Geothermal heat pumps are similar to ordinary heat pumps, but use the ground instead of outside air to provide heating, air conditioning and, in most cases, hot water. Because they use the earth’s natural heat, they are among the most efficient and comfortable heating and cooling technologies currently available.
Geothermal heat pumps use the natural heat stored deep under ground and pump it to the surface where it is used for heating or generating electricity. The technology relies on the fact that the Earth (beneath the surface) remains at a relatively constant temperature throughout the year, warmer than the air above it during the winter.
Geothermal heat pumps use the relatively constant temperature of the ground or water several feet below the earth’s surface as source of heating and cooling.
Geothermal heat pumps can be fitted into existing homes for heating or fitted into new homes. Geothermal heat pumps can also provide hot water for domestic homes and can be used in any size of building.
Geothermal heat Pumps
A geothermal heat pump system consists of indoor heat pump equipment, a ground loop, and a flow center to connect the indoor and outdoor equipment. The geothermal heat pump can be compared to a refrigerator only in reverse, by taking heat from one location which is under ground and placing it in another location which would be the home or building for which it is providing geothermal energy to. The ground loop, which is invisible after installation, allows the exchange of heat between the earth and the heat pump.
The geothermal heat pumps can be operated in an open or closed loop. The open loop system takes the water from the source of the geothermal heat and re-circulates it back into the well after it has been used and cools down. The closed loop uses water and an antifreeze solution in a ground loop of pipe to draw up the heat from the well.
Ground loops can be installed in a vertical well or a horizontal loop. Vertical wells are usually more expensive and used where space is limited. The length of loop pipe required will vary with soil type, loop configuration, and system capacity. Loop length can range from 250 to 1,000 feet per ton of capacity.
Heat pumps can incorporate variable speed blowers and multiple speed compressors. Add-on features include the capability to produce hot water.