Types of Geothermal Heat Pump Systems
ground loop system
There are four basic types of ground loop systems.
Three of these—horizontal, vertical, and pond/lake—are closed-loop systems. The fourth type of system is the open-loop option. All of these approaches can be used for residential and commercial building applications.

Open-Loop System

This type of installation is generally most cost effective for residential installations. This type of system uses a well or surface body water as the heat exchange fluid that circulates directly through the geothermal heat pump system. Once it has circulated through the system, the water returns to the ground via a dry well or surface discharge totally unchanged. This option is obviously practical only where there is an adequate supply of water.

Closed Loop Systems


This system requires trenches at least four feet deep.
The most common layouts either use two pipes, one buried at six feet, and the other at four feet, or two pipes placed side-by-side at five feet in the ground in a two-foot wide trench.

 A supply line pipe is run underground from the building to the water and coiled into circles at least eight feet under the surface to prevent freezing. The coils should only be placed in a water source that meets minimum volume, depth, and quality criteria.

Large commercial buildings and schools often use vertical systems because the land area required for horizontal loops would be prohibitive. Vertical loops are also used where the soil is too shallow for trenching, and they minimize the disturbance to existing landscaping. For a vertical system, holes (approximately four inches in diameter) are drilled about 20 feet apart and 100–400 feet deep. Into these holes go two pipes that are connected at the bottom with a U-bend to form a loop. The vertical loops are connected with horizontal pipe (i.e., manifold), placed in trenches, and connected to the heat pump in the building. This type of system will usually cost more due to the added price of drilling each hole.


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