Are all geothermal heat pumps alike?Ross and WitmerNo. There are different kinds of geothermal heat pumps designed for specific applications. Many geothermal heat pumps, for example, are intended for use only with higher temperature ground water encountered in open-loop systems. Others will operate at entering water temperatures as low as 25°F, which are possible in closed-loop systems. Most geothermal heat pumps provide summer air conditioning, but a few brands are designed only for winter heating. Geothermal heat pumps also can differ in the way they are designed. Self-contained units combine the blower, compressor, heat exchanger and coil in a single cabinet. Split systems (such as the WaterFurnace Envision Series Split) allow the coil to be added to a forced-air furnace and utilize the existing blower.
Frequently Asked Questions
Can a geothermal heat pump be added to my fossil fuel furnace?Ross and WitmerSplit systems can easily be added to existing furnaces for those wishing to have a dual-fuel heating system. Dual-fuel systems use the heat pump as the main heating source and a fossil fuel furnace as a supplement in extremely cold weather if additional heat is needed.
Can a geothermal system also heat water?Ross and WitmerYes. Some geothermal heat pumps can provide all of your hot water needs at the same high efficiencies as the heating/cooling cycles. An option called a desuperheater can be added to most heat pumps. It will provide significant savings by heating water before it enters your hot water tank.
Can I install an earth loop myself?Ross and WitmerIt’s not recommended. Good earth-to-coil contact is very important for successful loop operation. Non-professional installations may result in inefficient system performance.
Do geothermal systems require much maintenance?Ross and WitmerNo. Geothermal systems are practically maintenance free. The buried loop will last for generations. The unit’s fan, compressor and pump is housed indoors, protected from the weather and contamination. Usually, periodic checks and filter changes are the only required maintenance. While Ross and Witmer does offer an outdoor geothermal unit for jobs where space is limited, its rugged housing is sealed so that no components are exposed to the elements.
Do I need separate earth loops for heating and cooling?Ross and WitmerNo. The same loop works for both. To switch heating to cooling or vice versa, the flow of heat is simply reversed.
Do I need to increase the size of my electric service?Ross and WitmerGeothermal heat pumps don’t use large amounts of resistance heat so your exsisting service may be adequate. Generally, a 200-amp service will have enough capacity and smaller amp services may be large enough in some cases. Your electric utility or contractor can determine your service needs.
Does a geothermal system heat and cool?Ross and WitmerOne thing that makes a geothermal heat pump so versatile is its ability to be a heating and cooling system in one. With a simple flick of a switch on your indoor thermostat, you can change from one mode to another. In the cooling mode, a geothermal heat pump takes heat from indoors and transfers it to the cooler earth through either groundwater or an underground earth loop system. In the heating mode, the process is reversed.
Does an open loop system cause environmental damage?Ross and WitmerNo. They are pollution free. The heat pump merely removes or adds heat to the water. No pollutants are added. The only change in the water returned to the environment is a slight increase or decrease in temperature.
Does the underground pipe system really work?Ross and WitmerThe buried pipe, or earth loop, was an important technical advancement in heat pump technology. The idea of burying pipe in the ground to gather heat energy originated in the 1940’s. New heat pump designs and more durable pipe materials have been combined to make geothermal heat pumps the most efficient heating and cooling systems available.