Variable-Speed Compressor Technology Geothermal Heat Pump

Last year, geothermal heat pump (GHP) manufacturers introduced new heat pumps with break-through efficiency based on variable-speed compressor technology. These manufacturers include Waterfurnace Renewable Energy  and ClimateMaster, a division of LSB Industries

As someone who has been enjoying the geothermal evolution I could not be more excited to finally see variable speed technology begin to try and grow some roots in the marketplace. In 1984 I had the privilege, while working at Carrier, to actually have in my house in Central New York, what I believe was the first variable speed compressor operating in a geothermal system. Using a Carrier Triple Split Heat Pump, a Hitachi Inverter, and various R&D Products developed by Roger Voorhis et al, we achieved EER’s & COP’s that were “off the charts” at that time.

However, I hope the manufacturer’s do not get all caught up in maximizing the value that is part of “the box” they are providing, simply to justify the extremely high price tag. As we work with various high end residential clients who not only expect “the best”, they demand it. Having a heat pump that comes from the factory with everything (just shy of including the kitchen sink) it makes it very difficult to incorporate into a overall system design that truly delivers the best system. It is THE SYSTEM that has to be the best, not just the heat pump, and every system has a unique set of requirements, from pool heating, snow melting, domestic water heating, incorporate solar thermal, not to mention heating and cooling.

Consequently, I would like to challenge all the heat pump manufacturer’s to provide the best system component – a variable capacity, high temperature, simple water-to-water heat pump that would exude maximum flexibility without trying to dictate from the factory system design philosophies.

California Residence Heated and Cooled by Geothermal Heat Pump

One of the largest homes in Northern California is owned by Frederick Corson’s . He is proud with the very low heating and cooling bills. 

Carson fitted his residence with a ground-source heat pump known as a geothermal heat pump. The pump and pipe installation are environmentally friendly and sustainable, while they also keep the costs of heating and cooling the house minimal. This whole system works on the principal that regardless of the temperature on the Earth’s surface, it is always 60 degrees a few feet underground. 

California Residence Heated and Cooled by Geothermal Heat Pump

A geothermal heat pump is installed by first drilling holes 200 to 300 feet deep and then inserting U-shaped tubes into them. These earth-heat exchange tubes are then connected to a primary heat exchanger.  The tubes are filled with a solution of water and alcohol, which prevent corrosion and freezing.

The owner of the 5000 square foot home in California turn on this heating system in November and and keep it on through April. In the summer, the geothermal heat pump system can also be reversed to cool the house. To do this, the pump pulls the warm air out of the house and transfers t into the ground.

Geothermal Heat Pumps NEWS

Heat Pump Market in China 2014-2018
TechNavio's analysts forecast the Heat Pump market in China to grow at a CAGR of 27.86 percent over the period 2013-2018.
A Novel Heat Pump Designed To Chill Your Beer And Wine
The company, Phononic, has figured out a way to use thermoelectrics to generate cooling and will build that device into a heat pump that will first ...
Automotive businesses urged to use Renewable Heat from Geothermal Heat pumps.
Ground sourced heat pump manufacturers including Viessmann also have the challenge of convincing buyers that the technology will last for between ...
Welch pushes tax credit for renewable energy
Currently people can get a $300 tax credit for installing things like a geothermal heat pump in their homes. It expires at the end of the year.
Hanson's Plumbing and Heating Introduce Customers to Hybrid Heat
A Hybrid Heat system contains both an electric heat pump and a gas furnace.
Geothermal systems provide energy independence 
Milwaukee Journal Sentinel
Nadig is just one of the many Americans who are replacing conventional oil, natural gas and electricity-based heating and cooling with geothermal heat pump ...
WaterFurnace's 7 Series Recognized With 2014 AHR Expo ...
... announces its 7 Series 700A11 geothermal heat pump has been honored with a prestigious 2014 AHR Expo Innovation Award in the "heating" category.
Tips for Heater Maintenance and Heat Pump Repair
If you want to keep your family warm this winter, it is important to have regular maintenance and geothermal  heat pump repair by a trained technician.
Tips for keeping your house warm without burning a hole in your yard
Investing in a duct-free heat pump system is the perfect solution. Duct-free products like the Art Cool Premier Single Zone offer high ...
Heat Pump Market in China 2014-2018
Analysts forecast the Heat Pump market in China to grow at a CAGR of 27.86 percent over the period 2013-2018. One of the key factors contributing to this ...
Gothermal Heat pump calculator ready for both non-domestic and domestic RHI
Mitsubishi Electric has launched a dedicated Ecodan selection tool to coincide with the Government's announcement that heat pumps are now included in the ...
Geothermal systems provide energy independence for more ...
Nadig started to investigate geothermal (or ground-source) heat pump systems to help them stay warm in the winter - without paying a lot of money on their oil ...

7 Series 700A11 Geothermal Heat Pump wins heating award

7 Series 700A11 Geothermal Heat Pump wins an award for Heating at AHR Expo show 

The 2014 AHR Expo  feature nearly 2,000 leading manufacturers and suppliers from around the world showcasing hundreds of innovative new products to more than 55,000 industry professionals. The 2014 AHR Expo is co-sponsored by ASHRAE and AHRI. The Heating, Refrigeration and Air-Conditioning Institute of Canada (HRAI) is an honorary sponsor. ASHRAE's Winter Conference is held concurrently with the AHR Expo each year. 

Heating: Carrier, Carrier Infinity 18VS Variable Speed Heat Pump; LG Electronics U.S.A. Inc., Art Cool Premier High Efficiency Duct Free Heat Pump; Mitsubishi Electric Cooling & Heating Solutions, H2i R2-Series Variable Refrigerant Flow Heat Pump; Trane, TruComfort Variable Speed Split System Heat Pump; Weil-McLain, SlimFit Commercial High-Efficiency Condensing Boiler.

A Revolutionary Swedish Hybrid Geothermal Heat Pump

The hybrid Swedish geothermal heat pump have a copper coil in the ground (1m below ground with a loop length of 15-30m ) combined with a quite fan-less air collector. The Swedish heat pump manufacturer Jifon AB offers this highly economical and reliable solution for heating with only one moving part, the compressor. Moreover, the installation of this hybrid air and geothermal heat pump is very simple. Either drilling or major excavation work is necessary and therefore is ideal for use even in smaller plots. The Swedish manufacturer offers this hybrid heat pump in three sizes, with 11kW, 15kW and 20kW power.

Bosch and Carrier together in new geothermal heat pump joint venture

“The Carrier team is excited by the opportunities this agreement will provide,” said Chris Nelson, president, residential and commercial systems, Carrier. This geothermal heat pump joint venture will bringing together the strengths of both companies, from Carrier’s rich legacy of innovation to Bosch’s well-equipped manufacturing plant in Fort Lauderdale.

Establishing a relationship between Carrier and Bosch will allow us to leverage our research and development resources and continue to deliver high quality manufactured geothermal heat pumps to our customers., said Richard Soper, The Bosch Thermotechnology Corp president.

Carrier and Bosch form a joint venture to develop and manufacture geothermal heat pumps for the North American residential and commercial segments. The moment is right With sales of geothermal heat pumps expected to nearly triple by 2020.

Federal tax credit for geothermal heat pumps installation

The American Taxpayer Relief Act of 2012 passed in January 2013 retroactively extends tax credits for homeowners replacing heating and cooling equipment for their primary residence with qualifying, high-efficiency geothermal heat pumps. Tax credits are available for 2013 and retroactive to January 1, 2012. To qualify for a federal tax credit , there are efficiency requirements of 15 SEER / 12.5 EER / 8.5 HSPF for geothermal heat pumps. Geothermal heat pump purchase must be for your principal residence and be “placed in service” between January 1, 2012 and December 31, 2013. “Placed in service” means when the original installation of the geothermal heat pump is completed. Geothermal heat pumps placed in service starting in 2009 are eligible for a tax credit equal to 30 percent of their installed cost, with no maximum.

Missouri Geothermal Heatingand Cooling Contractors

Hoffmann Brothers is the St. Louis, Missouri Geothermal Heatingand Cooling Contractor. Another local geothermal contractors iare Sheet Metal Contractors. They serve St. Louis, Jefferson, Franklin, St. Francis and Ste Genevieve in addition to Madison, St. Clair, Monroe and Randolph county.

Geothermal contractors

It is very important to find good local geothermal contractors to Install a geothermal heat pump system. The quality of the installation definitely plays a large part in determining the efficiency of the geothermal heating and cooling system. The quality contractor should perform a proper Heatload Calculation until a contract is signed or an upfront fee is paid. Look for experienced geothermal contractor and an driller who is familiar with the local terrain.

The Ontario Geothermal Association is a not-for-profit corporation helping to advance Ontario's geothermal  industry. They link consumers with local geothermal contractors. I made a list of few geothermal contractors in Ontario with good reviews. 

Golder Associates Ltd
geothermal contractor, geothermal heat pump systems designer, professional engineers
Phone: 905-567-6100 ext.1169

Waterloo Energy Products
residential geothermal systems installer, commercial heat pump installer, contractor

Ground Heat Systems International Inc.
Services: residential heat pump installer, commercial heat pump installer and geothermal contractor

Canadian Geothermal Heat Projects Funding

Canoe Reach, Province of British Columbia
Borealis GeoPower obtained the geothermal exploration permits from the BC Ministry of Energy on October 17, 2010. The Canoe Reach Geothermal Project is a notional +/- 10 MWe standard hydrothermal project that is currently in the midst of exploration and assessment. It’s development would represent the first commercial geothermal power production in the Province of British Columbia and the first, fully green, baseload power generation alternative to large scale hydro in the Province.
Private funding

Ft. Liard Demonstration Project
A geothermal demonstration project has been approved for funding in the amount of $10-20 million under the Natural Resources Clean Energy Fund in the small northern community of Ft. Liard, NWT.  The project, which is a  collaborative effort between the federal government, the Acho Dene Koe First Nation and Borealis GeoPower Inc., aims to deliver a minimum of +/-1  MWe of electrical power (Phase I) and also +/- 1 MWth of direct heat (Phase II) to the Ft. Liard community (~750 homes) and it’s local greenhouse complex.
Private & public funding, recipient of CEF award between $10-20 M
Saskatchewan, Rafferty Project/ DEEP Earth Energy Production
 DEEP has received its first exclusive area for geothermal power development from the Saskatchewan Ministry of Energy and Resources. With the assistance of a third party consultant, Borealis Geopower, an
initial resource estimate has been completed with a positive outcome. The assessment suggests the economic viability of small geothermal power plants ( < 5 MW), but with additional rights secured on subsequent locations, DEEP can potentially achieve > 50 MW of clean power production. While the project is privately funded, DEEP was selected in SaskPower’s 2011 Green Options Partners Program Lottery for a Power Purchase Agreement (PPA), which will help in raising capital for initial geothermal drilling, expected to commence in 2013.
Type of funding: Privately funded. Currently raising funding in private sector.

Geothermal exploration in East Africa Rift Valley States (EARS)

The Icelandic International Development Agency (ICEIDA) and the Nordic
Development Fund (NDF) have launched a new project to support geothermal  exploration in East Africa Rift Valley States (EARS) covering 13 countries: Burundi, Comoros, Djibouti, DR Congo, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Kenya, Malawi, Mozambique, Rwanda, Tanzania, Uganda and Zambia.

Geothermal project funding covers reconnaissance and geothermal exploration leading up to exploratory drilling, training, e.g. through the UNU Geothermal Training Programme, institutional capacity building and policy and legal framework for geothermal utilization.

At the end of the project it is expected that participating countries have:

1) a realistic assessment of potential geothermal sites,
2) plans for further action where applicable,
3) capacity to move forward on the basis of those plans and submit exploration drilling projects into funding pipelines

Slinky loops design. Horizontal geothermal heat pump istallations.

Slinky loops are made of geothermal pipe that is coiled into many loops and buried in horizontally dug trenches in the earth. The plastic heat exchanger pipes are typically laid flat in a circular pattern at the bottom of a trench. The Slinky Loop design is a horizontal closed loop designed for areas of less land and shorter trenching. This loop requires more pipe, but less land (and excavating cost) than a single pipe trenched horizontal loop. It will often require a larger diameter pipe, and thus more antifreeze (making it more costly), than a single-pipe, trenched horizontal loop. Other design factors should be considered with a slinky loop system, so be sure to ask your contractor about the loop design parameters.

Residedental geothermal heat pump design recommendations in the Tennessee Valley

 A set of recommendations for loop sizing, piping guidelines, piping arrangements, and antifreeze precautions is provided for Residential & Light Commercial geothermal heat pump installations

These residential closed-loop ground source heat pump (a.k.a geothermal or groundcoupled heat pumps) design guidelines were developed in conjunction with a project sponsored by the Tennessee Valley Authority in conjunction with a TVA Ground Source Heat Pumps promotion.

Previous guidelines were verified and adjusted according to data gathered during this effort and previous similar projects. A set of recommendations for loop sizing, piping guidelines, piping arrangements, and antifreeze precautions is provided. They attempt to balance the conflicting constraints of installation cost and efficiency. These guidelines have recently been extended to regions beyond the TVA service territory.

Loop Lengths

Table 1 provides recommendations for ground loops in the Tennessee Valley Authority service area and beyond. The values use results from this TVA sponsored project coupled with a previous Alabama Power project and the resulting recommendations for Alabama (Kavanaugh, 1991). The length of the trench or bore must be based on the amount of pipe in the trench, burial depth, and average ground temperature and conductivity. The table provides extremes of pipe length per length of trench from 10 ft/ft (i.e. 1000 ft. of pipe in a 100 ft. long trench) to 2 ft/ft. The table was developed for an average burial depth of 5 ft. and ¾” high-density polyethylene (HDPE) pipe. The extremes of normal ground temperature are 44 F for the northern continental US and 70 in southern USA (not including southern Florida and Texas and all of Hawaii). These lengths should provide a maximum loop temperature of 90  F entering the heat pump in
normal applications. In homes with excessive run times this temperature will be 3 to 5 F higher.
The table also includes recommendations for vertical ground loops in ft. of bore per ton for ¾” and 1-1/4” HDPE, which will operate about 5 F cooler than the horizontal loops.

Table 1. Recommended Lengths of Trench or Bore Per Ton For GCHPs
Multiply length of trench by pitch to find required length of pipe.

Installing a geothermal heat pump (horizontal loop) What you need to know.

Installing a slinky loop ground source heat pump.
Digging, pipes, hole size, deep
We run the 50 degree water through a heat pump. By compressing Freon, we draw heat from the 50 degree water, and return it to the underground pipe at say 40 degrees. For cooling, we reverse the hybrid heat pump, and return it to the underground pipe at 60 degrees.

Heat pump maintenance and repair

Why regular service is very important. Avoid Costly Heat Pump Repair: Schedule Heat Pump Maintenance

Spring and fall are the best times to schedule preventive heat pump maintenance. Тhe weather is at its mildest, and the service prepares your heat pump for the upcoming heating and cooling seasons. While I recommend at least one annual visit per year for heat pumps, we do encourage a second visit as well since the system will be used for both heating in the winter and cooling in the summer. These visits should be timed to occur just before the beginning of each season and can be scheduled well in advance as part of an annual maintenance plan. Regularly maintaining the home heat pump provides the following benefits:
  • The heat pump operates more efficiently. Maintanance services that improve heat pump efficiency include changing the filter, sealing ductwork leaks and verifying proper refrigerant charge.
  • Longer life span of the heat pump
  • More efficient. Heat pump equipment, which lowers your bills and helps the environment. Fixing refrigerant leaks, lubricating the motor and cleaning away dirt all help to lower energy consumption.
  • Improved comfot. Measures that improve your comfort include verifying correct electric control, calibrating the thermostat and ensuring that no return and supply registers are blocked.