The Growing Importance of Ground Heat Pumps
A ground source heat pump proves to be one of the most sustainable and cost-efficient heating/cooling systems that are currently available on the market. Given its capacity for providing a different range of services, such as heat generation, hot water, proper humidity levels and air cooling, a ground heat pump has the potential of becoming the heating system of choice to many future consumers. The prices for ground source heat pumps are gradually decreasing from year to year due to successive technical improvements, which makes it more appealing to new customers.
What is a Ground Source Heat Pump?
A ground source heat pump also known as a geothermal pump, is a central heating/cooling device designed to transfer heat to or from the ground’s upper layers. Through a network of pipes that are installed underground at a depth of 10 to 150m (in the case of a borehole collector), the heat that is being absorbed by the Earth's crust is transported from the source (underground) to the designated area (household) and released as high-temperature heat.
The Ground Heat Pump Efficiency Rate
One way to asses the energy efficiency of a ground source heat pump in terms of heating capacity it can offer, is by making reference to the heat conversion factor, which represents the ratio of heat amount in kW, that is generated by the pump, to the costs associated with running the pump. Typically, this coefficient varies from 3 to 5. In more practical terms, this would entail that for every kW of electricity that is being consumed, the pump produces from 3 to 5 kW of thermal energy.
This value would differ from one pump to another, due to persistent variations in operating conditions and due to design differences. Nevertheless, the overall performance of a heat pump is not impacted upon by the above mentioned aspects, which points to the fact that the efficiency rate of a ground source heat pump increases once the difference between the heat source and heat pump’s temperatures decreases. Therefore, a geothermal pump will turn out to be a perfect solution for central heating systems that do not require high temperatures for producing heat, making it suitable for underfloor heating, fan coils, or radiators that are able to function at a lower temperature flow.
The Benefits of A Ground Source Heat Pump
One of the main advantages of geothermal heat pumps is subject to their low energy consumption levels, whereas they consume 20-50% less energy than conventional heating or cooling systems. In order to draw out three units of heat from the ground, a geothermal heat pump usually uses one unit of electric power. Which means that every kW of electricity is converted into 3 to 5 kW of heating or 2 to 3 kW of cooling energy.
According to the research studies that have been carried out thus far, it was discovered that ground source heat pumps positively contribute to the reduction in energy consumption by 44% compared to air source heat pumps and by 62% compared to traditional air conditioning. Thus, the energy efficiency rate a ground source heat pump is able to deliver, varies from 300% to 500%. Ground heat pumps can also be used for improving home humidity, which makes them very effective in humid climate regions.
The functioning of a ground heat pump as well as its’ thermal output are not dependent on the outside weather conditions, whereas the ground temperatures more or less remain constant year-round. At the same time, the temperature of the soil’s upper layers is not affected by the presence of borehole pumps within the ground, and after the installation of these there are no restrictions on the use of the terrain that is being digged. Furthemore, as the ground source heat pump lacks any outdoor units, it does not spoil the integrity of the surrounding landscape.
In addition to this, a ground heat pump delivers a fair degree of comfort, since there is no need to ventilate the boiler room, it is very quiet and allows for only small fluctuations in temperature and humidity levels making the distribution of heat more equal and constant. The geothermal pump system is completely reliable, whereas every process is controlled by the system’s central command unit, and does not require special technical skills or specific knowledge in order to manage one. It functions in a closed loop fashion, which entails a reduced consumption of electricity and therefore lower operational costs. All these taken together, makes a ground source heat pump easy to operate and keep the maintaining costs down.
Geothermal heat pumps can be assembled in various configurations, that can accommodate various building structures, whether it is a new or an old house. In addition to this, a ground heat pump takes up less space than conventional heating systems, at the same time offering greater control over the heating area, allowing for individual adjustment of the temperature in different parts of the house.
Another significant benefit that would further consolidate the choice for a geothermal heat pump, stems from the ability of individually customizing the pump in terms of energy conversion and costs recovery. That means that if there is no need for a high temperature output, the customer can opt for a cheaper version that would consume less electricity and provide lower heat capacity. A heat pump like this, can also help you save up to 50% on water heating.
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