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    Nicholas Civitano

    This is a good question because it is phrased similar to real Are questions, there are alot or variables for each to give you a dorect answer but..

    Technically a geothermal, geo exchange or ground source heat pump is sort of a take on a hydronic system in that it uses liquid as the medium to exchange heat. The system relies on refrigerant piped deep into the earth, into water bodies or shallow buried coils to exchange hot or cold refrigerant with the more moderate earth or water. The coolant cyclea through to a heat pump unit or into a radiant system to provide both heating, cooling and hot water supply. As with any hvac system there are a lot of types and systems that can be used, combined etc.

    Hydronic systems, i.e. hydronic convectors, or radiant heating systems are typically just used for heating. Although radiant cooling exists, it is not as efficient as heating is. Most hvac systems can be combined with a heat pump somewhere in the line to exchange heat, but generally the hydronic systems will probably used a boiler to heat water or steam which is sent directly through radiant panels or to convectors or radiators.

    Essentially, as a generality Id say geothermal will be more efficient. Mostly because it combines a passive medium for heat exchange with a heat pump. Ot can also more efficiently do both heating a cooling. I have learned studying for PPD that usually when a heat pump is involved it is the more efficient system..

    In terms of cost of initial install and equipt. That is a little more convoluted. I think that depends on your location, the type of geothermal system, cost of equipt. Etc. Life cycle cost Im.sure geothermal wins

    Anyone elae please elaborate if I didnt explain correctly..

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    Seth Wiley

    I'd think about it like this:

    • Geothermal in today's context is basically all about energy efficiency and sustainability, it can have a higher upfront cost, but it's intent is to have lower maintenance and operating cost.
    • Hydronic, as in hydronic versus air, can be more efficient than air if you're considering conditioning methodologies for skin vs core applications in multiunit buildings.
    • But hydronic in and of itself isn't really about "better" per se as far as cost, efficiency and sustainability in today's world.
    • AND, there are types of hydronic systems which are not particularly great at all in terms of cost, efficiency and sustainability.

    So all things considered my answer for this questions would be Geothermal.


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    Jennifer Schuler

    Hi there, 

    This above explanations are very helpful and I am in agreement with the comments. I have one follow up question related to Geothermal I'm wondering if any of you have any insights based on your studies..

    Does Geothermal have the ability to individually control temperature of different zones? 

    I agree the way the questions are formatted can be extremely broad and often need more information to accurately answer questions. 


    Thank you!



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    Matthew Dirksen (Edited )

    Also, make sure one is actually talking about a true "geothermal" system vs. a ground source heat pump. 

    Those two systems are commonly confused and are not the same.

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    Jennifer Schuler

    Thank you! Do you know if either system (Ground Source Heat Pump vs. Geothermal) allows the ability to individually control temperate zones? Similar to a VAV or FCU system, separate zoned t-stat control. Thanks for any insights.

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    Matthew Dirksen

    GSHP's can be muli-zone through the use of electronic dampers. (I'd hope they don't use "geothermal" on the exam- it's somewhat misleading.) 

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