Geothermal Heat Pump – Types, How Does it Work?

Geothermal energy has allowed many heats their homes throughout the winter, cool them throughout the summer and have plenty of hot water during the year.

The main question is: how will the heating and cooling mechanism be used to generate this abundant energy? A response: geothermal heat pumps.

Geothermal heat pumps are a technology that heats and cool buildings by heating up the almost constant temperature under the earth in every season.

Using a ground source heat pump, the earth is a steady temperature of approximately 50- and 60-degrees Fahrenheit just a few feet below the ground.

The temperature below the earth is cooler than in the summer the air that circulates over it. Geothermal heat pumps are often combined with solar heating to create a much more effective geosolar system.

Similar terms recognized include geothermal heating pumps, such as earth energy systems, ground power pumps, geoexchange and ground coupling.

Those terms depend on the place and field of research you are studying in. Scientists and engineers prefer to use heat pumps from ground sources and geoexchange to reduce confusion with traditional geothermal technology, which collects hot water from the earth a couple thousand feet deep for electricity generation.

In winter the heat below the ground is used as a medium-sized heat house, as heat is injected into the indoor air distribution system and extracted from the heat exchanger.

The cycle is reversed during the summer as heat pump transfers power from indoor air to the heat exchange.

Heat collected by the heat pump may also be used in the summer to heat water to provide a source of heated water.


How Does a Geothermal Heat Pump Work?

A geothermal thermal pump system contains three major parts: the heat pump unit, the ground heat exchange machine and the air supply system or duct system is used for heating and cooling. A series of tubing, called a loop, are installed under the ground a few feet from the house, which contains the heat exchanger.

Via the series of tubing, fluid is pumped to suck or distribute heat to the ground (a mixture of water and antifreeze). The fluid is normally merged to avoid freezing during Anti-freeze.

The activity of a groundwater heat pump is very similar to the cooler. A cold place (in the inside of the refrigerator) makes it much colder by transferring heat to a hotter spot (the region outside the bottom of the refrigerator),

Types of Geothermal Heat Pump Systems

Four major forms of ground loop systems are available. Three are closed-loop systems, which are horizontal, longitudinal and pond / lake systems. Open-loop system is the fourth form of system. Which of these depends most on the environment, quality of soil, land availability and local costs of construction in the site. Both methods may be used for residential and industrial projects.

Closed-Loop Systems

Most of the closed-loop heat pumps flow through a closed tube, typically made up of plastic tubing, by an antifreeze solution embedded in the ground or immersed in water. A heat exchanger passes power to a closed loop between the heat pump liquid and the anti-freeze solution. The circle can be built horizontally, vertically and pond / lake.

One variant of this method, called direct exchange, does not use a thermal exchanger and pumps the refrigerant in a horizontal or vertical system by means of copper piping. Direct exchange systems require a bigger compressor to operate well on saturated soil (sometimes allowing extra irrigation to retain soil damp), but installation on metal-corrosive soils should be avoided. Because refrigerant circulates through the soil, local environmental regulations can prohibit its usage in some areas.


In general, this type of project is most cost-effective for residential buildings, particularly when new construction is necessary. At least four feet deep trenches are needed. Two pipes, one placed at six feet, and the other at four feet, are used in the most common configuration, or two pipes positioned side by side in a region of a five-foot long trench and five feet in the earth. The looping pipe technique makes more pipes in a shorter trench, minimizing maintenance expenses and allowing horizontal installation in areas that are not traditional horizontal applications.


Large office structures and schools also utilize vertical systems, since they are expensive on the space available for horizontal loops. Vertical circles are often used when the surface is too small to trench and where damage to natural landscaping is reduced. For a vertical system holes are heated about 20 feet apart and about 100 to 400 feet wide (approximately 4 inches in diameter). Two pipes are attached in such pipes at the bottom of the hole to create a U-course. The horizontal pipe (i.e. multifaceted), embedded in barriers, and linked to the heat pump in the house, is used in the vertical loops.


This could be a lowest cost choice if the site has an adequate water supply. The supply line pipe runs from the house to the water underground and moves in loops beneath the soil for a total of eight feet, to prevent freezing. The spindles must be positioned only in a source of water which meets minimum volume, depth and quality requirements.

Open-Loop System

The heat exchange fluid which circulates directly through the GHP system, uses well or surface body water. The water goes to the earth from a pump, a storage well or groundwater drain, until it has been pumped through the system. This choice is clearly only useful if the water quality is sufficient and all local groundwater laws and regulations are agreed with.


Based on the case, the actual geothermal heat pump cost can differ greatly between the two types. The best approach to satisfy your needs relies heavily on the water supplies, types of soil and region that are accessible.

  • Closed loop systems pass water into a circular pipe tube, typically utilizing a liquid anti-freeze system. This form is used where water supplies are small, environmental laws are prohibitive and pond designs are usable.
  • Open loop systems utilize water from the surface or well to collect clean water from a well to discharge it through a separate pipe or drainage system. Open loops usually cost less install, reducing up to 60% or more. Nevertheless, replacing filters, water softening and well inspections are important for continuous maintenance.

You will also have to consider municipal regulations regulating open loop structures, which may damage the existing sources of water. To decide the form which best fits your situation and needs, consult a professional.


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