We have been talking about geothermal heat pumps, also known as ground source heat pumps, for several weeks now. But today we have decided to give you a better understanding of exactly how these mysterious machines work.
Geothermal heat pumps do not create heat like traditional heating systems (furnace). Instead, they MOVE heat. Using a substance called refrigerant, heat pumps transfer heat from one place to another – from outside to inside a home in the winter and vice versa in the summer. When compressed, refrigerant is a high temperature, high-pressure liquid. If allowed to expand, it turns into a low temperature, low pressure gas. This refrigerant travels through a series of pipes, called a loop, installed below the earth’s surface (which remains at a fairly constant temperature). During its journey, refrigerant absorbs heat and transferring it inside the home. This heat is then circulated through your home’s ductwork. As we mentioned before, this process is reversed in the summer.
Studies have shown that approximately 70% of the energy used in a geothermal heat pump is renewable energy from the ground, making these systems the most energy efficient heating and cooling systems around. Using a geothermal heat pump can reduce your energy bills by as much as 40%. And since they are mechanically simple with outside components below ground, maintenance costs are reduced as well.
If we didn’t have your attention before, we sure do now!
The types of geothermal heat pumps include:
Horizontal (Closed-Loop System)
Typically used for residential projects, horizontal geothermal heat pumps require sufficient land and trenches at least 4 feet deep. The most common layouts either use two pipes, one buried at six feet, and the other at four feet, or two pipes placed side-by-side at five feet in the ground in a two-foot wide trench.
Vertical (Closed-Loop System)
This type of GHP is typically used for commercial buildings and schools. For a vertical system, holes (approximately four inches in diameter) are drilled about 20 feet apart and 100–400 feet deep. . Into these holes go two pipes that are connected at the bottom with a U-bend to form a loop. The vertical loops are connected with horizontal pipe (i.e., manifold), placed in trenches, and connected to the heat pump in the building.
Pond/Lake (Closed-Loop System)
Perhaps the lowest cost option (if your site has a sufficient body of water nearby). A supply line pipe is run underground from the building to the water and coiled into circles at least eight feet under the surface to prevent freezing. The coils should only be placed in a water source that meets minimum volume, depth, and quality criteria.
This system uses well or surface body water as the heat exchange fluid, circulating directly through the GHP system. Once it has circulated through the system, the water returns to the ground through the well, a recharge well, or surface discharge. This option is obviously practical only where there is an adequate supply of relatively clean water, and all local codes and regulations regarding groundwater discharge are met.
If you have any questions about Geothermal Heat Pumps, please contact Fresh Air Concepts by calling 1-800-708-4FAC or click here today!
Fresh Air Concepts specializes in Heating, Air Conditioning, and Air Purification in both residential and commercial applications for the Maryland Area.
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