A ground heat pump is an excellent way of using the earth’s temperature to both warm and cool your home. This type of system can be installed in any area with adequate soil, including basements, garages or outbuildings, as well as on sloping land, and it won’t damage the ground.
The key advantage of this technology over conventional systems is that there’s no need for ducting (a major inconvenience) so you’ll find it easy to install and operate and will save energy too.
But what exactly is a geothermal heat pump? And how does it work? Let’s look at each one and discover more about these fascinating heat pumps.
What Is a Geothermal Heater?
The simplest definition of a geothermal heater is a device designed to use the natural cold of the ground – typically found beneath buildings in colder climates – to heat water and provide warmth. They’re usually used in conjunction with other heating methods such as gas boilers or electric heaters.
This process works by taking advantage of the fact that hot rocks are located deep within the Earth’s crust. The outer layer of the Earth, known as the lithosphere, is made up of solid rock, while the region below it, known as the asthenosphere, is made up of molten lava. The hotter and softer material is closer to the surface, which means that it’s also warmer than the cooler, harder rock above it.
As the Earth heats up during the day, its internal heat rises towards the surface, resulting in a thermal gradient. When you consider that the average depth of the Earth’s core is around 1,600 miles (2,500 km), it makes sense to think of this as a giant thermos.
To put this into perspective, the Earth’s temperature varies from -273°C (-456°F) at the poles to +253°C (+479°F) at the equator. So, as the planet warms up during the day, the interior gets hotter, causing the outer layers to begin moving upwards through the lithosphere.
When they reach the top of the lithosphere, the hottest parts of the Earth are at the bottom. The rocks here are liquid, and have become superheated due to the intense heat generated from the Earth’s molten core. This heat-laden, fluid rock then flows back down again, picking up some of the heat before returning to the Earth’s core.
This natural circulation of heat means that we can use it to create a heat source. A geothermal heating system uses this concept to produce electricity and warmth, although the two aren’t always linked. In reality, however, most geothermal systems are designed to take advantage of the heat created from the natural flow of underground rock rather than generate power.
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How Do Geothermal Heaters Work?
Geothermal heat pumps work very similarly to other types of heat pumps. There are three main components to a traditional heat pump:
This is where the refrigerant absorbs heat from outside air, turning it into a low-temperature vapor.
Expansion valve – This converts the high-pressure vapor into a low-pressure liquid.
This forces the low-pressure liquid through a tube, transferring the heat to a second coil inside the unit, where it becomes vapor once again.
All three components form a closed loop, allowing them to work together without the need for complex plumbing. This means that the entire system has fewer potential points of failure.
Although the condensation and expansion valves are similar to those found in traditional units, geothermal heat pumps use a different type of compressor. Most geothermal heat pumps come equipped with a centrifugal pump instead of a screw or piston pump, meaning that it’s smaller, quieter and requires less maintenance.
In addition to being smaller, cheaper and easier to maintain, centrifugal pumps are also much more efficient. This is because they move the fluid through the tubes at high speed, creating a greater pressure difference between the inlet and outlet. As a result, the heat pump produces far more power than a traditional system.
Why Use Ground Heating Installation?
If you live in an area with a high risk of frost or snowfall during the winter months, you may not want to rely solely on an external heat source. That’s why many homeowners choose to install a ground heating installation.
Ground heating installations are ideal if you want to keep your house warm all year round, even when temperatures drop outside. However, like any other appliance, they do require regular maintenance, and this could mean a costly repair bill if you neglect to perform checks and repairs regularly.
Installing a geothermal heat pump is one of the best ways you can protect your home against harsh winters, but it doesn’t stop there. You can use a geothermal system to heat your home all year long, saving you money and reducing your carbon footprint.
With a ground heating installation, you can lower your annual heating bills considerably, particularly if you opt for the latest model models. Modern systems allow you to adjust the output based on room temperature, making sure that you get the maximum comfort level in every room.
These systems also make it easier to control your own energy usage. With a geothermal system, you can monitor the amount of heat coming in and out of your property, ensuring that your home is as comfortable as possible at all times.
Another benefit of installing a ground heating installation is that it can reduce the amount of natural gas you use. When the sun goes down, the ground begins to heat up, and the heat rising from the Earth is transferred directly into your home. By installing a geothermal system, you can harness this heat and transfer it into your home instead.
There are plenty of benefits to having a geothermal heating system installed in your home. If you live in a cold climate, this could be just the solution you’ve been looking for. But don’t forget that there are plenty of other reasons you should consider installing a geothermal heat pump in your home, too.