DIY Geothermal Heat Pump
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DIY Geothermal Heat Pump

Some basics of geothermal heat pump systems. The basic concept is that ground temperatures below the frost line remain fairly constant year 'round. By tapping-into the well of stored energy and exchanging this variance with your living area, you have a source of free heating or cooling. The inventive home-owner might wish to attempt a similar do-it-yourself geothermal heat pump system in their front yard to save energy, conserve resources and enjoy savings on home heating and cooling.


Reduced Home Heating/Cooling Costs with a Geothermal Heat Pump System

A geothermal or ground-source heat pump is either an open or closed system for heating or cooling of your home, office or other residential dwelling by means of a series of heat-exchanging pipes or tubes buried in the ground or immersed in water, with a heat-exchanging media that flows through it.

A pump forces either liquid or air through the system where it either gains or loses temperature and returns to the dwelling, as conditioned (either warmed, or cooled.)

What is a Geothermal Heat Pump?

While there is no completely agreed-upon consensus as to what constitutes a geothermal heat pump system by strict definition, any system of buried tubes or pipes that forces a liquid or gas through it for the purposes of exchanging temperature from the Earth (ground, water or geologic heat such as steam, etc.) generally is the accepted definition.

The temperature in the ground as shallow as 10 feet below the surface remains a relatively stable 50-600 F year 'round. Tapping into this free and unused geothermic energy source is a fairly easy concept.

By burying in the ground a looping system of pipes or hoses (PVC, or flexible non-degrading nylon-type hose, etc.) deeper than the deepest frost line for your latitude, you have the heat exchanging 'engine.'

By circulating water, oil, refrigerant or even air through into this tube causes heat-exchange, and the fluid or gas returns temperature-conditioned (either warmed, or cooled, depending upon relative ambient temperature of the place where received) and this delta is released into the living area for warming or cooling.

In winter, a gentle supply of 50-600 F warming from this system would supplement home heating, and vice-versa for summertime cooling where this ground-stable temperature would reduce or in some cases, perhaps even eliminate the need for other home-cooling options.

Because of the slow temperature change that occurs with geothermal heat pump systems, traditional wintertime heating is likely still required for northern zones for quickly and effectively maintaining the comfort zone for habitation. Still, the cost-savings of this supplementation versus traditional heating/cooling-only systems make supplemental geothermal heat pump systems very lucrative and desirable.

Geothermal Heat Exchangers and deep water from Lake Ontario

A more efficient liquid-based geothermal heat-exchanging system used exclusively for summertime cooling would use deep water from any nearby body of deep water such as a river, or a lake.

One such deep water geothermal heat pump cooling system such as this is used right here in downtown Toronto, Canada. Conducting pipes extend some 5-kilometers into the lake and withdraw frigid water from deep within the cold lake for cooling of multiple office buildings in the city.

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Comments (2)

A very interesting and informative read. A good overview of the geothermal principles. Liked. Tweeted. Buzzed Up.

My father installed a geothermal unit in his home in Michigan. He said it was one of the best investments he made.