How to Select a Geothermal Installer

How to Select a Geothermal Installer – Brochure

Search the web and the most common caution you will find about geothermal is to “pick the right installer”. So what should you look for in an Installer?

Pick an installer that is certified, experienced, knowledgeable and trustworthy!

Certified

Pick an Installer that is at least IGSHPA certified. It does not guarantee they are competent, but it does mean they “know” the science and are aware of industry standards and best practices.

igshpaINTERNATIONAL GROUND SOURCE HEAT PUMP ASSOCIATION (IGSHPA)

The International Ground Source Heat Pump Association (IGSHPA) is the recognized certifying organization for geothermal installers.

NATENORTH AMERICAN TECHNICAL EXCELLENCE (NATE) – NATE TESTS; OTHERS TRAIN

NATE certified technicians have proven their knowledge in the HVACR industry by passing specialized NATE certification tests.

EPA LOGOENVIRONMENTAL PROTECTION AGENCY – CERTIFIED SERVICE TECHNICIANS

The EPA requires all technicians to be certified before performing maintenance, service, repair, or disposal of an appliance that contains refrigerant chemicals.

MANUFACTURERS CERTIFIED TRAINING

trainingMattersMost manufactures provide training to technicians on how to properly install their equipment. They also provide periodic updates to make installers aware of specific installation issues and new best practices. Not all companies require that installers attend this training. So pick an installer who has factory trained technicians.

Experienced

Pick an installer that has done a minimum of 300 installations and experience in buildings of similar size and style as yours.

The 300 installation mark usually separates out the “part timers” who lack the experience to consistently get things right. It also means that the installer has enough experience to avoid the more common problems and to see opportunities that less experienced installers will miss.

The type of installation experience is also important. Smaller homes with a single piece of equipment are significantly less complex than large executive homes with multiple sets of equipment and delivery systems. Having installed 300 small systems does not give you the experience necessary to install the larger system.

And there are many more issues than just size. So make sure the installer you pick has experience in the same type and size of home or building as yours.

Knowledge

Pick an installer that has the knowledge to follow the science.

There is a great deal of science and analysis that goes into the design and installation of a geothermal system.

  • Pick a designer that uses computer software to design the geothermal system. The software allows for more accurate calculations of BTU requirements. It allows for the designers to do multiple designs to find the highest performing and most cost effective design. It calculates the size of the loop field that will be required to support the design specifications.
  • Pick an installer who has full time employees. For full time employees, installing geothermal is a career, not a job. They are more motivated, more committed, and more able to use and apply the experiences they gain over the years.
  • Pick an installer who keeps advancing their knowledge through participation in professional organizations. These installers will be more aware of developing best practices and changes in technology.

Reputation

An experienced installer will have developed a reputation. Check it out!

FIT 2On the right are two fittings. The one on the right is a cheap, light weight fitting, made in China that cracked and had to be replaced. The one on the left is a heavier, thicker, name brand fitting. The only way to know which one your installer will use is to check out their reputation!

The only way you can “trust” an installer does high quality work is to check out their reputation. Any installer with over 300 installations will have developed a reputation that reflects the quality of their work. So check them out.

BBB Circle Log0Better Business Bureau ratings are often a good source of information to check out an installer. But you need to dig deeper that just their rating. Check out the number and types of complaints that have been made against the installer. This may help you spot negative trends in their performance.

Organizations such as Angie’s List are another good source of sponser2information about an installer’s reputation.

Ask for references. Talking to satisfied customers is an excellent source of information about an installer’s reputation. If they have at least 300 installations they should be able to provide references from customers with similar installations as yours.

 

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