Geothermal Ground Loop

What is a geothermal ground loop?

A ground loop is a series of plastic pipes buried or submerged at a depth at which temperatures stay consistent year-round. It serves as the critical link that allows geothermal heat pumps to use the earth as a heat source or heat sink for heating or cooling, respectively.

How does a geothermal ground loop work?

Simply put, geothermal systems pull heat from the ground into the house in heating mode and dump heat from the house into the ground in cooling mode.

The ground maintains a steady 50-55 degrees year-round. This difference in temperature allows the earth to act as a heat source in winter and a heat sink in summer. A geothermal heat pump (located inside the home) captures this energy by circulating thermally conductive fluid through the buried ground loop.

In winter, the fluid absorbs heat from the warmer earth and carries it into the heat pump, where it enters a heat exchanger and is used to warm your home.

In summer, the process is reversed when the home’s heat is captured and released into the cooler ground, leaving your home comfortably air-conditioned.

How long can ground loops last?

Geothermal ground loops can last 50+ years — even up to 100 years!

Once installed, the buried ground loop will be a permanent fixture on the property for as long as there’s a building standing to heat and cool.

How much pipe is required for a geothermal ground loop?

The ground loop size is based on the geothermal heat pump size, the property’s soil conditions, and the overall climate. The larger a home’s heating and cooling load, the larger the geothermal heat pump required, and therefore the larger the ground loop needed.

To learn more about ground loops, check out these frequently asked questions.