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Whisper Valley, Austin, Texas

Most press for our industry is inconsistent and at worst, completely incorrect.

This article about Whisper Valley in Austin, Texas falls mostly into the latter category and is EXTREMELY misleading. The article states that if your home’s ground-source heat pump stops working, you will still be able to get cooling from the “GeoGrid”. This is absolutely false, if your system is not operational you will not be able to cool your home. If you’re planning to purchase in Whisper Valley, be aware that your individual ground-source heat pump is for your home and your home alone. At no point can the “GeoGrid” replace your cooling system, nor can you tap into your neighbors cooling system.

“Because the homes all share this GeoGrid, residents don’t have to worry about being without air conditioning even if their personal system goes down — they can just tap into the grid. If a home needs more heating or cooling than its individual system can provide, it can get that from the GeoGrid, too.”

The article goes on to state that you can get additional cooling capacity from the “GeoGrid”, that is also false. While it does give the benefit of additional ground-loop capacity, you are still limited to the capacity of the ground-source heat pump installed in your home. If you have a 4-ton system, you still have a 4-ton system. You may be able to improve your overall capacity and EER slightly due to better loop temps but your 4-ton system won’t magically become a 5-ton system.

Here’s the complete article link.

GeoGrid: Texas geothermal helps cut energy bills to $1 per mo. – Big Think

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Geothermal Heat Pump Industry vs Geothermal Heat Pump Industry

Sadly our industry hasn’t grown versus the overall HVAC market in the 30 plus years I’ve been involved with the technology.

We’re still under 1% of the overall market, this is comparing the geothermal heat pump segment not the total water-source industry. Water-source includes systems that are typically in cooling tower applications, not in ground loop or ground-water applications. Ground loop applications are predominately institutional (schools), high-end residential, DOD (military base) housing and some light commercial applications. The technology has historically seen a few bubbles that would show momentary growth but has not been able to sustain any substantial growth versus the conventional air conditioning market.

One of the major reasons for this is that the geothermal heat pump industry absolutely loves to beat up on itself. Instead of being a unified front for environmentally friendly, high efficient heating and cooling, the industry prefers to battle amongst ourselves for a limited slice of the air conditioning market. Even within our segment, there is a lack of understanding as to what our industry offers.

An excellent case and point is a Dandelion Energy blog post from March of this year. This post was picked up by a few news outlets, not surprising given that Dandelion is part of Alphabet and a sister company to Google. I will link the entire article below but want to address some of the issues noted in their post and the ongoing issue of lack of industry unity.

“Originally conceived at X, the innovation lab run by Google’s parent company Alphabet, Dandelion’s goal is to make geothermal technology as affordable and accessible as possible.”

I want to say that I applaud what Dandelion is attempting to do and understand how difficult it can be to grow the industry. I have been involved as a contractor, manufacturer and product distributor over the past 30 plus years and have a unique perspective to most of my counterparts. The Dandelion model may well be the best way to grow the geothermal heat pump market but it hasn’t quite made the impact that should be possible.


My issues with the article —

While a Google search would have clarified some of the misinformation, typos and misspellings are a pet peeve — at least be consistent. Enertech is correct in the title, EnerTech in the body of the post is not.

“WaterFurnace takes that versatility one step further by being able to work with “combination systems” that heat with radiant flooring and cool with forced air. All three companies are large heat pump manufacturers that distribute their systems to partners all over the country”

Enertech’s CT combo system has been around for many years but sadly doesn’t produce a hit during a Google search for geothermal combination unit — maybe a pass on that one for the writer.
Compass CT (geocomfort.com)

“ClimateMaster, EnerTech, and WaterFurnace offer a wide range of variable speed and two-stage geothermal heat pumps. Dandelion’s geothermal system is a two stage heat pump, which is vastly more efficient than a single stage unit, but significantly less expensive and only marginally less efficient than a variable speed alternative.”

Overall, I agree with the points noted above but clarification is in order as ClimateMaster and WaterFurnace offer a water to air variable speed geothermal heat pump while Enertech does not. Enertech does offer a variable speed water to water geothermal heat pump product.

Though the Dandelion vs blog post wasn’t as combative as the title would imply, it certainly points clearly to one of the largest issues holding the geothermal heat pump market back. It’s time for the industry to stop working against itself and bring geothermal heat pump technology to a broader population base.

Dandelion Energy vs. ClimateMaster, Enertech & Waterfurnace│ Comparing the best Geothermal Heat Pumps


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Will the geothermal heat pump industry transition to R-32?

How will new refrigerant guidelines impact the geothermal heat pump industry?

US based geo manufacturers are much smaller than their traditional HVAC counterparts, so making a major change to production can be a much more expensive and impactful proposition. Check out the article linked below from Joanna R. Turpin at the NEWS.

The HVACR industry has been debating how to handle replacing R-410A in comfort cooling equipment ever since the courts ruled in 2017 that the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) did not have the authority to phase down HFCs. After that ruling, EPA promised to issue phasedown guidance regarding HFCs, but when that did not happen right away, many states started implementing their own HFC phasedown schedules.
Full article link