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Geothermal Loop Types: Which Will Work For My Home?

Home Hacks Bethany Marsch January 24 9 minutes reading time

Geothermal is a sustainable, cost-effective, and environmentally friendly way to heat and cool your home or building. It relies on ground loops to transfer heat between the surface of the Earth and the space you want to heat or cool. Ground loops are made of polyethylene pipe, usually either High-density polyethylene (HDPE) or Cross-linked polyethylene (PEX), which are placed below the ground where the temperature is constant. Ground loops come in various configurations, each with its advantages. Below, you'll see the different types of geothermal ground loops and the applications of each one so you can make an informed decision for your project's heating and cooling needs. 

Horizontal Loop System 


- Cost-Effective Installation: Horizontal loops are typically the most cost-effective option for residential installations. They don't require drilling like other systems, making them more budget-friendly. Horizontal-bore loops do exist, but these would be done with a directional boring machine, not a typical drill rig.

-Suitable for Wider Lots: If you have ample space on your property, a horizontal loop can be an excellent choice. It spreads out the loops horizontally, making it ideal for wide lots with sufficient land area. 

- Maintenance Simplicity: Most loop systems have minimal to no maintenance. However, if any maintenance is needed, horizontal loops are relatively straightforward, as they are accessible and easy to inspect. 

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Vertical Loop System 


- Space-Efficient: Vertical loops are ideal for homes with limited horizontal space. They require less land area because they involve drilling boreholes deep into the ground rather than trenching. 

- Stable Performance: The depth of vertical loops, between 100 to 400 feet deep, provides a more consistent ground temperature for the loop, resulting in higher efficiency and less piping needed.

- Less Vulnerable to Weather: Vertical loops remain unaffected by extreme weather conditions, as they are buried deep underground.

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Pond Loop System 


- Low Installation Costs: If you have a nearby pond or lake, a pond/lake loop system is commonly the most cost-effective choice. It eliminates the need for drilling or trenching, reducing installation expenses. 

- Highly Efficient: Water bodies typically maintain a stable temperature, making pond/lake loops very efficient. They provide excellent heat exchange capabilities, enhancing system performance. 

- Yard Friendly: Utilizing a natural water source for heat exchange reduces the impact on your yard, as no drilling is necessary. 

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Open Loop System 


- High Efficiency: Open loop systems demonstrate high efficiency because they draw water directly from a well or other water source. This water is then returned to the environment, so there's no depletion of resources. 

- Low Maintenance: Open loop systems tend to have lower maintenance requirements, as they don't involve as much heat exchange equipment. You do, however, have to have good water quality to avoid issues to your geothermal system.

- Flexible Water Sources: You can use a variety of water sources, such as a well, river, or pond, depending on what is available on your property. 

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Choosing the right geothermal loop system for your home is crucial and depends on various factors, including your property's size, available space, and budget. Consult with a qualified geothermal installer or looper to assess your property and determine the most suitable loop system for your specific needs. We can recommend an experienced installer who can help you get started, provide you with incentive and tax credit information, or answer your questions. Let us know how we can help!  

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Bethany Marsch
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