This week I was having lunch with one of my product vendors. Jeff Morrow at Solar Heat Exchange Manufacturing. He was nice enough to buy me lunch, and he also told me about some new developments using ground source heat pumps tied into solar thermal systems. Traditionally, I didn’t think this was a great idea. However, seeing what was done, I think this could be a fantastic development. It also helped that John Sigenthaler in his February 1, 2011 article for PmEngineer (Well Grounded Solar) was promoting the concept. Basically, the solar system is used to either heat a solar storage tank for domestic hot water or to heat the return loop of the GSHP (isolated from the solar system by a heat exchanger. This way, whenever the solar system is not able to heat the solar storage tank, it can heat up the ground loop. Sigenthaler pointed out that this does blend well with the solar output. In the late winter season (say around March), the ground source heat pump ground loop is at it’s lowest temperature, and could be even using backup heating (possible resistance electric!). This is the time of year when the solar system is starting to put out more of its heat then in the winter. That heat can be used to feed the return to the ground of the ground source heat pump ground loop. This way, the solar system can directly boost the output of the ground loop when it needs it most, Pretty cool.
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