Because the ground loop is such a vital part of a geothermal heat pump system. The geothermal ground loop depth must be correct so that it will work at its most effective and efficient level. It depends on the conditions at your home or business but you may find you have to make a choice between a vertical ground loop or a horizontal ground loop. Both types of loop systems work equally well, but the choice between them is usually governed by how much ground space is available for the loop.
A horizontal ground loop is probably the most common of the two. It is installed over a wide area of ground. It depends on the testing and design but the geothermal ground loop depth is approximately 1.8 to 3.0 metres. Horizontal ground loops require a substantial amount of open ground space for installing the pipes. The loop pipes are buried in trenches around 100 feet long. The piping for the ground loop is often coiled and stacked to provide more area for heat transfer.
In contrast, a vertical ground loop is installed in holes drilled deep into the ground, often the geothermal ground loop depth is 100 metres or more. The loop pipes are placed into these holes, which are typically placed about 6 metres apart. Circulation of the heat-exchange medium occurs as it does in a horizontal loop, except the water or antifreeze solution may need additional pressure to keep it moving in an up-and-down direction.
Horizontal ground loops are used in situations where there is plenty of open ground space available for the digging and trenching required to install the pipes. Many rural or suburban homes have adequate ground area for this installation, as do individual commercial buildings that are built on their own plots of land. Ground loop installation can be made even easier and more convenient if the builder or designer makes specific plans for geothermal systems during the initial phases of home or commercial construction.
Vertical ground loops are appropriate for situations in which there is little ground area available for the loop installation. Whereas horizontal loops are installed wide, vertical loops are installed deep. Common instances where ground loops are appropriate include urban or suburban settings where ground space is at a premium. They are also used in applications where the topsoil is thin and there isn’t enough soil available to bury the loop at the required depth. Rocky soil or layers of bedrock under layers of topsoil can also require the use of a vertical loop system.
Typically, the vertical ground loop designs require more investment than the other common ground loop configurations. This is due to the cost of manufacturing and operating the drilling equipment. The ground loop is a key part of the geothermal air conditioning and heating system and is designed by our in house Geomaster engineers. For more information please don’t hesitate to contact us or refer to some general information at this Wikipedia page.