How quickly will my new geothermal system be installed?
The installation of a geothermal system is similar to that of a conventional HVAC system. Each system consists of the equipment and a distribution system. The geothermal system adds an earth loop.
The distribution system is almost the same between conventional and geothermal. Air flow requirements for a geothermal system are often higher than with a furnace and A/C. Because of that you may have more or larger supplies and returns. In new construction this might mean one extra day to finish the install of the duct work. On an existing home this might mean modifying or replacing the duct if it is not going to meet the new air flow requirements. Proper duct design dictates supply air capacity equals return air capacity. On many older homes the duct was never balanced so new returns may need to be added. This could add a day to several days depending on how accessible your duct system is.
If your distribution system includes radiant floor heating, you will find the time to install is comparable to that of a boiler. Your total install time for a radiant application is dependent on how elaborate (how many zones) your system is. You could be looking at a few days to a few weeks. If it is an existing home and a geothermal system is getting hooked up to an existing radiant system the install time is minimal. The main components should be reusable. The biggest time factor is draining the existing system and refilling/bleeding the air when finished.
Setting and wiring equipment takes about the same amount to time as conventional. The big difference is a conventional system has some sort of fuel line to it. A geothermal unit has a loop system and circulator pump(s) connected to it. Depending on the loop style, install time could be a day or two for a horizontal closed loop to nearly a week for a vertical closed loop.
In general the installation time of a geothermal system for new construction is about the same as a conventional system. The main difference is the loop system, and that can usually be finished during the normal construction schedule. For an existing home you will need to get an exact estimate from your contractor. It could be as quickly as a day or two for the outside work and another day for the inside. It could also be drawn out if extensive duct work modifications are required.
If your current HVAC system is still operational, see if your contractor can install your loop system and complete as many duct modifications as possible before removing the existing unit. This will insure that you are comfortable in your home with as little interruption as possible. If your current equipment is not operational and you need heat, your new geothermal unit can be run off of an existing water supply. This will allow for a quick change out and a short down time while waiting for a loop system to be installed.
Doug Schuster Doug Schuster started helping his father when he was in high school. In 1984, he helped install his first residential geothermal system. In 1996, Doug took over as owner of his dad's company. Since then he has been responsible for the design and installation of hundreds of geothermal systems. In 2001, Doug won a Project of the Year award from Enertech Global for an 80,000 sq.ft. retirement home. Doug has served on the board of the Iowa Geothermal Association and was president in 2009. www