Different Geothermal Heat Pump Types
There are many different types of heat pump systems, but the most common is a geothermal heat pump. It’s one of the best ways to utilize the earth’s heat for your home or business because it uses an already-existing resource to create energy.
The primary source of geothermal energy comes from the ground. As you probably know, the Earth generates a lot of heat deep down in its core. This heat rises through the mantle and crust, and then radiates into space. It also warms the surface, creating what is known as “ground-source” heat.
This process is very efficient, so using this heat is much more cost effective than other methods such as solar panels or wind turbines. Geothermal heat pumps take advantage of these natural processes by harnessing ground-source heat to move air across coils that transfer the heat from inside the building to outside. When used properly, they can work even when there isn’t enough direct sunlight to power a regular heat pump.
Geothermal heat pumps resemble standard designs. They do, however, transfer heat to and from the ground or water, not from the ambient air. Geothermal systems are more effective because ground and water temperatures are more stable than air temperatures.
In addition to efficiency, another reason why geothermal heat pumps are popular is because they don’t require any electricity to operate. They’re completely self-contained, meaning they produce no greenhouse gas emissions and can be powered with either electricity or renewable resources like biodiesel. These pumps don’t make electricity, however, which means they don’t contribute to grid overload.
Types of Geothermal Heat Pumps
Geothermal heat pumps come in three basic styles: free cooling, forced air heating, and reverse cycle. Free cooling is the simplest system and consists of just a baseboard coil in the floor or wall. This unit moves a small amount of air over the coil, transferring the heat to the indoor environment. Forced air heating consists of larger coils that move large volumes of air around the room. The difference between these two is how the indoor air circulates — in free cooling, the air flows directly from the outdoor coil to the indoor environment, while forced air heating forces the air through an exhaust fan before returning to the coil.
Reverse cycle systems use both heat exchangers at once. A compressor sucks outdoor air through one side and pushes it back out through the second side. It’s similar to a typical air conditioner, except instead of blowing cold air on the inside, the pump blows hot air on the outside. Reverse cycle heat pumps are the most expensive ones available, but they do have some advantages. Because it transfers the heat outdoors, it doesn’t need to worry about maintaining )a constant temperature indoors. If the outdoor air temperature drops below freezing, for example, it won’t cause a problem because all the heat produced will be transferred to the maakütte paigaldus (ground heating installation). Another benefit is that it can run 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.
Installing a geothermal heat pump can be tricky if you don’t have experience working with them. You’ll first need to install a well — typically a hole 5 feet deep and 2 feet wide — where the pump will sit. Next, dig a pit around the well, leaving 3-5 feet above the bottom. Finally, install steel pipes around the perimeter of the pit to hold in place the pump’s components. You’ll want to connect the pump to the pit with a water line so that the interior can be sealed off from the exterior, preventing moisture from getting into the unit.
You’ll need a permit to build and install a geothermal heat pump system because it requires the installation of a well and a drainage system. Some states, like California, require that you hire a licensed contractor to perform the installation, but others, like New York, have an independent licensing board that will allow you to install your own system. Check with your local government to see if you’ll need a permit before digging your well.
Like any other HVAC system, the life span of a geothermal heat pump depends on several factors. The most important factor is the number of times the system has been serviced. The less often it’s cleaned or repaired, the faster it will wear out. Most heat pumps last 10 years or longer, though some models may only last a few months without maintenance.
Another important factor is the quality of the seals. If the seals aren’t tight, dust and debris could get trapped in the system, causing damage to the motor, compressor, or condenser. Over time, this can lead to costly repairs. Also, poor seal quality increases the risk of carbon monoxide leaks, so if you suspect a leak, call an HVAC professional right away.
In addition to proper maintenance, you should check the system every month to ensure that everything is working correctly. Look for leaks around the seals and under the unit, and inspect the unit itself for signs of corrosion or rust. In addition to checking for problems, make sure you adjust the system’s thermostat to match the desired temperature. Adjust the thermostat to keep the inside of your house comfortable throughout the year, since this is the main purpose of a heat pump.
Pros & Cons
Here are the pros and cons of using geothermal heat pumps:
- Geothermal heat pumps are highly efficient, making them cost-effective.
- They’re environmentally friendly, since they don’t produce any greenhouse gases.
- They don’t require any additional electricity beyond what you’d normally generate.
- Installation of geothermal heat pumps may be difficult and costly. You’ll need to obtain a permit and hire a licensed contractor if necessary.
- Maintenance costs can be high; therefore, regular inspections and maintenance are crucial.
- A geothermal heat pump system may not be right for everyone. For instance, if you live in a region prone to hurricanes, you may be better off installing a traditional heat pump.
If you’re interested in learning more about the benefits of geothermal heat pumps, check out our guide to geothermal heat pumps. To learn more about geothermal heat pumps in general, visit our article on geothermal energy. Learn even more about geothermal heat pumps from our free online course.