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Digital Subscriptions > Build It > December 2017 > GUIDE TO Ground source heat pumps

GUIDE TO Ground source heat pumps

Looking for a renewable system to power your home’s central heating? Nigel Griffiths investigates the benefits of this tech and whether it could make sense for your project
Trenches are dug to accept a horizontal slinky ground loop collector as part of an installation by Hero Renewables. The solar electric panels could help to offset some of the GSHP’s running costs

Whether you need an off-grid heating solution or simply want to power your home in a more sustainable way, fitting a renewable system could be a good option. One popular technology is the ground source heat pump (GSHP). This works by taking low-grade heat from the earth and converting it into usable energy at a higher temperature for space and water heating.

In many ways, a heat pump operates on the same principle as your kitchen fridge – just in reverse. The appliance is typically hooked up to a closed-loop heat collector system, buried in the ground where temperatures reach an average of around 12°C thanks to the sun’s rays. So GSHPs effectively make use of solar energy; hence why they’re considered a renewable resource.

The collector fluid (a mixture of water and antifreeze) is pumped through a sealed loop and draws in warmth from the ground. It’s then compressed to raise the temperature, and the resulting heat is transferred into the distribution system. The fluid is then expanded to reduce the pressure and temperature before it’s returned to the below-ground pipework in order to restart the collection process.

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About Build It

The December edition of Build It magazine is packed with practical advice and inspirational projects to help you make a success of your scheme, including: • A budget-friendly self-build home (page 20) • Underfloor heating vs radiators (page 69) • Getting lighting right (page 77) • 10 steps to self-build design success (page 81) • Does your plot have real potential? (page 96) … and more!
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