Propane Furnaces & Geothermal
Is propane or geothermal heat best for your project? Some key differences make
propane a better choice for most homeowners.
Deciding between a high-efficiency propane heating system and a ground source heat pump (GSHP) can be a tough choice for pros and their
customers. While geothermal heating can provide exceptionally low energy costs by utilizing thermal energy from the earth, the more comfortable heat and lower
upfront installation costs of propane heating make it the best choice for most projects. Plus, using propane heating can make your project eligible for rebates and incentives.
Get the facts about propane and geothermal heating by downloading the comparison brochure: Uncover Geothermal's Dirty Secret.
First: Is geothermal viable?
Before choosing between a propane furnace and a ground
source heat pump, construction pros must first decide if a GSHP is feasible for
the project. GSHP systems require wells,
or "loop fields," to utilize the ground as a heat source. Space constraints are
a significant issue in existing properties and urban areas. Higher heating or
cooling loads may require deeper wells, more wells, or more trenches in limited
By comparison, propane furnaces are easily installed in
basements, attics, equipment closets, and other locations.
Energy savings are great, but your customers won’t be
satisfied with their heating system if they’re uncomfortable. And that’s geothermal’s
dirty secret: It just can’t deliver the same warm, comfortable heat as a modern
A typical standalone geothermal system delivers heat in the
90–120 degrees Fahrenheit range. The
lower the temperature of heated air, the more likely occupants are to be
uncomfortable — particularly when the air temperature falls below body
temperature (98.6 degrees). Propane heating systems consistently deliver heat in the 120–140
degrees Fahrenheit range, well above the cold threshold even when the outdoor
to research by Newport Partners, LLC, geothermal does have the lowest
annual energy costs of any type of heating system studied. But a deeper study
of the research shows that geothermal isn’t the money saver it’s made out to
- The upfront costs of geothermal are significant, the highest
installation cost of any heating system studied.
- Costs include the ground source heat pump, plus digging,
installing, and burying the ground loops.
- This leads to the longest payback period of any heating
system — up to 15 years in some cases.
In contrast, the research showed that a high-efficiency
propane furnace was the most affordable to purchase and install of all the
heating systems studied. Because propane is a clean, efficient energy source,
you can count on affordable annual energy costs, as well.