A compact, horizontal geothermal system enables production builders to offer energy efficiency and renewable tech to their clients, regardless of the home’s size.
Geothermal energy harvests heat that is trapped underground, which is solar thermal energy. The renewable technology is installed by digging a large trench, then filling the new space with coils and pipes that harvest the thermal energy. The final step is collaborating the indoor equipment to work with the whole-house HVAC system.
Due to the extra infrastructure and equipment necessary, production builders typically view geothermal energy as an extra expense. A compact system can help alleviate some upfront costs by changing the system’s placement in the home.
A More Compact Option
Enertech Global has introduced a line of compact, two-stage horizontal geothermal systems with the goal of improving installation times and efficiency for high-volume homebuilders. The company is calling it drop-in installation.
Also worth noting, the all-aluminum air coil and brazed plate heat exchanger allow for reduced refrigerant use and fouling. Fouling is the accumulation of unwanted material on solid surfaces within the system.
As with traditional geothermal systems, the horizontal design allows for near-silent operation. Elastomeric compressor absorption pads and high-density closed-cell spray foam insulation reduce noise and prevent vibrations.
This, paired with a compact design, means that builders can install a fully-functional geothermal system and cabinet into the attic or crawlspace without having to worry about system noise reverberating around the home.
Alternative Geothermal Options
Enertech’s new product is one of many efficient and appealing geothermal systems on the market. Depending on the type of home you build and its energy needs, other products may better fit your needs.
If system size is not a concern, builders can choose from alternatives such as WaterFurnace or Bosch. Like Enertech, these options integrate with a whole-house system but are not as compact as Enertech’s offering.
WaterFurnace manufacturers the three main components of a typical geothermal system, the mini-splits, the hydronic piping system and an all-in-one system with everything included. These different packages can help builders tailor their geothermal offering to best match their clients’ needs. This option stands out because it’s connected and can be operated via smartphone.
Bosch manufacturers water-to-air geothermal heat pump systems. Bosch is a good option for builders that switch between geothermal and traditional heating systems depending on the type/size of home you are building.
As with any geothermal system, builders need to balance costs with benefits, but reports point to renewed interest and excitement in renewable energy and energy efficient homes among key markets of homebuyers. With that said, overcoming upfront cost challenges can be a lucrative decision.
According to a 2015 NAHB survey, 84 percent of Millennials are willing to pay extra for an energy-efficient home. Yet, even with this huge demand, only 25 percent of builders are offering renewable energy.
By including renewable energy sources, such as geothermal, you allow yourself to tap into this massive market of Millennials and green-minded Boomers.
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