Geothermal air conditioning and heating equipment offers an environmentally-friendly alternative to traditional central heat pump systems. The effectiveness of the refrigeration cycle is largely dependent on the efficiency of the thermal energy exchange at the condensing unit. As temperatures in Richmond, Virginia rise in the summer and fall in the winter, a conventional system must work harder and longer to satisfy the indoor load.
Unlike an air to air appliance, a geothermal heat pump uses the earth itself as an energy transfer medium. The ground tends to absorb heat and store it, which is why the underground temperature remains relatively consistent throughout the year. In the winter, the earth is warmer below the frost line than the surrounding ambient air. Conversely, it is cooler in the summer.
There are three primary components in a geothermal air conditioning and heating system. A conduit serves as a pathway between the equipment and the earth, distribution pipes send conditioned air into each room in the building, and the outdoor unit drives heat energy transfer and the cycling of refrigeration.
In several respects, a geothermal heating and cooling system resembles a conventional heat pump in terms of operation. The outdoor unit includes a compressor, blower and controls, but it is also equipped with a unique loop style heat exchanger. In central geothermal heating and cooling systems, ductwork is also required.
The geothermal heat pump unit is connected to the earth through a series of durable polyethylene pipes. The most common configurations are either open loop or closed loop design. The closed loop system has become the most popular since it uses a proprietary antifreeze solution that is continuously circulated through the piping network. As a completely self-contained system, the chances of leakage or system failure are very low.
Ground source heat pumps offer many advantages when compared to conventional HVAC equipment. Since the underground temperature hardly fluctuates throughout the year, the transfer of heat is far more efficient. Operational costs can be up to 40 percent lower than a comparably sized 13 SEER air source heat pump. Additionally, geothermal systems do not work as hard as conventional systems and are less prone to malfunction and may enjoy an extended lifecycle. While installation costs can be higher, many local utilities offer incentives for the design and installation of geothermal heating and air conditioning equipment.
From an environmental perspective, the EPA has reported that a properly functioning ground source heat pump has the lowest level of CO2 emissions of any central heating and air conditioning appliance currently available.
Installation and Service
The technicians at Gilman Heating, Cooling & Plumbing are trained and certified in every aspect of geothermal heat pump installation, repair, and maintenance. For customers in Richmond and the surrounding area, our professional designers will engineer a ground source system that provides exceptional indoor comfort and unparalleled HVAC efficiency.