Ground Loops in Western Montana, Montana, Geothermal Applications

You’ve just gotten or are thinking about purchasing a a new heating and cooling system. Maybe you’re partial to the idea of a new Geothermal HVAC. If so, you very likely want to know a bit more about how geothermal works.

Geothermal HVACs variously cool and heat your home by extracting ground temperature. This works because of an underground system called a geothermal ground loop.

Ground loops are,in essence, just an underground pipe system. There are a few basic types of geothermal loop systems that can be used for heating and cooling commercial or residential buildings.

The way it works is, antifreeze fluid travels through these plastic pipes to get heat effectively and efficiently to a heat pump in your home.

Typically used are four different types of ground loops: Open Loop, Pond Loop, Horizontal Loop and Vertical Loop. These are divvied up into two categories categories: either they’re open loop systems or closed loop systems. The best system for you is dependent on the specific structure and the property on which it sits. Home systems primarily use vertical or horizontal loops.

Below are further explanations of each sort of ground loop.

Closed systems, which include vertical, horizontal, and pond loops, continuously push water through them.

Vertical ground loops are used most often in residences because, unlike horizontal loops, they don’t need much of space. They’re set in place by drilling small holes in the ground to a depth of 100-400 feet. Then pipes are driven into the holes and connected under ground to form the vertical loop. Next, more pipes are attached that channel fluid to the indoor system to transfer the desired temperature from the ground.

In comparison with a vertical loop system, a horizontal system requires a lot more space but is generally less expensive considering it uses only 2 straight pipes set 6 inches in the ground over an area of ¼ to ¾ acre.

In order to install a pond loop system, you plainly must be close to a pond, lake, pond, or well. Coils are installed vertically and attached to the bottom of the water source. Water is then transferred through more pipes beneath the earth to a pump, where the heat is withdrawn and cool water is put back into the pond. However, in order for this system to work, the water can in no way be be acidic or else pipes will decay and filters will need replacing often.

The key difference between open and closed looped systems is the open loop’s need for an ample source of groundwater, like a well or pond. From there, it directly pumps water into the heat pump unit for use in heating and cooling your house or other structure.

Used water is disposed of in one of two ways: through surface drainage or water re-injection. In returning the water back to the earth, it must be said that there’s no pollution. The only difference in water that’s processed through a geothermal heat pump is a slight change in temperature.

Before installing an open loop system, it is critical to know whether a well or pond has enough water to power your geothermal heat pump, and that it won’t deplete a neighbor’s well source. Make certain you check with your local contractor on whether there’s enough water available to go ahead with installing an open loop geothermal heating system.