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Specializing in open, closed, horizontal & standing column Geothermal systems

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What is GeoExchange? - Page 5

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The length of the loop depends upon a number of factors, including the type of loop configuration used; a home’s heating and air conditioning load; soil conditions; local climate; and landscaping. Larger homes with larger space conditioning requirements generally need larger loops than smaller homes. Homes in climates where temperatures are extreme also generally require larger loops. A heat loss/heat gain analysis should be conducted before the loop is installed.

Types of Loops

Most loops for residential GeoExchange systems are installed either horizontally or vertically in the ground, or submersed in water in a pond or lake. In most cases, the fluid runs through the loop in a closed system, but open-loop systems may be used where local codes permit. Each type of loop configuration has its own, unique advantages and disadvantages, as explained below:

Horizontal Ground Closed Loops. This configuration is usually the most cost effective when adequate yard space is available and trenches are easy to dig. Workers use trenchers or backhoes to dig the trenches three to six feet below the ground, then lay a series of parallel plastic pipes. They backfill the trench, taking care not to allow sharp rocks or debris to damage the pipes. Fluid runs through the pipe in a closed system. A typical horizontal loop will be 400 to 600 feet long per ton of heating and cooling capacity. The pipe may be curled into a slinky shape in order to fit more of it into shorter trenches, but while this reduces the amount of land space needed it may require more pipe. Horizontal ground loops are easiest to install while a home is under construction. However, new types of digging equipment that allow horizontal boring are making it possible to retrofit GeoExchange systems into existing homes with minimal disturbance to lawns. Horizontal boring machines can even allow loops to be installed under existing buildings or driveways.

Vertical Ground Closed Loops. This type of loop configuration is ideal for homes where yard space is insufficient to permit horizontal buildings with large heating and cooling loads, when the Earth is rocky close to the surface, or for retrofit applications where minimum disruption of the landscaping is desired. Contractors bore vertical holes in the ground 150 to 450 feet deep. Each hole contains a single loop of pipe with a U-bend at the bottom. After the pipe is inserted, the hole is backfilled or grouted. Each vertical pipe is then connected to a horizontal pipe, which is also concealed underground. The horizontal pipe then carries fluid in a closed system to and from the GeoExchange system. Vertical loops are generally more expensive to install, but require less piping than horizontal loops because the Earth deeper down is cooler in summer and warmer in winter.

Pond Closed Loops. If a home is near a body of surface water, such as a pond or lake, this type of loop design may be the most economical. The fluid circulates through polyethylene piping in a closed system, just as it does in the ground loops. Typically, workers run the pipe to the water, then submerge long sections under water. The pipe may be coiled in a slinky shape to fit more of it into a given amount of space. GeoExchange experts recommend using a pond loop only if the water level never drops below six to eight feet at its lowest level to assure sufficient heat-transfer capability. Pond loops used in a closed system result in no adverse impacts on the aquatic system.

Our Projects

Harvard University, Boston

Blackstone Steam Project /Multiple-1500 Standing Column wells.

Berkshire Hills School

Great Barrington MA: Open Loop, high pressure air boosting, water containment.

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Renewable Energy

Resource that is naturally replinished, such as; wind, solar, geothermal and hydro.


Heat that comes from the Earth.

Fossil Fuels

Hydrocarbons that come from the earths upper crust.

Renewable Energy

Resource that is naturally replinished, such as; wind, solar, geothermal and hydro.


Heat that comes from the Earth.


Thermal Unit, calorie, joule, ectron volt, erg, foot lb, kilocalorie, kilo watt hour, watt hour.


1 refrigeration ton = 12,000 Btu/hr.   The amount of heat removed by an air conditioning system tht would melt 1 ton of ice in a 24 hour period.

Heat Transfer

Passage of Thermal energy from hot to cold.