Choosing Between Ground Source & Air Source Heat Pumps

Whilst wind turbines and solar panels have long been the mainstay of eco-enthusiasts looking for domestic solutions, heat pumps have made tremendous headway into the public psyche.  Heat pumps are devices designed to extract heat from the ground, air or water and transform it into a commercially viable heating solution.  The most common uses are space heating, for instance heating a room or a building, and water heating.

Ground source heat pumps operate by installing a long section of pipe under the ground, normally between 1 and 2 metres deep.  These can be installed through the digging of a trench or the sinking of boreholes, trenches require more land but boreholes are more expensive.  The pipe is filled with a mixture of water and anti-freeze, with the liquid absorbing the heat of the ground.  Even when the frost and snow sets in above ground, below it stays relatively warm at around 10o C all year round.  Mains electricity is used to boost the heat from these pipes to the temperature needed for the purpose, meaning you may only be using half the electricity that you normally would be.

Air source heat pumps operate on the same general principle, but sit above ground and use evaporator coils to extract heat from the air.  Whilst these have the advantage of being able to be installed above ground, they are normally quite unsightly and very loud.

Choosing between ground source and air source will largely depend on your budget and surroundings.  Ground source heat pumps are able to maintain a more efficient and constant heating solution, but require the ground space to be installed.  Air source heat pumps can be very compact and are favoured for flats and residential areas, though their loud operating noise can be a problem.

Businesses with large areas of land might prefer the lower running costs of ground source heat pumps, as once they have paid off their (considerable) installation prices; they become free energy.  Air source heat pumps can achieve the same coefficient but will take much longer to do so, as they are less effective during the colder months and their contributions can be drastically affected by air temperature.

Choosing between these two systems can be difficult and you should always seek advice before embarking on a commission.  WDS Green Energy are experts in both kind of heat pumps, get in touch today and we can help you through the decision making process.