Pros and Cons of Water Source Heat vs. Ground Source HeatGround source and water source geothermal heat pumps both extract free heat energy from the earth in winter and disperse it back to the earth during summer. However, each derives that heat from a different place.

Like any heat pump, both varieties harvest free heat energy, concentrate it with a compressor, then disperse heat into household ductwork to warm the living spaces during winter. In summer, the system flip-flops and heat energy is extracted from the house to cool the premises, then dispersed back to its origin in the ground or water. Ground source and water source systems are both highly efficient and can generate up to four units of heat energy per every one unit of electricity consumed.

Here’s a brief comparison and contrast of each system:

Ground source systems pump heat-absorbent fluid through loops of tubing buried horizontally in the ground or vertically in deep bores. After absorbing latent heat present in the earth year-round, the warm fluid circulates back to the indoor heat pump where it is compressed. Concentrated heat energy is then transferred via a heat exchanger and dispersed into the home.


  • Energy source is free.
  • Where available space permits and soil conditions are right, installation is straightforward.
  • Underground tubing loops are typically guaranteed for 50 years or more.


  • Certain local soil types may not transfer heat well.
  • Underground obstructions like rock formations can hinder installation.

Water source systems extract latent heat from lakes or wells at depths where water never freezes. Submerged tubing circulating heat-absorbent fluid collects heat energy, then circulates back to the heat pump where the heat is concentrated and dispersed into the house.


  • Like ground source systems, the heat energy is free.
  • No requirement for open ground to bury tubing loops nor certain soil types favorable to heat exchange.


  • System requires a pond or lake on the property with a depth that never freezes.
  • A dedicated water well can also be utilized, but is expensive to drill.

For more about the benefits of water source vs. ground source heat pumps, contact Team Bob’s Heating Cooling Plumbing.

Our goal is to help educate our customers in Traverse City, Michigan and surrounding areas about energy and home comfort issues (specific to HVAC systems). For more information about heat sources and other HVAC topics, download our free Home Comfort Guide or call us at 231-714-6196.

Credit/Copyright Attribution: “openclipart-vectors/Pixabay”