June 1999

ARI Adopts New Standard for Rating Direct Geoexchange Heat Pumps

Copper Applications in Plumbing

By Air-Conditioning and Refrigeration Institute (ARI)

A new Air-Conditioning and Refrigeration Institute (ARI) standard has been created that will establish performance criteria to allow comparison of direct geoexchange thermal to other methods of geothermal heating and cooling. ARI finalized approval of ARI Standard 870-99, Direct Geoexchange Heat Pumps, on January 6, 1999.

This standard will make it much easier to establish the energy-efficiency of direct source heat pumps, allowing rapid investigation and evaluation of various methods of geothermal heating and cooling. Applying this standard, a contractor or architect can readily demonstrate the effectiveness of the geoexchange system and compare it to other heating and cooling systems. The standard provides for testing and rating of heat pumps, incorporating refrigerant-to-earth heat exchangers.

Direct source geothermal heat pumps employ the superior thermal conductivity properties of copper to provide ten to twenty percent higher efficiency than water source geothermal heat pumps using plastic pipe. This makes direct exchange the most efficient heating and cooling technology available today. But, without a standard rating system, it was difficult to quantify the savings a consumer would realize by using this equipment. Lack of an ARI Standard has slowed adoption and acceptance of the technology.

"We regard this event as a major milestone in the development of direct exchange geothermal technology," said Ron Castle, president of American Geothermal DX, a Murfreesboro, Tennessee, firm developing geoexchange systems. "For the first time we will be able to demonstrate, in a completely impartial way, the efficiency of this technology."

Through the efforts of Jack Womack, chairman of the Direct Geoexchange Systems Section, the standard was approved in record time.

"I feel confident that the new standards of data gathering will provide impressive results, and will be an asset in consumer confidence and acceptance of geothermal technology," Womack said.

The Direct Geoexchange Systems Section, at its 1999 Spring Meeting, unanimously approved to initiate the development of a certification program within ARI.

"We are confident that the results of this standard will prove to be very impressive. ARI certification will also prove to be an asset in consumer confidence and acceptance of the most efficient geothermal technology presently available," said Castle.

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