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Old 01-19-2008, 12:53 PM
 
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My husband and I are planning to retire in Maine, and are very interested in renewable sources of heat and electric in the home we plan to build. I’m having trouble finding information on the feasibility of using a geothermal heat-exchange system as the primary heat source in Maine. The idea seems to have caught on in other states, but I keep running into a stone wall when it comes to Maine. I’m beginning to think that the climate and/or topography in Maine isn’t conducive to this type of technology. Please share your thoughts on this subject.
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Old 01-19-2008, 01:16 PM
 
Location: West Michigan
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There are vary mixed reviews on the geo-thermal heat pumps here. I cannot say anything about downstate, but up here the problem has been both topography and climate. The regular type that you bury the piping has had trouble because of the depth you have to bury it due to the frost line. The newer deep-well style might have some merits, but the layer of "ledge" is very near the surface and the cost of drilling the number of holes to run that style is cost prohibitive in the long run. I have seen new homes that the foundations were a pain to put in because the layer of rock was just 2 or 3 feet under the surface. A hole bored a couple of hundred feet through solid rock gets expensive fast, multiply that by the number of holes needed for the climate and you are talking some real money. My brother is a heating guy and they have tried a few of the other types and they just cannot keep up with the real cold spells we get without running an astronomical amount of line outside. He is looking into the deep well style right now, but with the cost there have been no takers.
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Old 01-19-2008, 01:51 PM
 
Location: Forests of Maine
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Originally Posted by fkelley View Post
My husband and I are planning to retire in Maine, and are very interested in renewable sources of heat and electric in the home we plan to build. ...
I have been told that heat pumps are not efficient here.

Every Saturday there is a radio talk show called: "Hot and Cold" hosted by a University of Maine - Orono professor and a heating system and insulation guy.

Saturday 7-10am "Hot and Cold" hosted by Tom Gocze with Dr. Dick Hill. Maine's Home Improvement Program since 1989. Hot and Cold focuses on home improvements, building science and energy efficiency. It is WVOM's longest running local program and originated in the late 1980s

Listen to Hot and Cold Online

Before you finalize your home design you really need to listen to these guys.
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Old 01-19-2008, 04:17 PM
 
Location: Waldo County
1,220 posts, read 3,508,014 times
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Originally Posted by fkelley View Post
My husband and I are planning to retire in Maine, and are very interested in renewable sources of heat and electric in the home we plan to build. Iím having trouble finding information on the feasibility of using a geothermal heat-exchange system as the primary heat source in Maine. The idea seems to have caught on in other states, but I keep running into a stone wall when it comes to Maine. Iím beginning to think that the climate and/or topography in Maine isnít conducive to this type of technology. Please share your thoughts on this subject.
Geothermal heat pumps work exceedingly well in Maine. ANYWHERE in Maine. There are three basic types of geothermal heat pump. One is a direct exchange where the heat exchanger is put into the ground in loops and buried. The depth of the trench is normally five feet, and can be made with a trencher, instead of a backhoe. The coolant circulated is a non-toxic antifreeze and if sufficient loop area is buried, and the heat pump is sufficiently powerful...most homes in Maine will require at least four or five tons of compressor "power", the heat pump will work exceedingly well.

The water to air, or water to water heatpumps that require well drilling are a bit different. A well is drilled to a depth of, perhaps five or six hundred feet and a polycarbonate tube is inserted into the well. The well is then filled with a "filler" and effectively sealed. Antifreeze solution is then pumped down to the bottom of the well and back up, and into the heat pump. Sometimes multiple wells are drilled, although one deep well is sufficient.

Then there is water to water, where water is pumped from a deep well and put through the heat pump. The issue with a water to water exchange is that there needs to be a way to put the water back into the ground.

Then there is air to air. Conventional "wisdom" states emphatically that air to air heat pumps do not work in Maine because Maine is too cold. This is information that became outdated sometime in the 1980s when a new company developed a cold weather heatpump. After a decade or so of litigation for various reasons, the company is now alive and well and producing air to air heat pumps from just outside of Bangor. They have another model coming onto the market next year that will be air to water for use with hydronic heating systems.

You should look at Nordic Heat Pumps that are manufactured in Pedicodiac, New Brunswick, and Hallowell International in Hallowell for heat pumps designed to provide heat for cold climates.

My understanding is that the Nordic Heat Pumps use 14 amp motors and the coefficient of production for either Nordic Geothermal pumps OR Hallowell International is on the order of four to one.
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Old 01-20-2008, 07:48 AM
 
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Default Thanks...

Thanks for the feedback folks. You've all given me stuff to think about and to look in to. Thanks to forest beekeeper for pointing me to the radio program. I’m living in New York, but will try to bring the program in when next it airs.
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Old 01-20-2008, 08:23 AM
 
Location: Northern Maine
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The antenna for The Voice of Maine on 103.9 FM is atop Passadumkeag Mountain. It has a very long reach. If your location is east of the Hudson and at a high elevation you might be able to get it.
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Old 01-20-2008, 09:24 AM
 
Location: Maine's garden spot
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Originally Posted by Northern Maine Land Man View Post
The antenna for The Voice of Maine on 103.9 FM is atop Passadumkeag Mountain. It has a very long reach. If your location is east of the Hudson and at a high elevation you might be able to get it.

It seems to be on-line also... Forest posted a link that I will have to try.
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Old 01-20-2008, 09:59 AM
 
Location: Forests of Maine
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Originally Posted by fkelley View Post
My husband and I are planning to retire in Maine, and are very interested in renewable sources of heat ...
We were once living in Scotland and owned a home there. During that time we were introduced to home heating using Coal and peat. Peat is 'mined', because it was traditionally considered a mineral. Many of the greater peat bogs in Northern Europe were stripped bare, before they learned to maintain peat in a sustainable manner.

Today they are able to harvest a peat bed, and come back to harvest it again every 6 to 8 years. So it is seen as an entirely renewable source of heating.

We bought land that is very near to some pat bogs and fens. And we have some peat growing on my land.

I have harvested peat and we have been heating our home partially using peat.

I have been studying Sphagnum Moss and it's growth habits.

I have also been transplanting Sphagnum Moss around on my land, to encourage it to grow better.

If you are looking at renewable/sustainable heat sources in Maine, I would recommend that you not forget woodlots and /or peat.

Harvesting peat does that a bit of time and energy, using mostly a pitch-fork and gunny sacks.
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Old 01-21-2008, 09:04 AM
 
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Forest, what kind of stove do you use to burn the peat?
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Old 01-21-2008, 10:17 AM
 
Location: Forests of Maine
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Originally Posted by fkelley View Post
Forest, what kind of stove do you use to burn the peat?
I have a two-barrel [two 55-gallon drums] stove. Rated at 200KBtu

The kits are available on-line through 'NorthernTool' for about $50. I got the drums free. I lined the bottom drum with refractory cement so it will take hotter than 3,000F.

Our upper barrel was first modified to be a secondary combustion chamber, introducing preheated air into the hot gases coming off from the primary combustion. This raises the combustion efficiency a lot.

Then I further modified it by wrapping the upper drum with copper tubing and circulating water through that. To supply our thermal-bank with hot water. The thermal bank supplies our radiant floor system [as one of three sources of heat: propane, and electric are the other two].

We burn wood, peat, coal, cardboard, wood chips, saw dust, newspaper logs, most anything.

I have photos, if anyone would care to see them.

"If women don't find you handsome, they should at least find you handy"
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