Geothermal Earth Loops for Portland, OR

In part three of our Introduction to Geothermal series, we are going to discuss geothermal loop systems and how each type works.

A geothermal loop is the series of underground pipes used to move heat to and from the earth. The pipes are formed out of high-density polyethylene to secure a reliable, long-lasting system. They are joined together using thermal fusion that will forge a bond that is far stronger than the original pipe itself. In fact, a properly installed loop can survive up to 200 years.
 
There are two leading types of geothermal loop systems that are almost always used in today's installations: open loop systems and closed loop systems. Both systems have distinct pros and cons for your heating or cooling solution. We at Total Energy Concepts have the knowledge and expertise on both types, and we will help you by determining the right choice for your geothermal installation.

Open loop geothermal solutions are designed to maximize the natural groundwater from beneath your home. Using a well, water is pulled from an existing aquifer and transferred to the geothermal heat pump where its heat is taken out and the water is pumped back into the ground or to an assigned runoff. Since the water that you are using is not being altered in any way, the only thing that is being returned to the earth is water that is a tiny bit warmer or cooler (depending whether you're in heating or cooling mode).

One consideration to watch out for with an open loop system is water quality. Mineral build-up can happen from poor quality water. This can be kept under control with an occasional cleaning. If the water in the earth has greater iron content, you may want to make sure that the discharge water is prevented from coming in contact with air before it is returned in order to prevent clogs.
 
Closed loops are just as they sound. Instead of pumping water from a well and depositing it elsewhere, water is circulated in a completely sealed circuit with a small amount of earth friendly antifreeze.
 
There are two primary types of closed loop installations: horizontal and vertical. Putting in the system horizontally needs quite a bit of land space. The piping is embedded in trenches between 4 and 6 feet deep and can be up to 400 feet long. If you reside on a smaller lot, the loops can be installed vertically by boring straight down using drilling equipment. This variety of installation can be installed in as little as a 10ft by 10ft  area.
 
In either case, the larger the building, the larger the geothermal heat pump and loop needs to be. A good estimate is that for every ton of system capacity, you will need 500 to 600 feet of pipe.
 
Contact Total Energy Concepts today to learn more about what system choices are available to you here in Portland, OR.