Ground Loops in Boise, Idaho, Geothermal Applications

You’ve finally gotten, or are thinking about getting, a a new heating and cooling system. Maybe you’re weighing the advantages of a new Geothermal HVAC. If so, you probably want to know a bit more about how geothermal 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 pretty much just a system of pipes buried in the ground. A few basic kinds of geothermal loop systems are used for heating and cooling most residential and commercial buildings.

Antifreeze fluid goes through these plastic pipes to get heat fast and efficiently up to a heat pump in your home.

Typically used are four different types of ground loops: Open Loop, Pond Loop, Horizontal Loop and Vertical Loop. All four fall into one of two categories: either they’re open loop systems or closed loop systems. The appropriate system for your house is determined by the specific building and the environment surrounding it. Residential systems typically use vertical or horizontal loops.

Below are further explanations of each sort of ground loop.

Closed systems, which consist of vertical, horizontal, and pond loops, continuously circulate water through them.

Vertical ground loops are used commonly in residences because, unlike horizontal loops, they don’t require a lot of space. They’re positioned by drilling small holes in the ground to a depth of 100-400 feet. Then pipes are inserted into the holes and connected below ground to form the vertical loop. Next, more pipes are attached that convey fluid to the indoor system to transfer the desired temperature from the ground.

A horizontal system takes up significantly more space but actually costs less considering it uses only 2 straight pipes set 6 inches in the ground within an area of ¼ to ¾ acre.

If what you want is a pond loop system, it should go without saying that you 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 moved through more pipes beneath the earth to a pump, where the heat is drawn out and cool water is reintroduced to the pond. Still, in order for this system to work, the water can not be acidic or else pipes will corrode and filters will need replacing often.

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

Used water is disposed of in one of two ways: through surface drainage or water re-injection. In returning the water back to the earth, it must be said that pollution is not a by-product. The only difference in water that’s processed through a geothermal heat pump is a negligible change in temperature.

Prior to installing an open loop system, it is critical to know whether a well or pond has enough water to power your geothermal heat pump, and that it won’t use up a neighbor’s well source. See that you check with your local contractor on whether there’s enough water on hand to support installing an open loop geothermal heating system.