Wolff Brother Supply Inc. recently welcomed contractors from all over Ohio to its Geo Expo. The event, held in Medina, Ohio, was put on with the help of ClimateMaster.

Each contractor spent close to an hour at each of the six stations to get a better grasp of the geothermal sector. The stations included Geo 101, pond loop, vertical drilling, directional drilling, new geothermal equipment, and horizontal geoexchange.

It is Tom Rundle’s, HVAC product manager, Wolff Brothers, interest in physics and new technology that make him the go-to guy for all things geo at Wolff Brothers.

“We couldn’t be happier with the results of today’s turnout,” Rundle said. “The customers are engaged and glad to be here. They’re really pleased to see all of the work stations, and to have ample opportunity to learn about so many facets of the technology, and to ask questions. Their level of interest is especially high, too. We’re getting some great feedback from them.”

One such individual was Mark Maddamma, partner and service manager at Swingle Plumbing, Heating & Cooling in Lodi, Ohio.

“We do service and repair work. Currently we do no geothermal, but it’s got real potential for us in our service work and also for replacements. I’m glad I’m here because we get to see so many stations and can get a real understanding of what’s involved with geothermal from so many different perspectives,” Maddamma said. “The Geo Expo also ties real nicely to some training Wolff Bros. did here two years ago. At that time, they didn’t have the hands-on workstations, but now we’re getting that, and closer to the technology.”

Pond Loops

Sean Hogan, trainer for ClimateMaster, taught the interested contractors at the pond loop station. Hogan has done hundreds of pond loops as a contractor in Washington and shared his knowledge.

“You need at least 10 feet in depth. The key need is to protect the safety of swimmers. Be sure the loop isn’t in the mud. That greatly restricts water movement around the coils. With 300 lineal feet of loop per ton, a pond loop requires about one-half what’s needed for a drilled loop — that’s smart — also, no disruption and no thermal grout. It’s also a quick method for geoexchange, both in terms of installation and recovery speed when in use (assuming proper installation),” Hogan said.

In Rich Gibson’s Geo 101 class, contractors learned the ABCs of geothermal. ClimateMaster’s Northeast residential manager took attendees through a numbers-crunching exercise toward the end of his presentation.

He was demonstrating the total cost of ownership over a 20-year period, which includes purchase, interest, maintenance, and cost of operation. He said contractors should offer geothermal for many reasons:

• It is still emerging, with less than 7 percent penetration, so it’s a growth product market.

• Geothermal allows you to sell up.

• Geothermal benefits customers.

• It also has a higher profitability for installers. And,

• Geothermal is good for the environment; many homeowners are now thoughtful of the need for environmental stewardship.

Wolff Brothers makes a commitment to training their customers, and the Geo Expo was just one example.

“We have been looking at it the last couple years. It is a really worthwhile program. It is a way to bring customers in and get them more familiar with Wolff Brothers. Hopefully they learn about the products and how to install them,” Howard Wolff, president, said. “Training is important, especially for items like geothermal. It is very critical that people know and understand the technology.”

Publication date: 10/15/2012