Is a Geothermal Heat Pump Right for Your Company’s Needs?
Of all the HVAC systems currently available, a geothermal heat pump provides the greatest number of benefits combined with the most effective and economical operation. Here is a brief guide to geothermal heat pumps that can help you decide if this type of HVAC system is the best solution for your company’s needs.
Basics of geothermal heat pump operation
Geothermal heat pumps operate, at base, like other types of heat pumps: They capture heat from one location and move it to another. Unlike an air-source heat pump that pulls heat out of the air, geothermal systems use either the ground or a body of water for heat capture and release.
The unit consists of an indoor heat pump system and an outdoor series of pipes. In a ground-source heat pump, those pipes, called the ground loop, are buried at a depth in the ground where the temperature stays roughly the same all year round. In a water-source heat pump, the loop is placed in a well, aquifer, lake or pond at a depth where the water remains the same temperature.
An antifreeze solution flowing through the pipes serves as the medium for heat transfer. For cooling, the system absorbs heat from your indoor environment and expends it outdoors. For heating, the unit captures heat from the water or ground, then moves that heat into your building.
Types of geothermal heat pump installations
- Closed-loop systems: Closed-loop installations can be found in both ground-source and water-source systems. These pipe systems are closed off, which means the heat-transferring antifreeze solution always stays within the pipes. Ground-source closed-loop systems are further divided into horizontal or vertical installations. Horizontal installations require considerable open ground area near your building or facility for putting in the loop system horizontally across the ground. Vertical installations bury the loop system deeper into the ground in drilled vertical holes. Vertical systems are often used in urban settings, where the soil is rocky or thin, or where there is not enough open ground area for a horizontal loop system.
- Open-loop systems: Open-loop systems use water from a well, pond, lake or aquifer as the heat-transfer medium. The water leaves the water source and circulates through the heat pump, where heat is extracted or transferred. The expended water then either returns to the source, to a recharge well or to a surface drainage system. Open-loop systems require a sufficient supply of water and careful adherence to local regulations governing groundwater discharge.
Benefits of a geothermal heat pumps
Geothermal heat pumps provide many attractive benefits to business and facility owners and managers.
- Exceptional efficiency: A geothermal heat pump can reach efficiency levels as high as 600 percent during heating operations, returning six units of heat for every unit of electricity consumed.
- High levels of cost savings: Geothermal systems can reduce your monthly heating and cooling bills by 25 to 50 percent, according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.
- Quick recovery of costs: A geothermal system can pay for itself by about the halfway point of its expected lifespan through monthly energy savings alone.
- Wide applicability: Geothermal heat pumps are appropriate for any size facility and can be retrofitted to accommodate existing structures.
- Low maintenance: Loop systems often last 50 years, while the heat pump units can last for 20 years or more.
- High safety levels: Geothermal systems are very safe since they do not burn fuel. They are also quiet and environmentally friendly, since the units do not produce greenhouse gas emissions.
Our goal is to help educate our customers about Plumbing, HVACR, Fire Protection and Alarm Systems in Mechanical, Commercial and Residential settings. For more information about the importance of energy efficiency for your company, and how a geothermal heat pump can help achieve it, and to view projects we’ve worked on, visit our website!
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