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Geothermal and radiant heating

In a few years, we will be doing a massive renovation of our house and we are in the planning stages now. One of the things we are thinking about is doing a geothermal system but instead of an air handler, we would like to do an in floor radiant heat system. Looking on line, it says that it is possible, but everyone that I have talked who has a geothermal system as a forced air system.

Does anyone in here have an in-floor radiant geothermal system?

*As a side note, we are also looking at installing a whole house air filter with heat exchanger.

Re: Geothermal and radiant heating

I think I've seen some chatter about using geothermal for domestic hot water, so radiant heat should be possible. However, most geothermal systems are used for both heat and AC so it makes since to go forced air. Its less complicated that way.

Re: Geothermal and radiant heating


I have been doing standard hydronic installations for many years, and have one in my own home, and am familiar with many of the components of that go into geothermal and radiant heating.

I have read your blog info about your refurbishing of the 3500 sq.ft. house you have there in Grand Rapids, and can understand your feeling that you would rather do renovation & repair projects on a DIY basis, than spend $$$ on hiring a contractor for this, that or the other---I can understand your feeling on this, and it IS possible to save lots of $$$ on quite a number of DIY ventures.

However in your case, I wonder if you have taken into consideration some of the strategic planning considerations-----you seem to have a well-built house in a good neighborhood, but that seems rather large for a family of 3; I wonder if the house may be better suited to being once again divided into rental property, or condominiums; there are considerable financial and IRS advantages of renting out even a small portion of your home; IRS allows rental occupancy for that portion of the house for just part of the year; you can even rent a small portion of your property as a rental unit to a relative, in a setup that will insure the privacy of both landlord and tenant; IRS has always supported the concept of apt. rentals & has a liberal policy toward them in view of the national shortage of housing rental units, and the recognition that not everyone can afford to buy a home, or even needs to for that matter.

Any repairs done to the rental portion are fully tax deductible from your annual income; this includes such big ticket items as heating systems, AC systems, etc., or any portions thereof----it's a good idea to hire a tax return service in your area for at least the first year if you decide to go the rental route; they can also explain the many tax savings benefits connected with having even a portion of your home as temporary rental property.

In addition, geothermal/radiant heating systems are great systems to have, but the initial investment can be $40k to $50k when you consider the excavations for the PEX tubing fields and the expensive equipment that will have to be bought up front.

It may be in your best interest to consider your current residence as a relatively short-term rental investment property, with an eye toward a future single family suburban residence where you will spend 20 to 40 years as your lifelong residence-----the suburban residence where you will spend 20 to 40 years is the place where you might plan on sinking $50k into a geothermal/radiant system, not a 3500 sq.ft. Victorian that could turn into a never-ending money pit if you're not careful.

You could then decide to retain the rental property as a source of income, or sell it as you become more financially solvent in the future.

I can tell you from personal experience that the years fly by as quickly as a wink; don't get lost on making diy repairs & find some years down the road that you can't do physical work anymore due to an unforeseen medical condition, or other storms of life issues.

I encourage you to talk (free of charge) to some of the real estate agents in your area on this topic---they deal with these issues every day and can provide good insight in the areas of strategic planning.

Re: Geothermal and radiant heating

Thanks for the response. One of the reasons we bought the house was because of the size. We plan on having 4 children, (number 2 is due in march) so diving up the house is not something that we would really want to do. In the 30’s, the servants bedroom was rented out for quite awhile, then in the 60’s it was actually converted into apartments. Then about 8 years ago, it was turned back into a single family home.

I realize that installing a geo-thermal system is not a DIY project, but now that we are thinking about doing more of a full gut renovation, it would be something that we could include. But hire a company to come in and very carefully remove, catalog, and restore all the woodwork, most of which will be reinstalled when the house is finished with modern technology.

We anticipate our house being fully paid off in the next 3 or 4 years and would be able to pay cash for the renovation at that point, including the geo-thermal process. Being a big Dave Ramey fan, I don’t finance stuff and after we bought this house, we decided to pay cash for everything.

I am guessing from your response, geo-thermal can be used as an in-floor radiant system.

Re: Geothermal and radiant heating

Do you have natural gas? I think overall, you'd be better off with either a forced air gas furnace or a boiler. For old home retrofits, I like mixing high velocity heat pump system with a hydronic coil running off a regular boiler or a tankless water heater.

THe truble with geothermal in MI, is that you cooling load is a LOT lower than you heating. SO you end up over-sizing the system for heating and will have trouble removing humidity in cooling even with a 2 stage system.

I'd spend the money on comfort, than chasing marginal returns on effiency. Geothermal makes a lot of sense out in the country hen you propane it your only alternative.

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