There are four basic installation options for the loop systems of geothermal heat pumps, three of which are closed-loop systems. The one you choose will depend on the condition of the soil, land availability and the local cost of installation. Each of these installation options can work for either residential or commercial applications, though some are more feasible than others for different situations.
- Horizontal closed loop: This option is typically chosen for new residential construction projects where plenty of land is available. Four-foot-deep trenches are dug, and pipes are placed side by side in the ground.
- Vertical closed loop: Schools and other large commercial buildings might use this option because it requires less land and shallower trenches. Four-inch-wide holes are drilled 100 to 400 feet into the ground. Pipes connected at the bottom with a U-bend are inserted into these holes to form a loop. These are connected to a horizontal pipe that is attached to the heat pump in the building.
- Pond/lake closed loop: If a building is constructed near a substantial body of water, this is the lowest-cost option for the loop systems of geothermal heat pumps to be installed. Pipes run in coiled circles at least eight feet beneath the surface to prevent freezing. The water source must meet certain criteria to be eligible for this kind of installation.
- Open loop: A supply of relatively clean water must be available for this option to work. Water acts as the heat exchange fluid as it circulates through the system. After going completely through the system, water returns to the ground to be recirculated later.
In addition to these four basic options for installing the underground portion of geothermal heat pumps, there are also hybrid systems that combine geothermal resources with other technology for heightened energy savings and increased home comfort.
For more information about any of these systems, including the possibility of having a hybrid system, contact Overland Park Heating & Cooling in Kansas City.
Our goal is to help educate our customers about energy and home comfort issues (specific to HVAC systems). For more information about geothermal installation options and other HVAC topics, download our free Home Comfort Resource guide.