What is the difference between solar and geothermal systems

One of the most popular questions we get from homeowners is, “How does geothermal compare to solar?” The quick answer is that it doesn’t. Geothermal and solar are highly compatible, and homeowners who want to dramatically reduce their carbon footprint (and their monthly energy bills) should install both.

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Here’s why.

First, let’s take a look at geothermal energy. No matter where you are on the planet, if you dig just six feet underground, you’ll find the soil there maintains a steady temperature of around 50°F–no matter what the weather’s like up top. You may have experienced this phenomenon before in cave systems, which generally maintain a consistent temperature year-round.

Dandelion’s geothermal system pumps water into a  closed loop into your house, and down 300 to 500 feet underground. In the winter, the solution enters your house at 50°F, where electricity is used to heat from 50°F up to your desired temperature. In the summer, this process gets reversed. The heat pump uses a little electricity to pump hot air into the cooler ground.

Every geothermal heat pump system uses a small amount of electricity, roughly equivalent to the amount of electricity you’d use if you bought a second, energy-efficient refrigerator. Geothermal heat pumps use about 75 percent less electricity than a traditional electric HVAC system, and are both cheaper and more eco-friendly than using heating oil or propane.

Here’s where solar comes in, since solar = electricity. With solar electricity + geothermal, you can eliminate your home’s entire carbon footprint. Homeowners who install a residential solar system generate most (if not all) of their home’s electricity needs from the sun, allowing them to not only keep the lights on, but also power their geothermal heat pump. If you own your solar and geothermal systems outright, you’ll have abundant electricity, heating and cooling covered for free.

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