Discuss: Geothermal heating of a house

Discussion in 'Energy & Electricity' started by NaeKid, Oct 13, 2009.

  1. NaeKid

    NaeKid YourAdministrator, eh?

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    I have been doing some reading about geothermal heating of a house and I have been quoted many different amounts of money to make it happen. I plan to have geothermal heating in my next house (if at all possible) and found that for under $10,000 (best quote) I could probably have it running as a closed-loop no-maintenance system.

    I have not found any downsides in the theory behind it, and, in the practical nature, none either.

    Looking for a discussion on geothermal.

    To get you all started on the path to geothermal:

    1. Geothermal Heating Systems
    2. HowStuffWorks "How Geothermal Energy Works"
    3. HowStuffWorks "How Can We Use Geothermal Energy?"
    4. Geothermal heat pump - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
     
  2. northernontario

    northernontario Well-Known Member

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    My father has heated and cooled his house for years with an air-source heat pump. Geothermal is essentially the same thing, except instead of using the air as your heat source/dump source, you are using the ground.

    The downside to transferring heat to/from the ground is that heat is not easily conducted through dirt. (pipes layed in trenches). Whereas air-source heat pumps can easily transfer heat to/from the air, ground-source heat pumps need more surface area to transfer the heat.

    But the huge upside... the ground is a fairly constant temp. Instead of trying to generate heat from -20C air, you're transferring heat from +12C ground. And instead of trying to cool (reject heat) to +30C air, you're transferring to +12C ground.

    Several routes to go with the outside portion (the Wiki article covers it well).

    The inside route... forced air vs. water....

    Forced air is good if you plan to use it as air conditioning. Water, used as in-floor radiant heating, is a much better heating system. Easier to control 'zones' of the house. And heat at your feet feels much nicer than heat swirling around your head. You can actually keep the temperature of your house lower with radiant heating, because the act of heating your feet makes you feel warmer.

    I think part of the big expense with geothermal is based on how the system is installed, and the labour for it... drilling a well versus digging a trench... If you have friends with connections, or you have knowledge and access to equipment, you can lower your costs. (when my father built his 30x40 shop, he bought a used backhoe... calculated that it would be cheaper for him to buy it and maintain it, instead of paying someone else to do all the digging, back filling, etc etc. And now he's got a backhoe to use around the farm. Lots of fun!)
     

  3. bunkerbob

    bunkerbob Supporting Member

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  4. Canadian

    Canadian Well-Known Member

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    I've seen companies that do it at the annual new home show in Toronto. They systems look awesome. The only drawback is if there are too many houses in a small area using this system. It actually changes the temperature of the soil and drops in efficiency and has an impact on the ecosystem in the soil.

    If you're the only one using it then there's no problem. They can also do the same thing with water if you live on a lake or very large pond.
     
  5. NaeKid

    NaeKid YourAdministrator, eh?

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    If I get the acreage that I want, I would want to be "digging" a "moat" around the property for additional water-storage. The "moat" would be more of a pretty thing with a draw-bridge for vehicles to cross over and arched foot-bridges to get from one side to the other (my grandpa built a foot bridge over his creek to reach from one side to the other of his property).

    I love water - so - if possible I would also dig in a large pond that could be filled with fish and put a wind-power'd air-pump to keep the water oxygenated and use a wind-powered water-pump to pull fresh water from the "moat" to keep the pond filled with water at all times.

    So many ideas .... so little money :cry:
     
  6. bunkerbob

    bunkerbob Supporting Member

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    Have 'Canadian' help you dig it with his "pick and shovel" as he offered to help me with the underground dig.
     
  7. Canadian

    Canadian Well-Known Member

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    My arms will be ripped!!!!!
     
  8. Tex

    Tex Pincushion

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    I'd like to build a convertible system. I could choose between recirculating the houses air or bringing outside air into the house through ductwork in the ground. I'd worry about about the air getting stale, but I like the efficiency of a closed system. With an open system, I'd like to employ clerestory windows for natural cooling.
     
  9. fognar

    fognar New Member

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    what do you guys think about a DIY system with several radiators from a car hooked together, bury them, then pump water through them and use that to cool my house?
     
    Last edited: Sep 24, 2010
  10. nj_m715

    nj_m715 www.veggear.blogspot.com

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    It would have to be a small house or you need a lot of radiators. Any way rads. are meant to have air flow through them, so save your money and just use plastic pipe.

    I'm far from an expert, but I think you can do it 2 ways. You can long trenches, that could be dug by hand or backhoe, or you can do it on a small lot by drilling deep wells for the pipes.

    I do HVAC work, the only first hand experience I had with one was to convert it back to a conventional high eff. system. The home owner wasn't happy with it and experienced some problems, but I was just a doing the work I don't know the details. I seemed crazy to me to abandon several thousand dollars of investment. It reminded me of when they pulled the solar panels off the white house roof.
     
  11. Tirediron

    Tirediron RockyMountainCanadian

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    I have heard that Geo thermal doesn't work well in the heavy clay soil of this area, clay isn't as conductive as sandy soil.
    Personaly with the amount of sun we normally get in this part of the country super insulation coupled with solar gain and night shutters would probably work better
    Geo thermal is also very dependant on outside power sources for the heat pump
    In my opinion geothermal as a heat source is over rated and probably not very user serviceable in a SHTF type situation unless you already have refridgeration experience and tools :scratch
     
  12. NaeKid

    NaeKid YourAdministrator, eh?

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    One of the very first known GeoThermal systems in the world is located in Calgary in an area known as MountRoyal. The guy who put it in, designed it and implemented it just before he invented the air-conditioner. From my understanding, it has been running "for free" for close-to 70 years now.

    I tried to google the house and its location, but, for some reason, I am unable to find it - probably due to all the new companies that are taking the top-spots in the search-engine.
     
  13. Tirediron

    Tirediron RockyMountainCanadian

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    If the system in Mount Royal has been working for free it must be a passive loop
    heat exchanger , a geo thermal system in todays market uses a grid powered heat pump, refrigerant based system using the ground for a cold sink in winter and a heat sink in summer .
    If you find the info on the system please post a link
     
  14. Tirediron

    Tirediron RockyMountainCanadian

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    I tried a couple of other search engines (Vroosh .ca etc ) but couldn't find any reference to the history :cry:
     
  15. NaeKid

    NaeKid YourAdministrator, eh?

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    Same here.

    A friend of mine who used to live in MountRoyal told me all about it - he has since moved to Japan, met some girl and married her. I don't think he'll be comin' back here anytime soon ..
     
  16. Tirediron

    Tirediron RockyMountainCanadian

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    Is there a way to bolean(sp) search newspaper archives for that period?? the calgary hearld has been around for a very long time.
     
  17. bunkerbob

    bunkerbob Supporting Member

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    Here's what I found on that... Geothermal Installation Montreal

    [ame="http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=V_fqVSwQLh0"]YouTube - Geothermal installation Montreal[/ame]
     
  18. NaeKid

    NaeKid YourAdministrator, eh?

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    If I remember my facts right, it was around 1916 to 1920 that the house was built with the GeoThermal systems in place. I have exhausted my Google-Fu - now I might need to do a door-to-door search of the area ...

    Can you imagine how :nuts: people will think I am for doin' that? :sssh:
     
  19. NaeKid

    NaeKid YourAdministrator, eh?

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    LongTime - that is a slightly different system that uses air as the transport-system of the heat from the earth. The systems that I have linked above uses a fluid heat-transfer similiar in nature to engine-antifreeze (glycol) that is pumped as "in-floor-heating" ...

    I will be doing some more reading and research into the system that you linked in ...

    :thankyou: