Geothermal Heat Pump Systems

Written by Courtney Salinas
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Geothermal heat pumps, also called ground source heat pumps, are the part of the geothermal system that compresses heat collected from the Earth. This system takes advantage of the fact that the ground is always warmer than the air in the winter and cooler than the air in the summer. Geothermal heat pump systems can efficiently and effectively heat and cool homes by moving heat from one location to another.

How Geothermal Heat Pump Systems Work

Geothermal heat pumps operate on the principle of alternating vaporization and condensation. A liquid is run through underground pipes called geothermal loops and collects heat from the ground. The pipes then carry the heated liquid to the geothermal heat pump, a device inside the building.

Heat is absorbed when liquid vaporizes. When gas is condensed, heat is released. The heat pump pressurizes and depressurizes a liquid until it heats the indoor air. This is the same principle used by air conditioners and refrigerators.

Because of this process, heat transferred from the Earth can be at a relatively low temperature. Fifty degrees or so is the mean temperature of the upper 10 feet of the Earth's crust, but the pressurizing and depressurizing cycle creates heat from such a very low temperature. Once the heat is created, an air delivery system distributes the heat around the building.

Cooling a Building With Geothermal Heat Pump Systems

To cool a building, the process is reversed. The heat is transferred from the air through the air delivery system to the liquid in the pipes. The liquid then runs through the geothermal loops and is then distributed into the soil.


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