Finding a Knowledgeable HVAC Consultant
I’m not a pro builder but I’m building a small (800 sq ft) house here in the blistering hot Phoenix desert and will be installing the HVAC for it, as well. But for as much as I’ve researched the topic, I still feel like any design I come up with will be just throwing darts and hoping for a bullseye. Like put a mini-split (size to be determined later) and intake for an ERV in the living room; a transfer duct into the bedroom; and the exhaust for the ERV in the bathroom? Throw the dart… no idea what that will do until it’s far too late to change anything.
I realize that what I’d like is an HVAC expert to design a system for me that is guaranteed to hit all of my goals and then I’d just implement it.
But how do I find such an expert? You’d think that the local HVAC folks would be experts having to deal with hot weather all the time, but that’s been incredibly far from my experience? Most I’ve interacted with won’t even do a Manual-J and those that do will explicitly throw out the results because “they are always inaccurate”. Plus… I got an honest-to-goodness quote to install mini-splits in a 2600 sq ft single story home of $30,000! Not a joke.
Oh, and see above about this being a 800 sq ft house and me not being a pro. Maybe 4 out of every 5 building “resources” I contact simply never reply at all, since my single job is far too small to waste their time on. This will surely be a factor in finding an expert HVAC designer, as well.
So… any suggestions on how I can find such a person (or team)? Maybe places to look? Maybe key questions to ask in an interview-style search? Something else?
GBA Detail Library
A collection of one thousand construction details organized by climate and house part
Try Energy Vanguard. It is my understanding they work remotely and work all around the country. If you provide them all the data (R value, windows, overhangs, siting, etc) they can run an energy model, and from that determine the btu's needed and design a system.
The challenge will be in getting someone to install it properly.
CL is spot on in recommending Energy Vanguard. If you aren't familiar with the owner of that consultancy, Allison Bailes, you might want to read some of the innumerable articles he has contributed to GBA. Just search his name on the site and you will find almost 10 years' worth of exceptionally helpful information.
Yeah, I read pretty much everything that Allison writes so Energy Vanguard was definitely on the top of my mind. But.. reaching out to them feels not unlike reaching out to Steve Baczek as my architect. This is a very small project not really worthy of the "celebrities" in their spaces?
Celebrity status on GBA or not, their business is doing HVAC load calcs and designs. Part of what makes them good is having reasonable prices and being responsive to customers. They did good work for me. Just shoot them an email or give them a call.