Should I Install a Horizontal or Vertical Loop Geothermal System?

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Homeowners in Michigan are increasingly looking for energy efficient ways to cool and heat their homes – especially when the energy bill comes due during the cold winter months. If you’ve settled on installing a geothermal heating system in your home, you will likely need to address the question of whether to install a horizontal or vertical loop system. Understanding the difference between the two can help you make an intelligent decision.

Vertical Loop Geothermal System

The vertical loop system is the most commonly installed geothermal heating system. Vertical boreholes are drilled anywhere from 150′ to over 400′ deep. A typical installation will require one loop for every ton of equipment. The boreholes are spaced 15 to 20 feet apart. After the piping is installed, a special grout is usually used to fill in the boreholes. This prevents groundwater contamination and provides a better transfer of heat between the pipes and the earth.

Horizontal Loop Geothermal System

The horizontal loop system is less common due to the need for long horizontal trenches in laying the piping. The horizontal system is more common in rural areas where more space is available to install the pipes. Trenches are dug in the ground, which range from 100′ to 400′ in length. The number of pipes required will vary based on the tonnage of the equipment needed to heat the home. Pipes must be spaced out at a set distance from each other.

Choosing Between the Systems

The greater depths of the vertical loop system provide a more constant temperature, and are therefore usually more efficient to operate. The improved efficiency varies, but averages approximately 10% over the horizontal loop system. The main advantage to the horizontal loop system is that the cost of digging the trenches is generally significantly less than the cost of drilling boreholes for the vertical system. Other considerations you may want to keep in mind include the disturbance to your lawn and topsoil from installing the horizontal over the vertical system. Additionally, if the soil composition is exceptionally rocky, there may be less savings in the installation of the horizontal system due to the difficulty in digging the trenches.

We have been selling and installing geothermal systems in southwest Michigan since 1979. We are primarily a word of mouth business, and we pride ourselves in treating every homeowner with courtesy and professionalism. One of our technicians will be happy to come to your location and help you determine the best choice for installing your geothermal system.