would be more than adequate at just two tons, unless you are building some 6-8,000 sqft mansion.
There has been zero scrimping so far. I want it so well insulated one fart will heat it for a week, but the spousal unit still thinks we need AC and heat. It is right at 2500 sq ft.
 

begreen

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Nov 18, 2005
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I want it so well insulated one fart will heat it for a week, but the spousal unit still thinks we need AC and heat
She will want a gas mask and no beans for hubby.
 
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maple1

Minister of Fire
Sep 15, 2011
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There has been zero scrimping so far. I want it so well insulated one fart will heat it for a week, but the spousal unit still thinks we need AC and heat. It is right at 2500 sq ft.
One ton is 12000 btus - I think?

We have 2700 sq.ft. in two storys (on top of 1500 unfinished basement). On an open windy hill top. 23 years old now. It was built decent for the time but there are better ways to do things & materials to use these days. We put 2 x 12,000 BTU mini-splits in, back in November. I think if we had one more, they could carry all our heating & cooling load, year round. As long as the power wasn't out. They were doing it fine down to -15c this past winter, that's as low as I tried them. So that's 3 tons. Based on what we had done in the fall, I would ballpark 3 tons of mini-split over 3 units at around $12,000, installed by a good installer, with full factory warranty. Even bumping to 3 x 15,000 BTU units shouldn't be much more $$. No duct work, no ground work, simple electric feeds. Just seems too easy to me. With lots left over for more insulation and a wood stove to supplement, if desired. I don't think there is any way I could justify to myself to go Geo.

Not sure how your climate compares to here though.
 

Ashful

Minister of Fire
Mar 7, 2012
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Philadelphia
I have had several minisplits, and for heating in our climate, they simply don’t work. Mine have all been Mitsubishi systems, and they all fail to put out any reasonable amount of heat when outside temps dip into the teens. Get down into the single digits, and they’ll use more electric in a few days than in a full year of normal operation.

They’re a great option if your temps never get much below freezing, or a great back-up option, if you have gas, oil, or wood to carry the load when it gets real cold. They’re also fantastic for cooling, but primary heaters in a mid-Atlantic climate, they are not!
 

MTY

Member
Jan 9, 2019
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Idaho
Mini splits are off the table. I should have my air to air bids next week. Two companies came out. One was, "Can Do!", the other one was fairly negative about questions asked.
 

DickRussell

Burning Hunk
Mar 1, 2011
236
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103
central NH
There has been zero scrimping so far. ..... It is right at 2500 sq ft.
Idaho is a mixture of heating climate zones 5 and 6, depending on where you are. Do you know what your town's design minimum temperature is (which I think means it's lower only 1% of the time)?

I suspect that in specifying a four-ton unit the contractor (a) doesn't know how to do a thorough heat loss calculation for a very well insulated house; (b) knows how, but is unwilling to spend the time it takes to figure in all the details for such a house; or (c) at least suspects that a smaller unit would work, but knows also that he makes more money selling the bigger unit and knows that he won't get callbacks for oversizing a system.

At four tons for just 2500 sqft, he's figuring on 625 sq.ft. per ton of heating load. That's far too low for new, very well insulated construction. I won't give you a better rule of thumb to use, because rules of thumb should not be used for this at all; that's just guessing. You ought to have someone knowledgeable do a very detailed heat loss calculation, using actual dimensions, details of construction and insulation of all parts of the house, sizes and U values of all windows and doors, and results of blower door test obtained (or expected, if not at that point yet). You could even do this yourself with a spreadsheet; that's what I did.

For comparison, my house is a total of about 4000 sqft, on two levels, built into a hill. Uphill side of the lower level is full foundation wall, while the downhill side is fully framed. The sides are stepped. Framing is double wall (2x6 outer, 2x4 inner), with a 12" insulation cavity; whole-wall R value is close to 40. Attic is R60. Windows are triple-pane casements and fixed glass. Sub-slab insulation is R20, as are foundation walls. House is very tight, with HRV for continuous low-level ventilation. My spreadsheet told me the heat loss at -3 F would be about 22,000 BTU/hr (1.83 tons). The area distributor for Climatemaster specified a five-ton unit, as did two other installers. None did a really detailed calculation, but used canned software and some incorrect assumptions. In operation since 2011, my two-ton unit keeps the house at a nice even 70 F, in just first stage. My best calculation of actual heat loss at zero, based on limited data over a three-day period when the outside temperature swung just a few degrees to either side of zero, is about 19,000 BTU/hr (1.58 tons). That's about 2500 sqft/ton, although that's a number that certainly does not scale by size. A better, but still very very crude approximation would be by square root of living area, so your 2500 sqft might actually lose only 1.25 tons worth of heat, other things being equal, which they certainly are not. But four tons for only 2500 sqft ????

Bottom line, however you heat/cool the house, you ought to have someone competent do a detailed heat loss calculation, so that you really know what you'll need. Be in the driver's seat on this, and don't just accept what the contractor wants to install.
 
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MTY

Member
Jan 9, 2019
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Idaho
As they say, "Welcome to Idaho, turn your clock back 20 years," I haven't a clue who I could get to do these calculations. I can barely get people to show up to make a bid.

The two air to air contractors who showed up thought 3 ton was more appropriate than 4. My big problem now is that the insulation contractor went missing. Batts I can stuff, blow in I can blow, however I have only been able to find one person who does closed cell foam. I do not have the equipment for it.