Ground Loops in Columbia, South Carolina, Geothermal Applications

You’ve just purchased or are mulling over purchasing a a new heating and cooling system. Maybe you’re considering a new Geothermal HVAC. Whatever the situation, you probably want to know a bit more about how such a system works.

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

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

The way it works is, antifreeze fluid flows through plastic pipes to move heat quickly and efficiently down to a heat pump in the building.

There exist four different types of loops: Open Loop, Pond Loop, Horizontal Loop and Vertical Loop. All four are split into two distinct categories: either they’re open loop systems or closed loop systems. The right system for your house is determined by the building and its environment. Household systems typically use vertical or horizontal loops.

Below are further explanations of each kind of ground loop.

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

Vertical ground loops are used most often in residences because, unlike horizontal loops, they don’t take up a significant amount of space. They’re installed by drilling small holes in the ground that go 100-400 feet deep. Then pipes are placed into the holes and connected below the ground to form the vertical loop. Next, extra pipes are attached that channel fluid to the indoor system to transfer the needed temperature from the ground.

A horizontal loop system takes up significantly more space but is actually less pricey since it uses only 2 straight pipes set 6 inches in the ground over an area of ¼ to ¾ acre.

If you’re thinking of getting a pond loop system, it should be evident that you must be close to a pond, lake, pond, or well. Coils are installed vertically and affixed to the bottom of the water source. Water is then moved through more pipes beneath the earth to a pump, where the heat is drawn out and cool water is returned to the pond. However, in order for this system to work, the water must not be acidic or else pipes will erode and filters will need to be replaced often.

The essential difference between open and closed looped systems is the open loop’s need for an ample source of groundwater, such as a well or pond. From there, it directly pumps water into the heat pump unit for use in heating and cooling your house or other structure.

There are two ways to take care of used water: through surface drainage or water re-injection. In returning the water back to the earth, it’s worth noting that there’s no pollution. The only difference in water that’s processed through a geothermal heat pump is a minor change in temperature.

Prior to installing an open loop system, it is critical to know whether a well or pond holds enough water to power your geothermal heat pump, and that it won’t deplete a neighbor’s well source. Be sure to check with your local contractor on whether there’s enough water available to go ahead with installing an open loop geothermal heating system.