Basic Components of a Geothermal System, Simplified
Geothermal systems such as geothermal heat pumps, draw heat from the earth when heating a home and disperse heat into the earth when cooling a home. There are two major systems used for geothermal cooling and heating, the first being the geothermal unit itself.
The geothermal unit is installed inside the home just like any other Central HVAC or Hydronic system, and it’s attached to the ductwork if it is a forced air system or to a series of pipes if it is a radiant heat system. The unit contains condensing and evaporator coils which transfer heat between the system’s refrigerant and the home.
It also contains a pump to move fluid through the geothermal pipe system and a compressor to move refrigerant through the coils. Some geothermal heating and cooling systems also contain a device called a desuperheater that uses heat from the system to help heat the home’s hot water supply.
The second major component of geothermal heating and cooling systems is the closed-loop pipe system that carries water or antifreeze. The pipe is high-density polyethylene, or HDPE, with a life-expectancy of up to 200 years. The fluid is returned to the same stable temperature as it travels through the pipes. There are 3 major types of pipe systems: vertical, horizontal and a pond system. The type of pipe structure used to capture geothermal energy depends upon the size of the lot where the unit is installed as well as geological factors.