Discover the World of Geothermal Heat Pumps: A Beginner's Handbook on System Types and the Advantages
Geothermal heat pumps (GHPs) are an efficient and eco-friendly way of heating and cooling a home or building. Unlike traditional HVAC systems, GHPs use the constant temperature of the ground to provide energy for heating and cooling. The technology behind geothermal heat pumps has been around for decades, but it has recently gained popularity due to the increasing demand for sustainable energy sources. In this beginner's guide, we'll be discussing the different types of geothermal heat pump systems and their advantages in greater detail.
Types of Geothermal Heat Pump Systems:
- Horizontal Loop System:
The horizontal loop system is the most common type of geothermal heat pump system. In this system, a series of pipes are buried horizontally in trenches that are about six feet deep. The length and width of the trenches depend on the heating and cooling requirements of the building. The pipes contain a mixture of water and antifreeze, which absorbs heat from the ground and carries it into the building.
One of the main advantages of a horizontal loop system is that it is relatively easy to install. This makes it ideal for residential applications. Additionally, it can be used in areas with a lot of available land. However, if space is limited, a horizontal loop system may not be feasible.
- Vertical Loop System:
A vertical loop system is used when there is limited space available for a horizontal loop system. In this system, a series of pipes are drilled vertically into the ground, reaching depths of up to 400 feet. The pipes are then connected to the heat pump and filled with the same mixture of water and antifreeze.
A vertical loop system is more expensive than a horizontal loop system due to the cost of drilling, but it can be used in areas where there is limited land available. In addition to being ideal for small lots, vertical loop systems can also be used for larger commercial and industrial applications.
- Pond/Lake Loop System:
A pond or lake loop system is used when there is a body of water located near the building that requires heating or cooling. In this system, a series of pipes are laid at the bottom of the body of water. The pipes are connected to the heat pump and filled with the same mixture of water and antifreeze.
A pond/lake loop system is the least expensive of the three types of geothermal heat pump systems, but it requires access to a body of water. If a body of water is available, this system can be a cost-effective option. It is important to note that the body of water must meet certain size and depth requirements in order to be used for a pond/lake loop system.
Factors to Consider When Choosing a Geothermal Heat Pump System:
- Heating and Cooling Requirements:
The heating and cooling requirements of the building will determine the type and size of geothermal heat pump system needed. It is important to have a professional assess the building's heating and cooling needs to determine the best system for the building.
- Available Land:
The amount of available land will determine whether a horizontal loop system is feasible. If there is limited space, a vertical loop system or a pond/lake loop system may be the better option. It is important to note that the size of the lot will also affect the size of the system needed.
- Access to a Body of Water:
If a pond/lake loop system is being considered, it is important to have access to a body of water that can be used for the system. The body of water must meet certain size and depth requirements in order to be used for a pond/lake loop system.
The cost of the geothermal heat pump system is an important factor to consider. Horizontal loop systems are typically less expensive than vertical loop systems, but vertical loop systems may be necessary in areas where
space is limited. The cost of drilling for a vertical loop system can be significant, but it may be worth the investment if the system is being used for a larger commercial or industrial application.
The climate is an important factor to consider when choosing a geothermal heat pump system. In areas with extremely cold winters or extremely hot summers, a geothermal heat pump system may not be able to provide enough heating or cooling. In these cases, a backup system may be necessary.
Advantages of Geothermal Heat Pump Systems:
- Energy Efficiency:
Geothermal heat pump systems are highly energy-efficient. They can save homeowners and building owners up to 70% on their heating and cooling costs compared to traditional HVAC systems. This is because they use the constant temperature of the ground to provide energy for heating and cooling.
Geothermal heat pump systems are also eco-friendly. They do not produce any greenhouse gas emissions, and they use renewable energy sources. This makes them a sustainable option for heating and cooling.
- Long Lifespan:
Geothermal heat pump systems have a long lifespan, typically lasting 25 years or more. This is longer than traditional HVAC systems, which typically last 15 years or less. This means that geothermal heat pump systems require less maintenance and fewer replacements over time.
- Quiet Operation:
Geothermal heat pump systems are also quiet. They do not produce the noise associated with traditional HVAC systems, making them ideal for residential applications.
Geothermal heat pump systems are an eco-friendly and efficient way to heat and cool a building. There are three types of geothermal heat pump systems: horizontal loop system, vertical loop system, and pond/lake loop system. Each system has its advantages and is ideal for different situations. When choosing a geothermal heat pump system, it is important to consider the heating and cooling requirements of the building, the amount of available land, access to a body of water, cost, and climate. With the right system in place, a building can enjoy efficient and sustainable heating and cooling for years to come.
Energy.gov. (2021, January 28). Geothermal Heat Pumps. Retrieved from https://www.energy.gov/energysaver/heat-and-cool/heat-pump-systems/geothermal-heat-pumps
Geothermal Energy Association. (n.d.). What is Geothermal Energy? Retrieved from https://geo-energy.org/what_is_geothermal_energy.aspx