Surprisingly, there an estimated 14,000 lakes over 125 acres in size, 110,000 lakes between 10 and 125 acres in size, and 1,000,000 lakes and ponds less than 10 acres in size in the U.S. If you are lucky enough to reside beside a lake or a pond, you should consider the option of installing geothermal heat pumps that are pond and lake loops for added energy efficiency and durability. This article will explore what pond and lake loops are, so that you can get a better idea of what to expect.
Basics of Geothermal Heat Pumps
Geothermal heat pumps collect heat located underground, and convert this energy into heat for homes. According to research done by the EPA, geothermal heat pumps are an environmentally-friendly approach to harvesting heat, as it can reduce up to 44% of corresponding emissions when compared to air-source heat pumps and up to 72% of corresponding emissions when compared with electric-resistant heating equipment.
The extracted heat will be distributed through a conventional duct system as warm air or even distributed to the radiant flooring systems. Most geothermal heat pumps have an ability to reverse the direction of where the heat is extracted from, and can also double up as a cooling system.
How Pond and Lake Loops Work
So, in a sense, it may seem counterintuitive to install pond and lake loops at the bottom of ponds and lakes, especially since the top layer will become icy during the winter. Pond and lake loops are actually similar to closed-loop systems, as an antifreeze-water solution will be circulating through the system to extract heat instead. Water at its densest and heaviest state will be at 39 degrees Fahrenheit. Pond and lake loops are ideally installed at this part of the water column. Cool water will rise to the top, but the denser water at the bottom will remain at this temperature throughout the entire year.
Pond and lake loops take advantage of this fact, and will circulate the antifreeze solution to capture the heat that is needed. The heat is then brought back up to your house, much like the same process for other heat pump systems, and will be used for heating the flooring, water tanks and heat pumps. In the summer, the process can be reversed and the pond and lake loops can double up as a cooling unit.
The Installation Process
Most of the time, pond and lake loops are built on shore. The coils and pipes should be rather light in weight and will float. The contractors will float these heat pumps to where they need to be installed, and sink them during the system filling. Last but not least, the supply-return header pipes will need to be buried underground from the pond to the building.
Unlike other geothermal systems, pond and lake loops do not require extensive excavation work to be done ahead of time. As a result, pond and lake loop systems are a bit easier to install. The ease of installation may lead to cheaper installation costs as well.
Differences in These Setups in Comparison to More Conventional Systems
Unlike other geothermal heat pump systems, you can expect some differences when you install pond and lake loops. Some common differences in the setup between pond and lake loops and other conventional systems, like horizontal or vertical loops, will include:
- coils that are much shorter and more compact. Since the water can be used as a conductor to harvest heat, most pond and lake loops will be much shorter and more compact. In most cases, the spools of the pipes are simply fitted with intermittent spacers. This allows for convective water to easily flow between the various spools. As a result, pond and lake loops tend to be much more energy efficient in comparison to the other systems that are also available.
- a different type of material. While most geothermal heat pumps are constructed from HDPE, pond and lake loop systems tend to be constructed from copper tubing, and may even have a stainless steel plate heat exchanger. These metals are much more efficient in harvesting heat underwater.
Consult with professional contractors who are licensed to install geothermal heat pumps to determine whether pond and lake loops are ideal for your property. The contractors will need to determine the size and installation location of the heat pumps when they survey the land.