Case Studies

Geothermal Heating Case Studies: New Geothermal Hydronic System in Penneville, NY

Tuesday, February 25th, 2014 by Matthew Crandall


This Penneville, NY home's existing geothermal system was constantly in need of repair and ran inefficiently when it was in proper working order — both of which were resulting in unnecessary expenses for the homeowners.


We were called upon to take a look at a 5-ton Geothermal System in Penneville, NY that had a detailed history of annual repairs, compressor replacements, and poor performance throughout the ten years of its application.  The system was a combination-style refrigerant-to-air geothermal heat pump system with water-based closed earth loop-style design.  The distribution system was both radiant tubing in-floor and forced air distribution throughout.  Aside from the constant repairs throughout the life of the system and their growing annual utility bill attributed to unnecessary electric heat auxiliary operation; one of the customer’s primary complaints was that the forced air operated almost constantly during heating mode when they had beautifully designed in-floor radiant.

Geothermal systems like this boast functionality in a single piece of equipment being able to provide both hydronic heat and forced air heat and air conditioning, but when approached from an efficiency and comfort perspective, leave many questions unanswered.  Our solution, readily embraced by the homeowner, was to take a fully hydronic approach-utilizing the radiant in-floor as a primary, quiet source of heat, while providing the exact same comforts of air conditioning using chilled water.

We were able to replace the existing water-to-air combination geothermal heat pump with a fully hydronic water-to-water-style 5-ton geothermal heat pump with much simpler engineering.  The existing 40 gal. buffer tank for the hydronic side was replaced with a more appropriate 80 gal. glass-lined buffer tank for more accurate storage capacity that also facilitated chilled water storage during the cooling season.  A hydronic air handler was incorporated to this new design to handle the air conditioning and backup heat for the system when necessary.  With a few other minor alterations to the existing system and some new controls, the results were uncanny.

Heating and cooling water directly is always more efficient than heating or cooling air, which is conditional to relative humidity--10 years of growing utility bills and constant modifications is a less-than-ideal way to reveal these details.

Where it appeared the previous systems technicians did all they could to successfully keep the existing system limping along, rest assured that no amount of duct tape will resolve a poorly matched design and distribution application.  Geothermal hydronic systems not only exhibit unsurpassed efficiencies for space heating and cooling, they unilaterally offer the quiet comfort and reliability that we believe every homeowner deserves.

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