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What is a ground source heat pump?

A ground source heat pump (GSHP) is an energy efficient, renewable energy solution that is particularly suited for properties on larger plots. Up to 400% efficient, this type of heat pump extracts the free heat from the ground to generate heating and hot water, reducing your energy bills and carbon footprint.

  • Transfers around three times more energy into the property as heat than it uses to extract it from the ground
  • MCS approved for the Renewable Heat Incentive (RHI)
  • Energy-efficient solution that is ideal for off-grid properties
  • Well-suited to properties on larger plots
  • Ground loop or bore hole installation options
  • Very quiet operation
What is a ground source heat pump?

Ground source heat pumps explained

Rachel, a Nu-Heat Account Manager, talks through everything you need to know about ground source heat pumps:

In this video you’ll discover

0:04 What is a ground source heat pump?
0:10 How do ground loops work?
0:17 How much land do you need for ground loops?
0:37 When would you choose a borehole set up?
0:47 Siting the ground source heat pump and cylinder

Types of ground source heating

The most popular type of GSHP uses horizontal ground loops to collect the heat stored within the ground and transfer this to the property as heating or hot water. Ground loops need a large area of land to work effectively – typically at least three times the total floor area of your property, including ground and upper floors.

If there isn’t ample land to install ground loops for your GSHP, you might want to consider a borehole option. This is installed vertically rather than horizontally, so less land is required but installation can be more expensive.

Horizontal ground source heat pump

Ground source heat pumps with invisible horizontal ground loops are:

  • Particularly suited to off-grid properties on larger plots
  • Around three times more efficient than mains gas
  • Can qualify for double the RHI tariff payments than air source heat pumps
  • Not generally subject to planning permission (subject to groundworks and archaeological considerations)
Ground Source Heat Pump Ground Loop Diagram

Vertical ground source heat pump

Ground source heat pumps with a vertical borehole installation are:

  • Better suited to properties on smaller plots that cannot accommodate horizontal ground loops
  • Even more efficient than GSHPs with ground loops
  • Can qualify for double the RHI tariff payments than air source heat pumps
Ground Source Heat Pump Borehole Diagram

Benefits of a ground source heat pump

Energy-efficient

Transfers around three times more energy into the property as heat than it uses to extract it from the ground
GSHP - Energy Efficient

Qualifies for RHI payments

MCS approved for the Renewable Heat Incentive (RHI)
RHI payments

Ideal for off-grid properties

Energy-efficient solution that is ideal for properties without access to mains gas
GSHP - Off grid

Suitable for larger plots

Well-suited to properties on larger plots
GSHP - Larger plots

Horizontal or vertical installation options

Ground loop or bore hole installation options available
GSHP - Loops or borehole

Quiet technology

Very quiet operation
GSHP - Quiet tech

How much does it cost to run a GSHP?

GSHP installation costs vary according to whether horizontal ground loops or vertical boreholes are used to extract heat from the ground. MCS-compliant installations qualify for RHI payments to offset the cost of installation.

Cost of ground source heat pump
ENERGY SOURCE INPUT COST EFFICIENCY OUTPUT COST
GSHP 15.0p/kWh 320% efficient  4.7p/kWh
Mains Gas 4.3p/kWh 89% efficient  4.8p/kWh
Oil 4.9p/kWh 91.6% efficient  5.3p/kWh
LPG 5.8p/kWh 89% efficient  6.6p/kWh
Electric 15.0p/kWh 100% efficient  15.0p/kWh
*Please use this table as a guide as energy prices can vary.

MCS approved renewable heating solutions

The Renewable Heat Incentive (RHI) rewards the installation of eligible renewable technology with tariff payments to offset the cost.

  • 7 years of tariff payments to offset the cost of MCS-compliant GSHP installation
  • GSHPs qualify for the highest level of tariff payment, almost double that offered for air source heat pumps
Save energy and money with a heat pump
RHI Payments
Ground Source
RHI Tariff payment pence / kWh
20.89
Possible RHI payments over 7 years using Nu-Heat renewable technologies*
£15,000
*An average three-bed house using 15,000kWh of heating per year with a SPF of 3.4 on GSHP and 2.7 on ASHP. Solar thermal based on an average four-person household and modest overshading of 4m² of panels on a 30° south facing roof generating 1278kWh of heat. February 2020.

Our ground source heat pump range

Nu-Heat’s range of market-leading NIBE GSHPs are a popular renewable solution for new builds on large plots.

  • Highly efficient
  • Include modulating units (1155 and 1255) that adjust output based on the heat required, drawing less electricity
  • MCS approved for the Renewable Heat Incentive
  • Easy to use thanks to an intuitive display
  • Guaranteed for 7 years when supplied and commissioned by Nu-Heat

NIBE F1155 GSHPs

Power Single-phase
Model size 6kW 12kW
Coefficient of Performance (CoP)* 4.72 4.87
Net weight 150kg 170kg
Dimensions H1500 x W600 x D620mm

* In accordance with EN 14511 for heat source entry at 0°C/hot water flow at 35°C

NIBE F1155 Ground source heat pump

NIBE F1255 GSHPs

Power Single-phase
Model size 6kW 12kW
Coefficient of Performance (CoP)* 4.72 4.39
Net weight 200kg 230kg
Dimensions H1800 (1950 headroom needed) x W600 x D620mm

* In accordance with EN 14511 for heat source entry at 0°C/hot water flow at 35°C

NIBE F1255 GSHP

NIBE 1345 GSHPs

Power Three-phase
Model size 24kW 30kW 40kW
Coefficient of Performance (CoP)* 3.5 3.53 3.68
Net weight 325kg 335kg 352kg
Dimensions H1800 (without adjustable feet) x W600 x D620mm

* In accordance with EN 14511 for heat source entry at 0°C/hot water flow at 45°C

NIBE 1345 Ground Source Heat Pump

Why choose Nu-Heat?

Whether you opt for ground loops or a borehole installation, Nu-Heat provides a complete design and supply ground source heat pump package. This includes the ground source heat pump, the most suitable cylinder and a tailored system design as well as mechanical and electrical docking drawings for a simple installation.

One-stop shop

Complete GSHP design and supply service ensures seamless system integration
Fully designed and integrated solution

Eligible for the RHI

All Nu-Heat ground source heat pumps are MCS approved for the RHI
RHI payments

Straightforward installation

Step-by-step instructions and comprehensive mechanical and electrical drawings supplied as standard
Installation guides and manuals

Long guarantee period

Heat pumps are guaranteed for 7 years when supplied and commissioned by Nu-Heat
7 year guarantee

Ground source – Flow temperature vs C.O.P vs Competitors

GSHP Flow temp v C.O.P competitor graph

Ground source heat pump FAQs

How much space do I need to install a ground source heat pump?

This depends upon whether you choose horizontal ground loop or vertical borehole installation. Horizontal ground loops need the most space – typically at least three times your total floor area (including ground and upper floors). Vertical boreholes can be installed on a smaller plot, but there are restrictions as to how close these can be sited to buildings, so it is best to check with an expert before making a decision.

Don’t forget to account for space within your home for the GSHP, cylinder and buffer tank – most people choose to locate these in a separate plant room.

What is meant by Coefficient of Performance?

A GSHP’s Coefficient of Performance, or COP, refers to the amount of energy produced by the heat pump compared to the amount of energy used to run it. The higher the COP, the more efficient the technology.

For example, an electric fire using 1kWh of electricity to generate 1kWh of heat would have a COP of 1 – making it 100% efficient as it uses the same amount of energy as it generates. A GSHP that uses 1kWh of electricity to generate 4kWh of heat would have a COP of 4 and is 400% efficient, extracting an additional 3kWh of heat from the ground to provide heating and hot water.

Can I use a GSHP with underfloor heating?

Absolutely! Underfloor heating (UFH) is at its most efficient when operating at lower flow temperatures – GSHPs provide a low-level, constant heat, making them a perfect partner for UFH.

Are there grants available for installing a GSHP?

MCS-compliant GSHP installations qualify for 7 years of RHI (Renewable Heat Incentive) payments, which can be used to offset the cost of the installation. An average three bedroom house using 15,000kWh of heating per year could qualify for in the region of 20p per kWh, amounting to around £15,000 of RHI payments over 7 years (figures correct as at March 2019).

Ground source heat pump technical information

View more detailed information and performance data for the NIBE ground source heat pump range: