Ground Source Heat Pump Frequently Asked Questions

Here we answer your common questions on Ground Source heat pumps from how much they cost? to how long they take to install? 


How do Ground Source Heat Pumps work?

Ground Source Heat Pumps use pipes buried in the garden to extract heat from the ground. This is usually used to heat water for radiators or underfloor heating systems. It can also be used to heat water for domestic use.

How much space is needed for a ground source heat pump?

We want you to have all the information you need whilst researching GSHPs,which is why we've created this;article covering this topic.

Do I need planning permission for a ground source heat pump?

The installation of a GSHP on a domestic property does not normally require planning permission. This is because it falls under the scope of work you can undertake without an application, known as permitted development. However, there are some exceptions to this. If the ground source heat pump will cover more than 0.5 hectares of land, then you will need to seek planning permission. In addition to this, if you live in a listed building, then you will need to contact your local council.

How long does it take to install a ground source heat pump?

It takes around 2-4 weeks depending on the size of the property and what the existing heating system is. Newbuilds are quite straightforward as each part of the install can happen as the building starts to take shape e.g., the groundworks team will often be the very first on site to dig the trenches or drill boreholes and then plumbing and electrical engineers will be on site once the rooms have been created so that the heat pump, water tank and radiators or underfloor heating can be installed.

Do ground source heat pumps make noise?

No, they are virtually silent. Unlike air source heat pumps, that use a fan to extract heat from the air, ground source heat pumps harvest heat through pipework buried in the ground.

What are the disadvantages of ground source heat pumps?

• We’ll be frank with you, the biggest disadvantage to installing a ground source heat pump is the cost. They are are not yet mass produced on the same scale as gas boilers, making them more specialist. However this won’t always be the case. • Land disturbance is the second and only other disadvantage. In some cases your lawn or patio might need to come up or if you’re laying trenches in a field you might need to leave some time for the grass to grow back. Many customers turn this into a positive and use this as an opportunity to landscape their garden in a different way.


Ground source heat pumps draw heat energy from the ground through a series of pipes called ground loops. Dependent on how much land is available and the type of ground you have, can affect whether these ground loops are laid horizontally or vertically. For vertical ground loops you'll require one or more boreholes and on average these will be 100 metres deep. If you require horizontal ground loops this means you'll need trenches which are around 1-2 metres deep. Find out more about the ground works and how much space is required in our dedicated article about this topic.


Ground source systems are fully automated. They come with low maintenance, low running costs, low noise and are out of sight, they are often referred to as 'invisible heating systems'. One key advantage of ground source systems is that they are favoured by planning officers: with nothing to hear, nothing to see, and nothing to smell there is nothing to object to.


The initial purchase cost of a ground source heat pump system is more than a conventional oil or gas fired boiler. The initial capital expense is offset by lower running costs, lower maintenance and low servicing requirement. There is also the security of knowledge that the majority of your heating and cooling energy comes from the ground and will not increase in price. Be careful to avoid judging an installation on price alone. It is very important to ensure you have a well designed system if your aim is to save money over the life of the installation.


A heat pump for a small building is about the size of a large fridge. More powerful heat pumps for commercial buildings do not increase in size or price as much as they do in power output.

What is meant by the 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.

Will my GSHP be affected by the weather?

GSHP’s extract heat from the ground using pipes, typically buried 1m below the surface, where the year-round temperature is fairly stable. This is why ground source heat pumps are generally more efficient than air source, as air temperature fluctuates far more than ground temperatures.

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