Geothermal heat pumps are sometimes referred to as water-source, ground-source, earth-coupled or GeoExchange heat pumps. The constant temperature of the earth is used as the exchange medium rather than the outside air temperature with this type of heat pump. One of the main benefits of a geothermal heat pump is that it is able to achieve efficiencies that are fairly high even on extremely cold winter nights. When buying a geothermal heat pump, you will need to decide which type of heat pump will best suite your needs. There are four primary types of geothermal heat pumps. They are horizontal, vertical, pond/lake and an open loop system.

Open Well or Open Water

This type of system circulates fresh water directly from a well that is located nearby through the ground source heat pump. This type of system can be less expensive than other options because a trench does not need to be dug. Buyers should be aware that the groundwater temperature can be affected with this type of system, so local government regulations may apply to this type of system. When considering this option it is best to check your local regulations first.

Closed Loop Pond System

This type of system utilizes piping that will circulate water through the pond bottom where the water temperature can remain at a temperature that is higher than the temperature of the air. This type of system can be susceptible to ice damage in certain areas.

Horizontal Closed Loop System

This type of system is buried at a deep distance, at least at a distance that is below the frost line. Water or anti-freeze is then circulated. Due to the fact that the piping in this system actually runs parallel to the surface, it is one of the easiest systems to install. For buyers who are looking for a good compromise between cost and feasibility, this is often a good option.

Vertical Closed Loop System

Of all the different geothermal systems, this is the one that has the highest efficiency. A loop of piping will circulate anti-freeze or water a distance deep within the ground. The depth of the ground is quite warm due to its proximity to the core of the earth, aiding in the efficiency of this system. This system is typically more expensive at the onset but can be worth the cost due to the efficiency.