Ground Source Heat Pumps

Ground source heat pump uses pipes which are buried inside the ground to extract heat that is present in the ground. This heat in turn is used to heat radiators, underfloor, warm air heating systems and hot water in homes. A ground source heat pump typically circulates a mixture of water and antifreeze around a loop of pipe, known as the ground loop. The process is such that heat from the ground is absorbed by the fluid and then passes to the pipe with the help of a heat exchanger. The advantage of such heat pumps is that as the ground stays at a constant temperature, these pumps can be used throughout the year.

As far as the structure of the ground loop is concerned, the most important is the length of the loop. The length of the loop depends on the size of the home that is to be heated and the amount of heat requirement. Longer loops can undoubtedly extract more heat but they require a larger space to be buried but when there is a space constraint one can even use vertical loop instead that can be drilled into the ground.

Here it needs to be noted that ground source heat pumps are categorized based on the loops they use. They are the open loop and the closed loop. Open loop systems are the oldest and most cost effective forms of ground source heat pumps. In this method ground water is used as the heat carrier and is directly brought to the heat pump. These system typically requires a supply of ample, shallow and pure ground water.

Closed loop on the other hand uses a loop containing water or a glycol solution through the ground loop and uses a refrigerant loop to transfer the heat to the heat pump. The ground loop can be laid vertically or horizontally in the ground or it can also be laid in a pond or in a lake.

The horizontal loop is a less expensive option because it involves digging not so deep a trench while a vertical loop involves digging a deep well.

Now let us have a look at the advantages and the disadvantages of ground source heat pumps.

The advantages are the following:



• Ground source heat pumps saves money because they are less expensive than electric heaters, oil boilers and gas boilers.
• They save carbon emissions.
• They save space as there is no need for fuel storage.
• Heat pumps are comparatively safe as there is no combustion involved.
• Ground source heat pumps require less maintenance when compared with combustion based heat pumps.
• A well-designed ground source heat pumps can increase the value of a property.

However, there are some problems associated with ground source heat pumps as well.

First of all, installing a ground source heat pump is an expensive exercise altogether. Secondly, various problems can arise if the ground source heat pumps are not installed properly. Factors like movement of heat in the ground, local geology, and the heating and cooling requirements of the building needs to be taken into consideration while installing these heat pumps. Hence, it is best to get services only from an expert.

 

 

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