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Can a geothermal system be connected to a steam boiler?

HoyteKing Member Posts: 85
We have a steam boiler in a 9 unit building (1800 sq. ft x 9). We have just begun the process of considering alternatives to heat the building.

Would it be possible to connect a vertical geothermal system to a one pipe steam boiler system?

I have not found any discussion of geothermal systems connected to steam boilers. It would be nice to combine the two, as we have radiators already in place.


  • Gordan
    Gordan Member Posts: 891
    If by geothermal you mean that this well will pump lava...

    ...then yes, sure, you can use it to make steam.

    Since heat-pump based systems are usually limited to 140 F discharge temperature or less, and even that is beyond the limits of efficient operation, you'd need a way to maintain 25 inches Hg of vacuum in order to boil water with one of those. At that point, being cold will be the least of the building's occupants' problems. Not bleeding from their eyeballs, on the other hand...
  • HoyteKing
    HoyteKing Member Posts: 85
    Pre-heating water?

    So we have determined that I know little about this topic.:)

    I had read one place that a geothermal system could be the first step in heating the water, that would then be heated up to the required tempurature for the boiler.

    Some way of heating the water up is needed anyway in order to heat a building. Would pre-heating the water significantly reduce natural gas usage?
  • jumper
    jumper Member Posts: 2,246
    forget about heating

    Water returning from your steam radiators is too warm to preheat. Geothermal is still good for domestic hot water heating and for air conditioning.
  • zacmobile
    zacmobile Member Posts: 211
    edited November 2012
    geo/steam hybrid system

    There is no way to get a geo system to preheat/augment steam, the reuturn temperatures are just too high. The rep from the brand that I use is just going to Switzerland for training on a new heat pump they are going to be bringing over here that can apparently do 180F, which would be getting there for usability w/steam but even at that i'm sure your efficiency would be crap.

    If it is two pipe steam there would be the possibility of converting the whole thing to hot water, but leaks are common on steam conversion systems that were never meant to have pressurized water in them, you would have to pressure test all the piping and track down and fix leaks, blah.
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