Geothermal Heating and Cooling
Geothermal heating and cooling systems for homes have grown in popularity over the years for a number of reasons. They are a natural source of energy that is both efficient, sustainable and eco-friendly. In addition, the temperature of these sources remain constant throughout the year; this means you can use them to supply or reduce heating as needed. Also, their reliability, efficiency and low maintenance needs make them a great investment. With that said, how were geothermal heating and cooling systems discovered? Who developed them into the technology we see today? Let us take a look at some of the history behind this technology as well as their types and benefits.
The History of Geothermal Heating and Cooling
Geothermal systems have been around for thousands of years. The Qin dynasty in ancient China built hot spring spas as far back as the 3rd century BCE. A few hundred years later, the Romans popularised this energy for heating rooms and public baths. For modern geothermal systems, there are several inventors who have helped develop them into what they are today. William Thomson, the future Lord Kelvin, invented the heat pump in 1852. This would become one of the primary tools used for modern systems.
In 1912, Mexican-Swiss engineer Heinrich Zoelly used Thomson’s pump to patent an invention that would draw heat from the earth. This would become the basis for the modern geothermal system used today. During the 1940s, several inventors such as Robert Webber, J. Donald Kroeker and Carl Nielsen came up with their own unique systems that are in use today.
Types of Geothermal Systems
All geothermal heating and cooling systems use underground pipes to exchange heat as needed. The design of these exchangers determines what type of system is used:
- Closed Loop Systems are the most common type of geothermal system. It uses water and a refrigerant such as anti freeze as a medium within the heat exchange coils. This medium remains inside the system and there is no requirement to replenish this fluid on a regular basis. These exchangers can take the form of vertical pipes drilled straight down (vertical loops), horizontally orientated within a trench (horizontal loops), or overlapping with coil-like pipes (slinky loops). In some cases the pipes can be installed beneath water sources, such as ponds (pond loops). In such cases the water source needs to be deep enough so the temperature will not be affected.
- Open Loop Systems are a much simpler type of geothermal system. These draw heated water from an underground source which passes through the exchangers and heat pump. It discharges the used water back into the original water source away from the water intake. These systems are reliant on having access to a clean supply of water. Also, in many cases the system will need to treat the water before discharging it.
Benefits of Geothermal Heating and Cooling Systems
- Geothermal systems are much more energy efficient than other heating and cooling systems. They can reduce energy costs in the home up to 50%.
- There are less parts that you need to take care of. This means the system is easier to maintain and more convenient to run.
- Regular heating and cooling systems can last between 10 and 15 years. However, geothermal systems are very durable and can last anywhere between 20 and 50 years.
Thermal Integration has links to the innovative Spartan ET50/100 which was launched back in the early 1980s. Since then our company has been at the forefront of designing high quality thermal technology. Now trading as HEATWEB, we have become market leaders in the industry. We offer a range of services including free calculators, design solutions, training, monitoring and more. So, to find out more about our thermal services, we invite you to contact us online or via phone today.