How Do Ground Source Heat Pumps Work? 2023 UK Guide

As climate change continues to impact the environment, it’s become increasingly important to find sustainable and energy-efficient ways to heat homes and buildings. One of the most promising solutions is ground source heat pumps (GSHPs), which are rapidly gaining popularity in the UK and are a great partner for your solar panel installation.

In this guide, we’ll take a closer look at how ground source heat pumps work and the different types of ground loop systems available. We’ll also explore the benefits of using a ground source heat pump to heat your home or building, including energy efficiency, renewable energy, low running costs, and a long lifespan.

What is a Ground Source Heat Pump?

A ground source heat pump is a renewable energy technology that uses the heat stored in the ground to provide heating and hot water for homes and buildings. The system consists of a ground loop, a heat pump unit, and a distribution system (radiators or underfloor heating). The ground loop is buried underground and is used to extract heat from the ground, which is then transferred to the heat pump unit.

How Does a Ground Source Heat Pump Work?

The ground source heat pump system works by circulating a mixture of water and antifreeze through a buried ground loop, which absorbs the heat from the ground. The heat pump unit then compresses the low-temperature heat to a higher temperature, which is used to heat the water that circulates in the distribution system.

The heat pump unit consists of a compressor, a heat exchanger, and a refrigerant. The compressor compresses the low-temperature heat to a higher temperature, while the heat exchanger transfers the heat from the refrigerant to the water that circulates in the distribution system. The refrigerant then returns to the ground loop to absorb more heat.

Types of Ground Loop Systems

Closed Loop System

Closed loop systems, also known as ground-coupled systems, are the most common type of ground loop system used in the UK. These systems circulate a mixture of water and antifreeze through a network of pipes buried underground in a closed loop. The pipes are typically made of high-density polyethylene (HDPE) and can be installed horizontally in trenches or vertically in boreholes. The heat is extracted from the ground through the pipes, which are in contact with the soil or rock. The fluid in the pipes absorbs the heat from the ground and carries it to the heat pump unit, where it’s compressed to a higher temperature.

Open Loop System

Open loop systems, also known as groundwater systems, use water from a nearby water source, such as a river or well, to circulate through the heat pump unit. The water is pumped from the source into the heat pump unit, where it’s used to extract heat from the ground. The water is then returned to the source. Open-loop systems are less common than closed-loop systems and require a nearby water source with sufficient flow and quality.

Benefits of Using a Ground Source Heat Pump

  1. Energy Efficient: Ground source heat pumps are highly efficient, with a coefficient of performance (COP) typically ranging from 3 to 4. This means that for every unit of electricity used to power the heat pump, 3 to 4 units of heat are produced.

  2. Renewable Energy: Ground source heat pumps use the heat stored in the ground, which is a renewable energy source. This means that the system is environmentally friendly and produces no carbon emissions.

  3. Low Running Costs: Ground source heat pumps have low running costs, as the heat from the ground is free and the system is highly efficient.

  4. Long Lifespan: Ground source heat pumps have a long lifespan of up to 25 years and require little maintenance.

  5. Can be Used for Cooling: Ground source heat pumps can also be used for cooling in the summer months by reversing the cycle and transferring heat from the building to the ground.

Conclusion

Ground source heat pumps are a sustainable and efficient way to heat homes and buildings in the UK. The system works by extracting heat from the ground using a buried ground loop and transferring the heat to the heat pump unit, where it is compressed to a higher temperature and used to heat the water in the distribution system. There are several benefits to using a ground source heat pump, including energy efficiency, low running costs, and a long lifespan. If you are considering installing a ground source heat pump, it is important to consult with a qualified installer to determine if the

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