Geothermal Exchange Systems Explained

A geothermal exchange system uses the earth’s natural, relatively constant thermal temperature to heat, cool and provide hot water for a home or business.

A geothermal system consists of three parts: a heat pump, a ground heat exchanger and the delivery system. The ground heat exchanger is a series of pipes buried in the ground that transfers the warmth from the earth into the home. The heat pump connects the ground portion to the inside of the building and the delivery system is the ductwork or radiator that transfers the warm air throughout the home.

In the winter, heat is absorbed from the earth and transferred into the building by way of water or a water solution. The heat pump exchanger inside the building raises the temperature of the heat for distribution throughout the home. During the summer, the process is reversed. Heat is absorbed from the building and transferred back into the earth. Some geothermal systems can also provide hot water.

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There are two types of geothermal well systems, standing column and closed vertical loop.

Closed Loop Vertical Geothermal Systems

A vertical closed loop system uses a water solution (non-toxic antifreeze) to absorb heat from the earth. A series of bore holes are drilled into the ground, which contain plastic pipes that circulates the water solution. These bore holes are drilled for the installation of these pipes, not for water. The heat pump exchanger is located inside the building and protected from the outside weather.

Standing Column

A standing column well system is common in areas where the bedrock is near the earth surface. It is used in about 80 percent of the geothermal wells in the northeast. The system uses water from an aquifer to transfer heat from the ground into the home. Deep holes are drilled into the aquifer and pipes are dropped into the holes until it meets the water.

The water is drawn up through the pipes and circulated into the building, where it meets the heat pump exchanger. The heat pump exchanger transfers the warm energy into the home or building’s heating system and the water is then returned into the ground. This type of system is very similar to a conventional drilled well that contains an underground well pump and is used for geothermal, domestic and irrigation purposes.

At Skillings & Sons, Inc., we provide drilling and installation of geothermal systems from the ground up to the home.
For more information or a consultation with one of our technicians, call us at 1-800-441-6281.