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Looking for Metro Boston Contractors (Cambridge Clean Heat)

mrmikesimons
mrmikesimons Member Posts: 21
Hi All,
I'm serving as the City of Cambridge's Clean Heating Technical Advisor (more or less help people decide if ductless makes sense for their home or condo).

The "Find a Contractor" tool has a lot of people who appear to no longer be in business, and don't appear to be reflective of the insightful professionals that follow the boards and threads, so I thought it would be worth posting this (though for my own project, I found my contractor using that tool! I'm in Central Mass).

Most of the consultations, I rightfully say don't toss your hydronics/steam in the trash, so while the "leads" are mostly ductless-- I am transparent in the fact that hydronics have gotten their home through the last 100 years and will likely be playing a supporting role in what comes next.

In my ideal world, I'm looking for owner operators who take heat load calculations seriously and will be there to not just install the system but maintain it for the next 15 years.

Anyone I should be reaching out to?
Putting the fun in fundamentals of energy | Central MA
https://www.linkedin.com/in/mrmikesimons/

Comments

  • Steamhead
    Steamhead Member Posts: 14,771

    The "Find a Contractor" tool has a lot of people who appear to no longer be in business

    Those listings are periodically renewed, therefore should be current. What has happened that makes you think they're no longer in business?
    All Steamed Up, Inc.
    Steam, Vapor & Hot-Water Heating Specialists
    Oil & Gas Burner Service
    Consulting
  • EBEBRATT-Ed
    EBEBRATT-Ed Member Posts: 9,727
    I don't know how many on this forum thing heat pumps are viable in a Massachusetts winter. I am sure there are some.

    Not my cup of tea to spend time running a compressor to defrost when the OA is below 25 degrees. JMHO
  • Jamie Hall
    Jamie Hall Member Posts: 16,618
    I think @EBEBRATT-Ed 's comment needs to really be paid attention to (as usual!). For better or worse, @mrmikesimons , you are going to have to convince the contractors -- not just the ones on this site, but in general -- that the technology you are trying to sell will do the job, or they just won't support it, My own opinion is that so far as I have seen, at the moment, the technology is very good for shoulder season heat and, of course, air conditioning. It may be suitable as sole source heat along the immediate coast line. It is not suitable -- I'll say that flatly -- as the primary heat source in inland New England, at least at the present time. IMHO
    Br. Jamie, osb
    Building superintendent/caretaker, 7200 sq. ft. historic house museum with dependencies in New England
  • woobagooba
    woobagooba Member Posts: 129
    I am having trouble interpreting your questions. You are looking to identify Cambridge area contractors who are expert at sizing, installing, and maintaining cold climate heat pumps?

    Perhaps start with surrounding areas ...
    https://concordma.gov/2399/Heat-Pumps
    http://wepowr.com/heatsmartaw



  • mrmikesimons
    mrmikesimons Member Posts: 21
    @Steamhead two of the contractors websites are down/not real. One is positioning themselves as a kitchen/bathroom remodeling company. I emailed the other, and the other has a sister company already doing ductless. So the pickings are slim off the list!
    Putting the fun in fundamentals of energy | Central MA
    https://www.linkedin.com/in/mrmikesimons/
  • mrmikesimons
    mrmikesimons Member Posts: 21
    @EBEBRATT-Ed Totally understand the concern. I'm lucky, in Cambridge I just have a design temp @12 degrees to worry about. Plus a lot of multi-families with much lower loads. I'm a big fan of accurate manual-j's, manufacturer's submittals, and the NEEP ASHP database when exploring with heat pumps make sense. At the same time, I'm also a big fan of redundancy, things that have lasted 100-years and will likely last 100 more (if properly maintained)-- so that is why I'm reaching out here instead of just telling people to go find contractors from Mitsubishi's website :wink:
    Putting the fun in fundamentals of energy | Central MA
    https://www.linkedin.com/in/mrmikesimons/
  • mrmikesimons
    mrmikesimons Member Posts: 21
    @Jamie Hall This is a discussion worth having. I know that a lot of people on this forum when talking about steam vs hydronics (related to efficiency) will say that a BTU is a BTU. It doesn't matter whether it is in the distribution or the emitter, all that matters is that it is in the home (and not up the chimney). I wonder if you were to look at a submittal, and see a heat pump product that is listed at 36kBTU @5 degrees why is that BTU less reliable other than a snow-pocalypse encasing the outdoor unit? While all the heat pump manufacturer's have traditional units with significant capacity drop off's I would like to get an understanding of whether there is just not awareness of the Hyperheat, Max Performance, XLHT type of products that do hold their capacity down to the single digits. Or is it more that Polar Vortex's are real and you want a system that can handle whatever mother nature can throw at the home?

    And to your point of convincing contractors. That is up to the supply houses, and distributors :) I'm just trying to pin down some great plumbers who added ductless to their toolbox to compete with Central A/C and HVAC guys.
    Putting the fun in fundamentals of energy | Central MA
    https://www.linkedin.com/in/mrmikesimons/
  • mrmikesimons
    mrmikesimons Member Posts: 21
    @woobagooba my company is running the Concord heat pump program! There are a ton of great contractors on the list, but a large chunk of them are full service shops. I'm trying to pin down some owner/operator types of contractors, who are installing heat pumps but still love hydronics/steam-- instead of companies that would send out "comfort advisors"
    Putting the fun in fundamentals of energy | Central MA
    https://www.linkedin.com/in/mrmikesimons/
  • Jamie Hall
    Jamie Hall Member Posts: 16,618
    With regard to that discussion, @mrmikesimons ... it's a long one, and since it is at the intersection between science (real science), engineering, money, and politics, it's likely to get fractious.

    For instance, if you were to have a chance for a really long chat with me, you would find that I'm a big proponent of direct passive solar heating for new construction structures -- and that my father-in-law (since passed) and I were designing and building truly 100% passive (except for small fans) solar buildings 40 years ago (a dining hall at The Cambridge School in Weston is one of them).

    The biggest problem for me with heat pumps is not, oddly, their ability to function. Although there efficiency does drop significantly as the temperature of the source drops, and they sometimes really suffer if they are air source and the dewpoint of the source is below the evaporator target temperature and a few other problems. And although their long term reliability is far worse than a boiler -- thus higher costs to the owner and more adverse environmental impact from the resources used to make them...

    For some applications they are wonderful, and I have recommended that they be used. For new construction and for some rehabs, ground source heat pumps are really good.

    No. It's that they are sold as far more efficient in using fossil fuels than steam or hot water, and that they should be used (required?) because, like spinach, they're good for you and the planet (I have exactly the same problem with electric cars -- they're great, but zero emissions they aren't). Which is pretty close to spiked Kool-Aid.

    If one is going to sell something -- at least to me -- sell it on its real merits. And, frankly, examined that way, while you can replace steam with ground source heat pumps (my college, in Minnesota, has) you have to recognise that for most structures with existing steam or hot water hear this is not going to be the most cost effective choice, nor will it be compatible with restoration rather major rehab.
    Br. Jamie, osb
    Building superintendent/caretaker, 7200 sq. ft. historic house museum with dependencies in New England
    Rich_49
  • woobagooba
    woobagooba Member Posts: 129
    edited June 15

    @woobagooba my company is running the Concord heat pump program! There are a ton of great contractors on the list, but a large chunk of them are full service shops. I'm trying to pin down some owner/operator types of contractors, who are installing heat pumps but still love hydronics/steam-- instead of companies that would send out "comfort advisors"

    Cool. I'm coming your way soon for a rebate.