Ground Loops in Utah, Utah, Geothermal Applications

You need a new heating and cooling system. Maybe you’re partial to the idea of a new Geothermal HVAC. If so, you probably want to know a little bit more about how one works.

Geothermal HVACs variously cool and heat your home by extracting ground temperature. This works because of an underground system called a geothermal ground loop.

Ground loops are basically just a series of pipes buried in the earth. There are a few basic types of ground loop systems that can be used for heating and cooling commercial or residential buildings.

The way it works is, antifreeze fluid travels through plastic pipes to move heat fast and efficiently down to a heat pump in the house.

Typically used are four different sorts of geothermal ground loops: Open Loop, Pond Loop, Horizontal Loop and Vertical Loop. These fall into one of two different categories: either they’re open loop systems or closed loop systems. The right system for you is determined by the specific building and the property on which it sits. Residential systems primarily use vertical or horizontal loops.

Below are additional details on each type of ground loop.

Closed systems, which encompass vertical, horizontal, and pond loops, continuously move water through them.

Vertical ground loops are used typically in residences because, unlike horizontal loops, they don’t have to have a lot of space. They’re set in place by drilling small holes in the ground that extend 100-400 feet deep. Then pipes are placed into the holes and connected under ground to form the vertical loop. Next, additional pipes are attached that channel fluid to the indoor system to transfer the needed temperature from the ground.

A horizontal loop system has to have significantly more space but is usually less costly because it just uses 2 straight pipes inserted 6 inches down in the ground in an area of ¼ to ¾ acre.

If you’re partial to a pond loop system, you plainly must be near a pond, lake, pond, or well. Coils are installed vertically and affixed to the bottom of the water source. Water is then conveyed through more pipes underground to a pump, where the heat is withdrawn and cool water is returned to the pond. That said, in order for this system to work, the water can not be acidic or else pipes will erode and filters will need replacing often.

The big difference between open and closed looped systems is the open loop’s need for an adequate source of groundwater, a well or a pond, for example. From there, it directly pumps water into the heat pump unit to be used in heating and cooling your home or other structure.

Used water is taken care of in one of two ways: through surface drainage or water re-injection. In returning the water back to the earth, it is crucial to note that there is no pollution generated. The only difference in water that’s processed through a geothermal heat pump is a minor change in temperature.

Before you install an open loop system, it is essential to know whether a well or pond has enough water to power your geothermal heat pump, and that it won’t drain a neighbor’s well source. Be sure to check with your local contractor on whether there’s enough water at hand to support installing an open loop geothermal heating system.