4 Types of Geothermal HVAC Systems

Geothermal heat pumps work a lot like traditional heat pumps. But they transfer heat energy between your Thomasville, Georgia, home and the ground or a nearby body of water rather than the outdoor air. Soil and water temperatures don’t change as much with the seasons as air temperatures do. Therefore, geothermal HVAC systems can transfer heat using less energy than conventional heat pumps. The main types of geothermal HVAC systems include horizontal, vertical, closed-loop and open-loop systems.

Horizontal Systems

Horizontal geothermal HVAC systems, also called horizontal loops, use pipes filled with water or refrigerant. These pipes are buried in horizontal trenches in the ground. Horizontal systems don’t require much maintenance. As a result, they’re often the most economical option for new homes or new additions. But you need a large lot for installation to accommodate the hundreds of feet of pipes, and the soil must be easy to dig. To add a horizontal geothermal system to an existing home, you may need to disturb mature trees or other landscaping.

Vertical Systems

Instead of horizontal trenches for its pipes, a vertical geothermal HVAC system uses holes in the ground that are a few inches wide and hundreds of feet deep. Most vertical systems have pipes in several different holes. But they’re so small that they won’t disturb your home’s landscaping. The vertical tubes inside these holes connect with horizontal pipes called manifolds that lead to the heat exchanger.

Vertical systems are ideal for small lots or places that don’t have the amount of soil suitable required for a horizontal loop system. They also work efficiently in large commercial buildings that need long pipe systems. Since these places usually have parking lots and other paved areas nearby, installing a horizontal loop isn’t practical or cost-effective. However, some companies choose to submerge their systems’ pipes in artificial ponds.

Closed Loops

Most geothermal HVAC systems use plastic or copper pipes constructed in closed loops. They can be buried in the ground or submerged in a nearby lake or pond. A compressor sends refrigerant or water through these conduits, transferring heat away from your home in summer. Like a conventional heat pump, you can reverse the flow of water or refrigerant in winter to provide heating instead of cooling.

Along with an indoor air handler and ductwork, many geothermal heat pumps use a radiant heating system. Warm or hot pipes in your floors or walls transfer heat directly to your indoor air, and they can save energy and make a convenient supplement for the other parts of your system. Radiant heating can also prevent cold floors when you get out of bed or step out of the shower.

Open Loops

Geothermal heating and air conditioning systems with open loops use pipes that circulate water from a well, a nearby lake or a pond. The water travels freely between its source and the pipes. Open-loop systems that use fresh, drinkable water can also act as water heaters. As a result, you won’t need to worry about maintaining, replacing or storing a separate unit.

If you already have a pond, lake or well on your property, placing pipes underwater for an open-loop system is often less costly than having horizontal or vertical holes dug for subterranean pipes. However, you need special filters to keep algae, dirt and other contaminants from harming an open-loop geothermal heat pump. You’ll also need reliable filters to make sure that the water is safe to drink.

Waller Heating & Air Conditioning is a Trane Comfort Specialist, and we guarantee 100-percent customer satisfaction. We’re a family business with more than half a century’s worth of HVAC experience. We can help you choose and install the best geothermal system for your home, and we’ll work hard to keep everyone in your home comfortable. For friendly service from our knowledgeable experts, call us anytime at (229) 375-5040.

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