How Geothermal Systems Operate in the Winter

Posted by Tom Vatter

In the classic novel Journey to the Center of the Earth, author Jules Verne sent his three heroes down more than a hundred miles below the Earth’s crust—on foot!—to make fantastic underground discoveries. One of these discoveries was that the temperature did not increase substantially as they went deeper, even though much of the evidence of the day (1860s) indicated a hot core of the planet.

Today we know much different, and you can see it in action in any home geothermal system. The heat of the earth increases even a mere ten feet below the frost line. The stable warmth of the earth at this level is what allows a geothermal heat pump to work so dependably as a heating system and at high energy efficiency.

The heating operation of a geothermal heat pump

A geothermal system consists of a set of refrigerant loops buried in trenches in the ground, and an indoor set of heat pump components. The loops are filled with a solution of water and antifreeze that absorbs heat from the warmth of the earth. No matter what the temperature is above ground, the temperature 10 feet beneath the frost line will remain stable at around 54°F. That allows plenty of thermal energy for the refrigerant in the loops to absorb.

The heat transference fluid from the loops passes through a heat exchanger in the heat pump indoors. This is where the heat exchanger moves the thermal energy from the loops into the standard chemical refrigerant that a heat pump uses, which is sometimes called “Freon.” This is the refrigerant that then passes through an indoor coil, where its heat is released through condensation and an air handler sends the heated air through the home’s ventilation system.

If you have more questions of geothermal heat pumps, call Kool Breeze of Northwest Florida, Inc. We install and service geothermal heating and cooling in Navarre and throughout Northwest Florida.

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