Ground Loops in Alaska, Alaska, Geothermal Applications

You’ve got to have a new heating and cooling system. Maybe you’re considering a new Geothermal HVAC. Whatever the circumstances, you undoubtedly want to know a little more about how geothermal works.

Geothermal HVACs take consistent temperature from the ground to deliver hot or cool air to your home’s interior. This is possible because of an underground system called a geothermal ground loop.

Ground loops are basically just a system of pipes buried in the ground. There are several basic sorts of ground loop systems that can be used for heating and cooling most residential and commercial buildings.

Antifreeze fluid flows through plastic pipes to move heat fast and efficiently up to a heat pump in the building.

There 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 right system for you is dependent on the building and its surroundings. Home systems mostly use vertical or horizontal loops.

Below are more specifics on each type of ground loop.

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

Vertical ground loops are the most common type used residentially because, unlike horizontal loops, they don’t require a significant amount of space. They’re positioned by drilling tight-diameter holes in the ground that extend 100-400 feet deep. Then pipes are driven into the holes and connected below ground to form the vertical loop. Next, additional pipes are attached that carry fluid to the indoor system to transfer the necessary temperature from the ground.

A horizontal loop system has to have significantly more space but is typically less costly because it uses only 2 straight pipes inserted 6 inches down in the ground in an area of ¼ to ¾ acre.

In order to make use of 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 attached 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. That said, in order for this system to work, the water can never be be acidic or else pipes will erode and filters will have to be replaced often.

The primary difference between open and closed looped systems is the open loop’s need for an ample 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 taken care of in one of two ways: through surface drainage or water re-injection. In returning the water back to the earth, it is crucial to note that there is no pollution generated. The only difference in water that’s processed through a geothermal heat pump is a modest change in temperature.

Before you install an open loop system, it is vital 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 on hand to justify installing an open loop geothermal heating system.