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Digital Subscriptions > Build It > August 2019 > Ultimate guide to ground source heat pumps

Ultimate guide to ground source heat pumps

Find out how this renewable technology works, the key benefits and whether it could be the right fit for your project withNigel Griffiths’ in-depth advice

Ground source heat pumps (GSHPs) take lowgrade energy from the ground and convert it into usable energy at a higher temperature for space heating and water heating. The easy way to understand it is that the pump works on the same principle as a refrigerator, but operating in reverse. The ground in the United Kingdom is heated to an average temperature of approximately 12°C by the sun, so GSHPs are actually making use of solar energy. In this sense they are renewable – but it’s worth bearing in mind that they still require mains power to run the pump.

How does a GSHP work?

Most domestic installations use closed-loop systems. This means the collector fluid (water and anti-freeze) is pumped through a sealed loop, draws in warmth from the ground and returns at a higher temperature. After compression by the heat pump, the warmThis transferred to the distribution system (typically underfloor heating). The pressure is then reduced by expanding the fluid, thus dropping its temperature before it returns to the underground collector and the process starts again. Where there is sufficient land available, a horizontal collection loop is used, with pipes laid in trenches that lie approximately 1.5m below ground level. If space is tight, the alternative is to install a vertical solution, which generally reaches between 50m and 90m deep. It’s worth bearing in mind that heat pumps can also supply cooling. Demand for this could become significant if climate change accelerates dramatically.

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About Build It

Make a success of your bespoke home building project with inspiration and advice from Build It magazine. This month's advice-packed issue includes: - Design & build masterclass - How to win the planning game - Buyer's guide to bifold doors - Renewable energy: ground source heat pumps - Modular extensions: quick ways to add value to your home - Build It's real-life Self Build Education House ... and more!