Geothermal heating has been getting a lot of attention lately, due to the benefits that it offers as a home heating system. Geothermal heating is energy efficient, safe, and doesn’t run into some of the disadvantages that other heat pump systems have to deal with. Before you rush out to purchase a geothermal system, however, there are a few factors that you need to consider. Let’s take a look at the steps involved with installing a geothermal system, and how it affects the way that the heater operates.
Geothermal heating systems work by utilizing the thermal energy present approximately 10-15 feet underground. They are heat pumps, moving heat from one location to another instead of creating it through combustion. This thermal energy is fairly constant, as the subterranean temperature at that depth remains around 50-60 degrees. This is an important difference between geothermal systems and other heat pumps, which we’ll discuss later on.
The geothermal heating system accesses this thermal energy through a wide pipe loop, which is installed in a trench outside the house. This is normally done in a back or front yard, where there is lots of undeveloped space. The loop is usually horizontal, but can also be installed vertically if the space requires it. The loop is then filled with water or refrigerant, and connected to the central unit.
The Central Unit
The central geothermal unit is similar in construction to other heat pumps, with incoming and outgoing connections to the pipe loop and an air handler to distribute heat through the ducts. During operation, the heat pump circulates refrigerant out of the loop and into the unit, where it extracts the thermal energy before returning the refrigerant to the loop. This grants the heat pump an endlessly renewable heat source. This is the single greatest advantage that geothermal heat pumps have over other heat pumps. Most heat pumps take heat from the surrounding air, which loses most of its thermal energy when the temperature drops to extremely cold levels. Geothermal heating always has access to a pool of renewable thermal energy, while air source heat pumps do not.
If you’d like to know more about geothermal heating services, call G&S Heating, Cooling & Electrical, Inc. We provide geothermal services throughout the Kenmore area.