what are geothermal heat pumps

What Are Geothermal Heat Pumps Anyway?

 

You know you need a new HVAC system. Obviously, you head to Google to start searching. You come across some air conditioners and heat pumps and…geothermal heat pumps? What are geothermal heat pumps?

 

Don’t worry. Your friends here at GeoCool know exactly what geothermal heat pumps are, what they do, and how best to use them.

 

We’ll even be happy to share our knowledge with you, dear reader.

 

What Are Geothermal Heat Pumps?

 

They’re magic!

 

Okay, not really.

 

A geothermal heat pump, sometimes called a ground-source heat pump, is a tool you can use to heat and cool your home. Honestly, geothermal units share a lot of similarities with conventional air conditioning systems. They rely on the same basic principles, and use many of the same components.

 

There are, of course, significant differences.

 

Ground-Source Versus Air-Source

 

Let’s start with air conditioners. Your good old-fashioned air conditioner uses a chemical refrigerant to remove heat from inside your house. A fan pulls this air into the system, removes the heat, pipes the heat outside the house, then lets it go into the atmosphere.

 

Pretty simple.

 

Air-source heat pumps run this cycle backwards to provide heat in cold weather conditions. Instead of pulling heat from your home and exhausting it, air-source heat pumps pull heat from theĀ ambient air, then pump it into the house.

 

There is one catch though.

 

As you probably already know, the air outside can get very, very cold in winter. There’s always some heat still there. After all, even Minnesota in January is not deep space, but as the temperature drops it gets harder and harder for an air-source heat pump to capture that heat.

 

Which leads us back to the question: What are geothermal heat pumps?

 

Subterranean Heat

Geothermal heat pumps do not rely on the Earth’s atmosphere. Instead, ground-source units tap a buried loop network to draw heat from the Earth’s crust. You don’t have to dig down very deep before you encounter an environment that maintains a relatively stable temperature all year long. While the snow might be piling up on the surface, it’s nice and cozy six feet under.

 

This means that no matter what the weather conditions, a geothermal heat pump operates at peak efficiency every single day of the year.

 

Which is pretty awesome.

 

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