When Should You Get A Closed-Loop System Instead Of An Open-Loop System?

Posted on: 12 October 2022

A geothermal heat pump provides heating and cooling that is more efficient overall than your typical electric or gas system. You have a choice between open-loop systems and closed-loop systems. Open-loop systems draw water from the groundwater supply, send it through the heating and cooling system once, and then send it out to a pond or other destination. Closed-loop systems are filled with water and occasionally a form of antifreeze and then closed up, with that supply being reused again and again. Both work very well but thrive in different circumstances. Open-loop systems are often preferred, but closed-loop systems are better in many cases.

Precarious Groundwater Supplies

If you don't have a reliable, clean groundwater supply nearby, you can't use an open-loop system. You have to have water running continuously through the pipes of the geothermal system, and if you do not have reliable water, or you have a groundwater source that is dirty, polluted, or otherwise unacceptable, your system won't work properly. In this case, you want a closed-loop system that is all contained on your property. And, if your area is prone to drought, you may want a closed-loop system anyway to avoid the risk of running out of water.

Cheaper Maintenance Despite Increased Construction Standards

Closed-loop systems can't leak; otherwise, you lose your source of water. So, the pipes have to be built to higher standards and be leak-proof. That can increase construction costs for the system, of course. But overall, a closed-loop system can be cheaper to maintain once built. If you prefer cheaper maintenance to cheaper installation, closed-loop is the way to go. You can discuss all the maintenance involved with each system when you first start looking for companies to install the geothermal heating and cooling system.

Smaller Properties

Open-loop systems have to reach the water source. If the groundwater source is relatively far away, you'd need longer pipes. However, you may not be able to cross under other people's properties, either because they own the mineral rights and you can't dig without permission, or because the construction would disrupt life on the surface. If you have a smaller property where you can't have the pipes go past the property line, a closed-loop system is best.

Some installers prefer one type of system over the other. But if you meet any of the previously mentioned conditions, those will likely dictate which system you get.

To learn more about geothermal heating and air, reach out to an HVAC contractor near you.