Geothermal Earth Loops for Knoxville

In part three of our Introduction to Geothermal series, we are going to talk about geothermal loop systems and how each type works.

A geothermal loop is the series of underground pipes used to transfer heat to and from the earth. These pipes are formed out of high-density polyethylene to create a dependable, long-lasting system. They are adhered together using thermal fusion that will produce a bond that is far stronger than the original pipe itself. In fact, a properly installed loop can remain up to 200 years.
 
There are two leading types of geothermal loop systems that are mostly used in today's installations: open loop systems and closed loop systems. Both systems have different pros and cons for your heating or cooling solution. We at Pioneer Heating and Air Conditioning, Inc. have the knowledge and experience on both types, and we will help you by selecting the best option for your geothermal installation.

Open loop geothermal solutions are designed to utilize the natural groundwater from underneath your home. Using a well, water is drawn from an existing aquifer and delivered to the geothermal heat pump where its heat is taken out and the water is pushed back into the ground or to a designated runoff. Since the water that you are handling is not being altered in any way, the only thing that is being returned to the ground is water that is a tiny bit warmer or cooler (depending whether you're in heating or cooling mode).

One consideration to keep an eye on with an open loop system is water quality. Mineral build-up can develop from poor quality water. This can be kept under control with an occasional cleaning. If the water in the earth has greater iron content, you will need to make sure that the used water is kept away from air before it is returned in order to prevent clogs.
 
Closed loops are exactly as they sound. Rather than pumping water from a well and depositing it elsewhere, water is circulated in a entirely sealed circuit with a small amount of eco-friendly antifreeze.
 
There are two main types of closed loop installations: horizontal and vertical. Putting in the system horizontally requires quite a bit of land space. The piping is buried in trenches between 4 and 6 feet deep and can be up to 400 feet long. If you live on a smaller lot, the loops can be installed vertically by boring straight down using drilling equipment. This sort of installation can be installed in as little as a 10ft by 10ft  area.
 
In either case, the bigger the building, the bigger the geothermal heat pump and loop needs to be. A good estimate is that for every ton of system capacity, you will need 500 to 600 feet of pipe.
 
Contact Pioneer Heating and Air Conditioning, Inc. today to learn more about what system choices are available to you here in Knoxville.