The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency ranks geothermal systems as the most cost-effective space conditioning systems available. Lower operating and maintenance costs together with the systems’ long life give geothermal systems the lowest life cycle cost on the market.
These “boilerless/towerless” heat pump systems use the natural thermal properties of the earth to dissipate or capture heat for the water loop. Geothermal heat pumps operate in an identical fashion to water-source heat pump units. However, without the need for a boiler or cooling tower, geothermal heat pumps save substantial energy costs and space.
The water-loop system is underground and the units are inside the building. Thus, the environmentally friendly geothermal system preserves the architectural design of a building naturally.
Geothermal earth loops come in several different configurations depending on space availability and soil properties. Loop fields can be located under parking lots, landscaped areas, or any number of other locations. All earth loops use high-density polyethylene pipe to circulate either water or an antifreeze mixture. All joints and connection fittings are thermally fused to prevent leaks and most piping comes with a 25-year or longer warranty.
Vertical loops utilize bore holes drilled to an average depth of 250 feet. Once the loop pipe is inserted into the bore, it is grouted using a Bentonite mixture for maximum thermal conductivity.
When space is a limited, vertical loops are the most common type of geothermal loop installed.
Horizontal loops utilize trenches dug to an average depth of four to six feet.
As one of the more cost effective loops to install, horizontal loops are commonly found in open fields, parks or under parking lots.
Lake loops utilize a heat exchanger placed at the bottom of a pond, lake, or other large body of water.
An extremely cost effective loop system, lake loops are an easy alternative if the option is available.
Ground Water Systems
Most commonly known as “open loop”, ground water systems pump water out of a nearby body of water or water well, and then discharge the water into another body of water or water well. Ground water systems usually employ a plate heat exchanger inside the building to keep the building water loop separated from the ground water. This prevents any contaminates from affecting unit performance and extends system life. Ground water systems are often the most efficient as the ground water is always at the same temperature year-round.