The heat pump for any geothermal systems resides inside the home. Unlike regular central air systems the unit is indoors, which is a big reason why geothermal systems have a 20-25 year lifespan, almost double that of conventional systems. The geothermal heat pump is about the size of a small refrigerator and is extremely quiet, in fact its so quiet that it can be difficult to tell if the unit is running or not. A geothermal heat pump uses a small amount of electricity to do both heating & cooling.
The indoor unit is attached to the outdoor ground loop. Once water, which has circulating through the loop, enters the heat pump the unit removes the heat and transfers it throughout your home in the winter. In the summer this process is reversed, the unit removes the heat from the indoor air and injects it into the ground loop water, leaving behind air conditioning. As you can see heat is transferred to and from the ground, there is no fuel being burned (and therefore no gas bill to pay).
Conventional heating systems, such as a gas furnace, work by burning a fuel at a very high temperature. When the thermostat clicks on, the furnace fires up and pumps air into the home until the thermostat warms up and shuts off. A conventional system like this causes constant indoor air temperature fluctuations - you might get too cold, furnace comes on, then too hot. This happens over and over again through the course of a day.
Geothermal Systems operate differently! The system works efficiently at a consistent methodical slow pace constantly distributing air that matches the temperature on your thermostat. Your home will remain the consistent temperature you request without fluctuations resulting in un-matched comfort.
Hot & Cool air is distributed throughout the home by duct work. If your not familiar with ducts they are the vents you might find in each room. Most existing duct work requires little to no modification to accommodate a geothermal system. If a home does not have existing duct work it will likely need to be installed. Geothermal systems can also work with radiant systems which are in the floor. In addition to providing heating & cooling to your home, a geothermal system can also supplement your hot water heating.
There are numerous brands of geothermal heat pumps in the market, here are some of our supporting manufacturers. What brands are the best? The answer is it depends who you are asking (actually they are all very similar). Regardless of their answer the brand of equipment is not the most important part of a geothermal system. Hands down the installing contractor is the key to geothermal happiness. A geothermal system needs to be planned & installed properly by a trained professional with adequate experience. WARNING: Do not select a contractor solely on price. A good contractor is important for any project, but for geothermal there are a few big reasons to go with the best.
This site is non-manufacturer specific, however we do allow supporting brands to introduce themselves. Please visit equipment tab above to learn what makes each unique.
The installation of the heat pump usually takes a day of work. The old furnace and air conditioner will be removed, the new unit will be put in place and attached to the existing duct work. Some duct work modification may be needed which will add to the time it takes.
Once the unit is in place and the loop field is finished the two are joined, filled, and thoroughly tested. Once the system is up and running there is little maintenance, homeowners simply need to change an air filter every few months.
The most efficient gas furnaces have an efficiency rating of 94%, this means for each unit of fuel 94% is converted into usable heat ($1 worth of fuel gets you 94 cents of heat). Geothermal delivers a 400% efficiency rating. 4 units of energy are delivered for every 1 unit of electrical energy. This does not bend the laws of physics; geothermal systems are transferring heat from the ground, not creating it by burning something. Luckily the heat and air conditioning the Earth provides from beneath your feet is free and never ending. In dollar terms, for every $1 you pay in electricity you get $4 of heat.
Get education on the other benefits of geothermal.