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Understanding Geothermal Drilling

August 17, 2017

Vertical drilling, horizontal drilling, geothermal drilling

In order to take advantage of geothermal energy, you must first have a way to extract the energy from the ground in order to use it in your home or office. To do this requires geothermal drilling, which is the process of laying piping underground that allows you to harness geothermal energy. There are two primary options in terms of drilling – vertical or horizontal circuits.  

Cost is the biggest factor when selecting between the two options. The other factors that come into play include:

  • The size of the property;
  • Any future plans for the property;
  • The soil on the property;
  • Contractors excavation equipment.

Here is a quick overview of the two methods and what makes each unique. 

Vertical Circuits

Vertical drilling involves building a vertical loop of high-density polyethylene piping in the form of a “U”. This piping is inserted into holes in the ground that range from 15 – 150 meters deep and 10 – 15 cm wide. Once the piping has been inserted, it is grouted to certify that the pipes have good soil contact and do not contaminate the ground water.

Vertical circuits are most often used when working with a smaller piece of property. Unlike horizontal circuits, vertical loops need much less ground. However, the cost of installing vary tremendously and is based almost entirely on the soil composition. If the soil is difficult to drill, such as granite or a mix of materials, it can up to 4 times the cost of horizontal drilling. If the soil is made entirely of clay though, it is roughly the same cost as horizontal. 

Horizontal Circuits

Horizontal drilling involves building a horizontal loop of high-density polyethylene piping.  Machinery is used to dig a trench, roughly 1.5 – 3 meters deep and 1 – 3 meters wide.  Depending on the specific design, multiple pipes are laid in the trench either at the same or varying depths. 

The specific parameters of your horizontal loop will depend on many factors, including:

  • Amount of heating and cooling energy your home requires;
  • Depth of the loop;
  • Climate in your area;
  • Moisture in the soil;
  • Efficiency of the heat pump.

If you have any questions regarding geothermal drilling or need supplies for these processes, be sure to contact Plastech Plus Inc. We have been a leading distributor and manufacturer of environmental drilling products since 2002 and offer its customers custom options at affordable pricing. Check our products!

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