Raleigh Heating & Air Blog : Archive for the ‘Geothermal’ Category

What Is the Difference Between an Air-Source and a Ground-Source Heat Pump?

Thursday, January 29th, 2015

When people say the words “heat pump” they usually think of a single type. The truth is that there are three main types of heat pumps: air-source, ground-source and water-source. The latter two heat pumps are used with geothermal systems, which can be great options for homeowners in Wake Forest; air-source heat pumps, also a good choice, are used with both ducted and ductless systems. So what is the difference between a ground-source heat pump and an air-source one? Let’s take a look.


During the winter, air-source heat pumps absorb heat from the surrounding air, concentrates it, then disperses it to your home. Air-source heat pumps work well with ducted and ductless systems, offering both heating and cooling (for cooling, the process is the opposite of the winter).


Ground-source heat pumps work the same as air-source heat pumps, but they absorb heat from the Earth through the geothermal ground loop. Below the frost line, the Earth stays in a steady temperature range of 55-61 degrees; the ground loop of the geothermal system absorbs this heat, concentrates it and disperses it to your home.

Heat Transfer Is the Key

The key to how heat pumps work without generating either heat or cool air is transference: they transfer heat from one location to another, using refrigerant (air-source) or environmentally-friendly anti-freeze (ground-source) to facilitate the process.

So Why Use a Ground-Source Heat Pump?

If you are interested in a ground-source heat pump for your home, then you are interested in a geothermal system. Benefits of a geothermal system include:

  • Great energy efficiency – geothermal systems produce 3-4 units of energy for every 1 unit they use, making them the most energy efficient systems around
  • Long lifespan – geothermal systems have an average lifespan of 25-50 years, making them incredibly durable
  • Offers both heating and cooling – with a geothermal system, you can have both heating and cooling in one system

Geothermal systems require expert installation, so you need to hire a trained professional for any geothermal services in the Wake Forest area. For over 20 years, Raleigh Heating & Air has helped customers with multiple types of whole-home systems, so call us today!

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What Kind of Refrigerant Does a Geothermal System Use?

Thursday, January 8th, 2015

Geothermal comfort systems are a type of heat pump. Instead of using the air outside as a medium for heat exchange, as with a standard heat pump, a geothermal heat pump instead uses the temperature in the ground beneath the frost line (approximately 6–10 feet deep) for heat exchange. Refrigerant moving through the ground coils deposits heat from indoors during the summer, and absorbs it during the winter. Because the ground temperature remains relatively stable at this depth, a geothermal heat pump operates more efficiently than a standard “air-source” heat pump, especially during the winter.

If you are interested in a geothermal heat pump installation for your house, or if you wish to schedule service for a current one, call Raleigh Heating & Air. We specialize in geothermal in Cary, NC and the surrounding areas.

The Refrigerant of Geothermal Heat Pumps

The way refrigerant works in a geothermal system is different than in air-source heat pumps. The standard heat pump has only one type of refrigerant in it: a chemical blend called R-410A (which replaced the older R-22), the same kind found in air conditioners. Closed loop geothermal systems operate with two sets of refrigerant: one that runs through the ground loops, and one that runs through the indoor heat pump components.

The refrigerant that moves through the ground loops is a solution of water and anti-freeze that circulates in a closed cycle. The anti-freeze, after passing through the ground loops, enters a water-to-refrigerant heat exchanger indoors, where it transfers or absorbs heat (depending on what mode the heat pump is in) from the indoor refrigerant, which is standard R-410A chemical blend. This refrigerant then moves to the indoor coil of the heat pump, where heat is either absorbed or released.

There is another configuration of geothermal heat pump, called an “open loop” system, which uses ground water for the refrigerant in the loops. These systems are not as common as closed loops because the home must have access to a ground water source. A geothermal specialist will be able to tell you if an open loop system is practical for your property or if you should stick to a closed loop system.

Although geothermal heat pumps bring many benefits to a home and are especially helpful in areas that suffer from extreme cold during the winter, they are not ideal for all homes. Make sure you consult with professional installers before you make a choice about geothermal in Cary, NC. You can rely on quality geothermal services at Raleigh Heating & Air to help you find the right heating and cooling it fit your household and budget.

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How Long Does It Take to Install a Geothermal System?

Thursday, September 25th, 2014

The benefits of using a geothermal heat pump are immense: it provides reliable heating and cooling no matter the temperature outside, works at superior energy-efficiency compared to other types of heaters and air conditioners, and has an immense lifespan that allows a homeowner to receive the maximum savings from the investment.

But geothermal systems still intimidate some customers because of the extent of the work involved to install the ground loops. Depending on the layout necessary for the ground loops to work, they can be buried anywhere from 6 feet to 400 feet deep. This sounds like it takes an immense amount of time and effort to complete.

You may be surprised, however. There’s no question that installing a geothermal system requires work, but that’s why you bring in Cary, NC geothermal experts like those at Raleigh Heating & Air to handle it. And the job goes much faster than you probably expect.

So how long does this really take?

There is no definitive answer on the length of time necessary to set up a geothermal heat pump for a home. The time lengthens or shortens depending on conditions: how many loops are needed, the hardness of the soil, the loop configuration that will fit the available space, and the depth the loops must be placed.

The longest stage of geothermal installation is actually planning, which might take two weeks as technicians survey the home and property, size the unit, and figure out the right design. All of this is done to make the drilling and digging work take less time.

The usual amount of time needed to install a horizontal loop configuration, which requires shallow trenches, is a mere one or two days. A vertical loop configuration is more at the mercy of ground conditions, but most will take two days, possibly three.

As you can see, geothermal installation will not wreck much havoc on your daily life—provided that you hire experienced professionals who can do the job quickly. You need a team that can handle the proper planning so they can carry out the trench digging and drilling in the briefest time possible. Look to specialists in geothermal systems for the installation work necessary to make sure you enjoy the numerous benefits of a ground-source heat pump.

Raleigh Heating & Air has been in business for more than 20 years, and we specialize in providing geothermal in Cary, NC and all of Wake County and the surrounding areas. Call us today to set up an appointment to look into the possibilities of geothermal heating and cooling for your home.

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What Are the Benefits of Geothermal Systems?

Thursday, July 10th, 2014

Geothermal systems for homes continue to grow in popularity as more people search for renewable sources of energy that will both save money and benefit the environment. Installing a geothermal heat pump for a house is one of the more affordable and accessible ways to achieve both—and they provide fantastic comfort year-round that is superior to standard ground-source heat pumps.

For more than 20 years, the team at Raleigh Heating & Air has delivered heating and cooling services to Wake County and the surrounding areas. When you are ready to look into going geothermal in Wake Forest, NC for your home, set up an appointment with our geothermal specialists.

Here Are the Major Benefits of a Geothermal Heat Pump

  • Reliable heating and cooling: Standard heat pumps use the air for heat exchange, but that means they will encounter efficiency issues during temperature extremes. This is especially true during the winter, when a heat pump must strain to extract heat from the chilly outside air. Geothermal systems do not have this problem, since they use the steady temperature of the earth below the frost line, which remains around 55°F, as their source for heat exchange. You won’t have to worry about your heat pump losing its cooling or heating power at any time of the year.
  • Energy savings: The reliable temperature of the earth also means that geothermal systems use less energy than standard heat pumps. For example, on a hot summer day, an air source heat pump must use 2.2 kWh in order to generate 10,000 BTUs of cooling; but a geothermal heat pump will only use 1 kWh to generate the same amount. Savings during cold weather are even higher. The U.S. Department of Energy estimates that geothermal systems work 300-600% more efficiently in general than air-source heat pumps.
  • Longevity: Most home comfort systems operate for 15 years before needing replacement, and that’s with regular maintenance. Geothermal heat pumps can endure longer. The inside heat pump elements can last 20 years, and the ground loops, which are the most expensive part to replace, can endure more than 50 years. You will have many years to enjoy your system’s energy savings.
  • Positive for the environment: Geothermal systems create zero greenhouse gas emissions because they circulate water for refrigerant rather than a chemical blend. They also use a renewable source of energy, which eases our need for fossil fuels.

If geothermal systems have one major drawback, it’s that they don’t match every home and property. Without sufficient space to lay the ground loops, a geothermal heat pump cannot properly heat and cool a home. However, modern geothermal systems are flexible, and special loop configurations can fit into smaller areas. Contact us at Raleigh Heating & Air to learn more about the possibilities for using geothermal in Wake Forest, NC for comfort throughout the year.

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3 Ways Geothermal Systems Save Money

Thursday, May 22nd, 2014

Geothermal heat pumps are becoming increasingly popular options for home comfort. Although they require extensive installation to bury the ground loops that carry heat to and from a house, and they will not work for every home, the advantage they offer should earn them a place on the HVAC shopping list of any homeowner.

The price to have a geothermal system installed sometimes makes potential customers hesitate. It’s true that you will pay more to install a geothermal system than to put in an air-source heat pump or furnace and AC combination. However, geothermal represents an investment in long-term savings. A professional installer can help you calculate the savings you’ll receive from a geothermal heat pump, which may sway your decision.

To talk to Cary, NC geothermal specialists, call Raleigh Heating & Air today. We have over 20 years of service helping people find the right comfort solution for their homes.

How Do Geothermal Systems Save Money? Here Are 3 Ways:

  • Longevity: The easiest way for an HVAC system to save money in the long run is… for it to last for the long run. No repair costs more than needing to replace a system. But the durability of a geothermal heat pump is astonishing. The indoor heat pump part will usually last 20 years or more, while the buried loops—the most expensive components to install—can last over 50 years.
  • Heating efficiency: In heating mode, geothermal heat pumps really begin earning their keep. Because geothermal systems rely on the steady temperature of the earth (which averages around 55°F no matter the above-ground temperature), they will not lose efficiency in heating mode. The U.S. Department of energy estimates that ground-source heat pumps are 3–4 times more energy-efficient in heating mode than standard air source heat pumps, and this means tremendous savings.
  • Harness the power for other uses: A geothermal heat put can be installed so that it also heats your water supply (and your pool, if you have one), bringing in additional savings to other parts of your life.

On top of the ways you’ll save money, you will also help the environment with zero burning of fossil fuels and emissions of greenhouse gases. You help the planet when you go with geothermal.

As we mentioned above, not everyone’s home and property are suited to geothermal heat pumps. For geothermal systems and other HVAC services in Cary, NC, look no further than Raleigh Heating & Air as one of your top choices in the area. Give us a call today. We have the training and equipment to make sure you receive the best home heating and cooling.

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Do Geothermal Systems Help the Environment?

Thursday, May 1st, 2014

There are many excellent reasons to invest in a geothermal heat pump for your home. You’ll receive the standard benefit of a heat pump, which is heating and cooling power in one unit. You’ll save money with the system’s high energy-efficient performance. And the stability of the earth’s heat means you’ll never have to worry about your heat pump struggling in low temperatures as many air source heat pumps do.

Geothermal systems offer benefits that go beyond your home as well: they profit the environment. If you want to “go green” with your home, one of the best places to start is installing a geothermal heat pump.

To find out how to fit your home with a geothermal comfort system, contact our Raleigh, NC geothermal experts at Raleigh Heating & Air today.

How a Geothermal Heat Pump Helps the Environment

In a 1993 report, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency concluded that using geothermal power presents a major opportunity to reduce national energy use and lower pollution, without lowering the comfort level and reliability homeowners expect from their comfort systems. (Indeed, geothermal systems are more reliable, as mentioned above.)

How does a geothermal heat pump achieve this reduction in energy use and pollution emission? Although, like standard heat pumps, geothermal systems must use electricity to run mechanical parts, they depend far less on electrical power and instead on the renewable thermal energy of the ground that comes from the earth’s core. Much like solar energy, the heat of the earth is always present for us to harness without using it up. (Should the earth’s core stop producing heat… we’ll have larger problems than keeping our homes comfortable.)

A geothermal heat pump can rely so heavily on the renewable power of the earth because of its incredible efficiency, which returns three to four times the energy put into it as cooling/heating power. This efficient operation also lowers the impact of the greenhouse gases found in refrigerant. The more geothermal systems at work in the world, the less carbon dioxide, sulfur dioxide, and nitrous oxides will be pumped into our air.

Learn If a Geothermal Heat Pump Will Work for You

There is one major drawback with geothermal heat pumps: they will not work for every house. It depends on the property and the available space. Contact a geothermal specialist for an evaluation of your home and property to find out about the geothermal options open to you.

Raleigh Heating & Air has offered geothermal installation, maintenance, repairs, and other HVAC system services in Raleigh, NC for many years. If your home can benefit from installation of a geothermal heat pump, you can trust to our experienced team to handle all parts of the job so your system gives your home—and the environment—all the advantages of this green technology. Give us a call today and ask our HVAC specialists about geothermal systems.

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Warning Signs You Need Geothermal Repair

Thursday, April 17th, 2014

With a geothermal system providing the heating and cooling power for your home, you’ll experience a level of energy-efficiency and durability that few other home comfort systems can match. Geothermal underground pipes can endure for more than 50 years, and the steady heat of the earth means cooling and heating power that remains stable no matter the outdoor temperature.

Geothermal systems, thanks to their longevity, require few repairs. With regular annual maintenance on the system, you can experience many years without needing to make a call for technicians to fix a problem. But repair needs can still occur, no matter how well you maintain your geothermal heat pump. Here are some signs to watch for that may indicate it is time for professional geothermal repairs in Cary, NC.

Trust to the experience of Raleigh Heating & Air for the repairs and maintenance on your geothermal heating and cooling that will keep it running for decades.

Watch for these signs of geothermal repair needs

Although it’s rare for the ground loops of a geothermal system to spring a leak, it can occasionally occur—especially if the loops are nearing the 50-year milestone. (Make sure you know how old the loops are if you inherited them with your house.) These loops usually do not circulate refrigerant, but water or a water and antifreeze mixture, so leaks can appear as inexplicable wet spots on your lawn. If these spots appear in conjunction with a reduction in heating or cooling power, call for a technician to inspect the system. A dye placed into the heat pump will identify where the leak is occurring when the coloring appears on the ground above the leaking loop.

Because your geothermal system is technically a heat pump (a “ground-source heat pump,” since it uses the ground as its medium for heat exchange), keep watch for malfunctions similar to those in a standard heat pump: a loss of cooling or heating power, ice developing along the indoor coils during cooling mode, a drop in air flow, and grating loud noises coming from the cabinet. Some of these (such as heating/cooling power loss and coil icing) can occur because of damage to the loops, but the problem may originate inside the interior cabinet. The other problems are mechanical failures, problems also located inside the cabinet. Keep in mind that the indoor heat pump elements of a geothermal system will require replacement before the underground elements, so you will likely need repairs on the heat pump before you need them for the loops.

As with any heating or cooling system, maintaining a close watch on power bills can warn you of trouble: when costs spike for no discernable reason, you might have an HVAC malfunction.

Because geothermal systems are extensive and require special installation, only trained repair technicians can properly fix them. Don’t open the heat pump cabinet, and leave the shovels where they are. Instead, dial up Raleigh Heating & Air and ask for geothermal repairs in Cary, NC. We have 20 years of experience to put behind any job we perform.

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Geothermal FAQs

Friday, April 11th, 2014

Geothermal systems are an exciting and extremely efficient means of warming and cooling your home. Here in Raleigh, geothermal systems can be installed by qualified experts in our team, but you may not be familiar with how such a system works. Here’s a brief rundown of some of the more common geothermal FAQs:

How does it work?

A geothermal system has pipes beneath the ground on your property, and runs a mixture of water and antifreeze through them. This facilitates a heat exchange with the ground – either pulling heat from it or releasing heat into it – which allows you to either warm or cool your home as a result. It works because the temperature below the ground stays constant no matter what the temperature is outside.

Does it save me money?

Absolutely. Geothermal systems don’t burn a fuel to create hot air, they simply transfer heat from underground to inside your home (and vice versa). That makes the system much more effective than traditional forms of heating: up to 70% in some cases.

Does it take a lot of space?

The unit in your home is about the same size as more traditional central heaters. Geothermal systems do require a large piece of property to extend the coils, though in some cases you can sink the coils vertically rather than spreading them out horizontally.

Does it require frequent repairs?

Not at all. Because the coils are underneath the ground, the bulk of the system isn’t exposed to the elements, and while the in-house unit may experience normal wear and tear, you can address it as easily as you would repairs on a more traditional form of heating.

For more on geothermal systems or for the answers to more geothermal FAQs, contact the experts at Raleigh Heating & Air for help. We have years of experiences with providing Raleigh geothermal installation service. If you think such a system might be right for you and want some strong advice from professionals in the know, then pick up the phone and give us a call today!

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Vertical and Horizontal Loops in Geothermal Installation

Thursday, April 3rd, 2014

Here in Wake Forest, a geothermal system makes for a great alternative to more traditional forms of heating. It uses looped tubes filled with water and antifreeze to facilitate a heat exchange with the ground: beneath the earth, the temperature stays constant no matter what the weather is like outside, and a geothermal system uses that physical constant to warm and cool your home extremely inexpensively. The underground loops can be placed in two basic formats: horizontally or vertically. The net effect is the same, but you should still understand the differences between vertical and horizontal loops in geothermal installation.

Most residental installations are horizontal loops, which are buried about 4-6 feet beneath the earth. The coils are buried at least 4 feet underground and run parallel to the ground. It costs less to install than a vertical system, which is why many homeowners prefer it to the vertical models.

Indeed, vertical models are often the purveyance of schools and businesses, which don’t always have the square footage to handle a horizontal system. But they’re also available to homeowners who want a geothermal system, but whose property isn’t big enough to handle a horizontal field. In these cases, holds are drilled straight down – at least 100 feet and sometimes deeper – and the tubes extend down into it before looping back up and connecting with your home. As you might expect, this can be much more difficult to install and repair when things go wrong, but it doesn’t take much square footage to work as it should.

The complexity of geothermal systems means that you should consult with an expert before making your plans. In Wake Forest, geothermal installation can be performed by the experts at Raleigh Heating & Air. We’ll be happy to discuss your options with you, then perform your geothermal installation with courtesy and care. Pick up the phone and give us a call today.

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Geothermal Question: How Deep Do the Underground Coils Need to Be?

Thursday, March 20th, 2014

Geothermal heating makes a viable alternative to more traditional forms of heating. It uses the ambient heat in the ground itself to facilitate an exchange: running tubes full of liquid through the ground which can both transfer heat into the earth and pull it from the earth, depending upon what you need.  Here in Raleigh, geothermal heating systems can be installed quite easily, provided your property can support the size of the coils needed. They can save a great deal of money over traditional forms of heating and may increase the resale value of your house to boot. Before you pull the trigger on installing a new system, however, you need to know what’s involved.

Here is a common geothermal question we get: how deep do the underground coils need to be?

Geothermal heating works because the temperature under the ground doesn’t change no matter how cold or warm it gets outside. You have to bury the lines deep enough so that they are completely unaffected by the frost. Usually, that means anywhere from four to six feet deep, though your technician may wish to go a little deeper based on existing trends.

In some cases, the loops need to be placed vertically instead of horizontally (usually as a means of saving space). In such cases, the coils can extend several hundred feet deep, which can be more effective and make it easier work with the size of the property. Similarly, you might place the system’s coils in a pond or similar body of water, though it usually needs to be a little deeper if you’re going to place it in a pond. (At least six feet and likely deeper.)

Regardless, you need an expert to help you answer questions like “how deep do the underground coils need to be?” In Raleigh, geothermal heating systems can be installed and repaired by the experts at Raleigh Heating & Air. Were trained in geothermal heating systems and can perform an expert installation after surveying your property. Give us a call today and let us show you what we can do!

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