Are Geothermal Heat Pumps for Me?
Geothermal Heat Pump technology has gained a lot of publicity over the last few years, due to its revolutionary energy management potential and its ability to be used for both heating and cooling applications throughout the year.
However, this technology relies on the fact that the Earth (below the surface) remains at a relatively constant temperature throughout the year.
In summer the ground is often cooler than the ambient and thus has the ability to absorb the extra heat that is often produced from an air conditioner system. Likewise in winter, the ground will be warmer than the ambient temperature and thus can provide the extra heat required to heat a house. Geothermal systems have also been used in swimming pool heating, house temperature control (as mentioned) and many other heating and chilling applications across domestic, commercial and industrial processes.
The suitability of a Geothermal in any given area has a few key areas for consideration.
- Step 1. Know your Heat Load Requirements.
Regardless if it is for a Greenhouse, Swimming Pool or for Air-Conditioning loops, the very first thing you need to do is the size your project.
Engage an expert and find out how big a system you require. The Geothermal needs for a 10 kW system are immensely different to a 100 kW system. So what you know about your heat or energy loads you can then look at the other steps to determine the suitability for a Geothermal system over other options.
- Step 2. Compare Ambient Temperature averages versus Ground Temperature averages throughout the year.
Locations, where you have an ambient temperature for more than 60% of the year above 20 Celsius, may suit geothermal for cooling needs, but are not so good for geothermal heating applications. In Australia areas such as Queensland and Northern Territory fall in this band. Areas that have more than 60% colder than 20 Celsius ambient temperatures would be great for geothermal heating use, but usually not so good for chilling applications. Where areas more balanced to the 50:50 throughout the year may be suitable for both applications.
- Step 3. Do a Ground Substrate Survey
Underground water and moister soils make for better heat conduction conditions for Geothermal use. Where sandy and very dry soils are poor conductors and not very suitable at all. You should always do a ground survey to gain a better understanding of your suitability. Also, a substrate survey will show how deep you may need to dig for geo-pipe installation.
- Step 4. Horizontal or Vertical geothermal System
Once you know what capacity you require, the soil type and geothermal suitability, you will then know how big a system you will require.
You now have to see if you have the room for a horizontal geo-pipe system or have to dig down for a vertical geo-pipe system. A horizontal system takes far more room but is a lot more cost-effective to do.
- Step 5 – Perform an Energy Audit
By this point, you should know the size of the system requirement(s), where and how you may intend to install the geothermal system. However, a critical thing to consider is balancing your needs and the energy needs of the geothermal system.
If you draw heat from the ground only, over time the energy in the surrounding ground may deplete causing decreased efficiencies, freeze-ups and other complications.
Balancing heating and cooling loads, knowing how quickly or how long it will take the ground to recover the energy levels is very important. For example, an underground aquafer is an ideal location as it will constantly recharge your geothermal area.
Most of Australia has more temperate ambient conditions, and thus does not have the same cold winters as Europe (where geothermal is highly popular) and thus often do not have all the benefits of a geo-system available to them. Areas such as country towns, Canberra, the Mountains where winters go below 5 Celsius and over 30 during summer often come to enjoy all the benefits of a geothermal system.
Geothermal systems are often fairly expensive to set up the ground loops, ready for the Geothermal Heat Pump installation. However, as the pricing of electricity and gas go up, we are all looking at ways to be more efficient and reduce our running costs. There are also people and companies, less concerned about installation costs, that want to reduce their impact on the environment, without losing creature comforts or project outcomes.
Hybrid Geothermal Heat Pumps
There are many advantages to using water to water heat pumps, regardless if it is from a cooling tower or ground geothermal system.
However, cooling towers are less effective in winter as they are no longer required to cool the air for a building and as such no longer provide adequate water temperatures for effective heat transfer. Gas boilers are often engaged over winter to remedy this situation negating all the running cost savings and the extra system efficiencies experienced over summer.
Geothermal systems, which take advantage of stable ground temperatures, are not effective if used as a heat sink all year round to heat let’s say a pool. They are only good where they can have a balanced heat load across the year.
This got us thinking as we have created a very clever smart Hybrid Geothermal Heat Pump. This system will use our developed Smart Transthermal technologies to handshake between a Water to water geothermal heat pump and air sourced heat pump in a single unit.
Using the Transthermal technology will allow for not only temperature monitoring to draw on either the ambient or geothermal source for maximum efficiencies, but also energy handshaking between the two to allow for standard geothermal energy boosting and storage of excess heat.
This system should provide far greater efficiency and improved environmentally green solutions for the more astute builder or pool owner.
We have taken all the smarts from our PC control board and written them into smart coding for the Innotech controllers. We then took years of engineering knowledge and our understanding of heat dynamics and refrigerants and expanded this to provide our smart Transthermal technology.
We are also developing, air handling systems, multi-function systems and custom systems which may include pool heating, hot water heating and space heating/cooling all from a single unit.
The advantage of these systems is to take a heat pump from say COPs of 5 right up to 10 or more.
Want to know more Contact us.
Contact an industry expert.
If you require a soil survey or an energy audit Toyesi can put you in touch with Geoexchange Technologies. We work alongside them to ensure all aspects of a Geothermal system are covered.
Once all parties are happy, Toyesi then can manufacture the Geothermal Heat Pump to suit the designed application.
Geoexchange Technologies Pty Ltd (Geo-Tec) provides a range of services to the ground sourced energy heating and cooling market, specialising in the heat exchanger component constructed outside of the building. We can offer advice and services to individual developers or building services engineers considering geothermal technology. Our services range from initial feasibility desk-top studies for ground heat exchanger installations to complete design-construct projects. Geo-Tec is heat pump manufacturer-independent, that is, we focus on the single most important factor affecting the heat pump performance; the earth.
With the trends in environmental legislation designed to encourage developers to incorporate new “green” technologies and innovative sources of energy into their projects, ground source heating and cooling are at the forefront of these technologies. Ground heat exchange (geo-exchange) technology is not new. While the basic technology has been around for more than fifty years, many improvements recently have been made including types of materials used, design and installation methods, and the efficiencies of compressors, pumps and associated Toyesi Geothermal Heat Pumps & equipment.
Geoexchange Technologies (Geotec Drilling)
PO Box 609, COMO 6952 Perth Western Australia
Tel: +618 93679454
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