A geothermal heat pump is a heat pump that uses the Earth as either a heat source, when operating in heating mode, or a heat sink, when operating in cooling mode.

Geothermal heat pumps can be characterised as having one or two loops. The heat pump itself, explained more fully in the article on heat pumps, consists of a loop containing refrigerant. The refrigerant is pumped through a vapor-compression refrigeration cycle that moves heat from a cooler area to a warmer one.

In a single loop system, the copper tubing refrigerant loop actually leaves the heat pump appliance cabinet and goes out of the house and under the ground and directly exchanges heat with the ground before returning to the appliance. Hence the name "direct exchange" or DX. Copper loop DX systems are gaining acceptance due to their increased efficiency and lower installation costs but the volume of expensive refrigerant remains high. In a double loop system, the refrigerant loop exchanges heat with a secondary loop made of plastic pipe containing water and anti-freeze (propylene glycol, denatured alcohol or methanol). After leaving the heat exchanger, the plastic pipe goes out of the house and under the ground before returning, so the water is exchanging heat with the ground. This is known as a water-source system. In principle this need not be pressurized, so inexpensive plastic tubing could be used, but in practice the heat-exchange coil in the appliance requires pressurization to flush out air and to obtain the necessary flow.

Components

Liquid Pump Jack

Geothermal systems require a length of buried tubing on the property, a liquid pump pack and a water-source heat pump. Expansion tanks and pressure relief valves can be installed. The tubing can be installed horizontally as a loop field or vertically as a series of long U-shapes (see below). The purpose of the tubing is to transfer heat to and from the ground. The size of the loop field depends on the size of the building being conditioned. Typically, one loop (400 to 600 feet) has the capacity of one ton or 12,000 British thermal units per hour (BTU/h) or 3.5 kilowatts. An average house will range from 3 to 5 tons (10 to 18 kW) of capacity. The second component is a liquid pump pack, which sends the water through the tubing and the water-source heat pump. Lastly, the water-source heat pump is the unit that replaces the existing furnace or boiler. This is where the heat from the tubing is transferred for heating the structure. Heat pumps have the ability to capture heat at one temperature reservoir and transfer it to another temperature reservoir. Another example of a heat pump is a refrigerator; heat is removed from the refrigerator's compartments and transferred to the outside.

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Testimonials

  • Theodore, Williamsport

    I appreciate the fact that Solaire Home Comfort's owners, employees, and technicians are courteous, respectful, proficient, and professional about the way they do business. I will definitely recommend Solaire Home Comfort to others and call them next time I have a heating or cooling issue.

  • Jim, Williamsport

    I have used your company for 10 years. I always considered your work good and the cost fair. My geothermal system works great, and I have recommended your firm to several interested parties.

  • Ken, Montoursville

    I have been a customer for over 20 years and don't remember of ever having a complaint about service. They have been able to take care of my needs within a reasonable period of time. I feel like I know and am friends with quite few people that are in their organization.

  • Marvel, Ralston

    Solaire Home Comfort staff is personal and friendly. When our boiler was installed, there was no problem with me assisting the installer with running the required plumbing throughout the house.

  • Donna, Columbia Crossroads

    The Solaire Home Comfort staff is always professional and courteous. The technicians appear to be competent and knowledgeable. They have always been prompt in responding to our needs. I would definitely recommend Solaire Home Comfort to others.

  • Donald and Arlene, Williamsport

    Late last summer we decided to purchase a heating/cooling system and heard about Solaire Home Comfort through a contractor, who had one of your systems installed in his own home.

  • Bill, Fanklin Township, Bradford County, PA

    When I needed emergency help, Solaire had a quick response. Always courteous and pleasant and dependable. Recommend highly! I've told others.

  • James, Jersey Shore

    Solaire Home Comfort has always resolved any problem that I've had. Your tech is very thorough. He kept me informed thorough the whole process. I'm happy with your company.

  • Richard, Troy

    I think you do a good job and have never had any problems with you. Your tech is very good.

  • Nancy, Cogan Station

    You've been a good company all these years. Very reliable. Great service. Your tech did a great job. He showed respect. I enjoyed him being here.

  • Jerry, Williamsport

    I've had very prompt and satisfactory service [from Solaire Home Comfort].