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Renewable & Alternative Fuels

Geothermal Heat Pump Manufacturing Activities

Release Date: December 2012  |  Next Release Date: Discontinued  |  full report

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Shipments of geothermal heat pumps decreased nearly 5 percent in 2009 to 115,442 units from a year ago (Table 4.1), while capacity shipped decreased by only 2 percent to 407,093 tons31 (Figure 4.1 and Table 4.2). This marked the first decrease in shipments experienced by the geothermal heat pump (GHP) industry since 2003.

On February 17, 2009, the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 (ARRA) was signed into law. This legislation provides significant new Federal funding, loan guarantees, and tax credits to stimulate investments in energy efficiency and renewable energy.

Figure 4.1:  A line graph with markers that shows the rated capacity of geothermal heat pump shipments decreased by 2 percent to 407,093 tons between 2008 and 2009.

Source: U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA), Form EIA-902, "Annual Geothermal Heat Pump Manufacturers Survey."
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Industry Status

In 2009, there were 27 known domestic manufacturers of geothermal heat pumps (Table 4.16), including brand name manufacturers32 that shipped geothermal heat pumps manufactured by others under contract.

Almost all manufacturers have their geothermal heat pumps tested and certified by the Air Conditioning, Heating, and Refrigeration Institute (AHRI) for their cooling capacities and operating efficiencies.  In general, geothermal heat pumps are rated based on one of the four standards by the AHRI.  The four classifications for geothermal heat pumps are as follows:

  • ARI-320, Water-Source Heat Pumps (WSHP). These systems are installed in commercial buildings, where a central chiller or boiler supplies chilled or heated water, respectively, to heat pumps installed in series. The heat pumps reject building heat to chilled water during the cooling season and, during the heating season, take heat from boiler water
  • ARI-325, Ground Water-Source Heat Pumps (GWHP). The GWHP is an open-loop system directly utilizes water from a well or water body, pumps it through a pipe for use as a heat exchanger, and returns it back to the environment
  • ARI-330, Ground Source Closed-Loop Heat Pumps (GSHP). A water or water/glycol (antifreeze) solution flows continuously through a closed loop of pipe buried underground. Ground heat is absorbed into or rejected from the solution flowing in the closed loop. At the heat pump, heat is drawn from or dumped to the closed loop solution via heat transfer through a heat exchanger, which passes heat to, or removes heat from, the refrigerant in the heat pump
  • ARI-870, Direct Geoexchange Heat Pumps (DXHP).  A geothermal heat pump system that uses refrigerant in a buried pipe loop as a heat exchanger. The refrigerant in the loop never leaves the system. A direct expansion system is a ground source system with a closed-loop which uses refrigerant throughout the system rather than a water/glycol solution to exchange heat

Out of 115,442 geothermal heat pump units shipped in 2009, a total of 22,009 were WSHP units (ARI-320 rated), 87,717 were GWHP or GSHP units (ARI-325 or ARI-330 rated), and 759 were DXHP units (ARI-870 rated).  ARI-rated shipments decreased to 110,485 units in 2009, while the number of other non-ARI rated units shipped decreased to 4,957 in 2009 (Table 4.1).  

Of the 27 manufacturers reporting GHP shipments in 2009, many manufacturers also reported being involved in one or more of the following geothermal heat pump-related activities (Table 4.15):

  • 17 designed geothermal heat pumps or systems
  • 13 developed prototype geothermal heat pumps only
  • 7 developed prototype systems, which include geothermal heat pumps and other components
  • 18 were involved in wholesale distribution
  • 3 were involved in retail distribution
  • 3 installed GHP products
  • 4 manufactured system components

In addition, several manufacturers are planning to introduce new geothermal heat pump-related products in the next calendar year (Table 4.13):

  • 10 plan to introduce new ARI-320 rated water-source heat pumps
  • 13 plan to introduce new ARI-325 rated ground water-source heat pumps
  • 11 plan to introduce new ARI-330 rated ground source closed-loop heat pumps
  • 2 plan to introduce new ARI-870 rated direct geoexchange heat pumps
  • 4 plan to introduce new Non-ARI rated heat pumps in 2010 (Table 4.13)

In 2009, direct employment in the geothermal heat pump manufacturer industry accounted for 1,832 person-years33 (Table 4.14).  Of the 27 manufacturers, 12 had 90 percent or more of their total company-wide revenues from geothermal heat pump-related activities, 3 had 50 to 89 percent, 4 had 10 to 49 percent, and 8 manufacturers had less than 10 percent (Table 4.16).

Geothermal Heat Pump Shipments

The total rated capacity of geothermal heat pumps shipped in 2009 was 407,093 tons, approximately 2 percent less than the 2008 shipments of 416,105 tons (Table 4.2).  The average unit size shipped in 2009 was 3.53 tons, compared to an average unit size of 3.43 tons in 2008 (Table 4.1 and Table 4.2). 

In 2009, water-source heat pump (ARI-320 rated) shipments decreased to 56,181 tons (Figure 4.2 and Table 4.2).  This category has fluctuated in the past few years, largely due to one manufacturer classifying its equipment differently each year.

Shipments of ground water-source heat pumps and ground source closed-loop heat pumps (ARI-325/330 rated) continued to dominate the GHP industry in 2009, accounting for more than 73 percent of the total shipments (Figure 4.2 and Table 4.2).  The shipments of ARI-325 and ARI-330 were 298,209 tons of capacity, a nearly 2.8 percent decrease from the corresponding 2008 shipments. 

Shipments of direct geoexchange heat pumps (ARI-870 Rated) totaled 3,103 tons in 2009 (Figure 4.2 and Table 4.2).  

Despite the decline in total shipments, capacity of non-ARI rated heat pump shipments in 2009 increased more than 5.6 percent (49,600 tons) from 2008 shipments (Figure 4.2 and Table 4.2).  

Figure 4.2:  A clustered bar chart that shows the rated capacity of four types of geothermal heat pump shipments from 2004 to 2009.

Source: U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA), Form EIA-63B, "Annual Photovoltaic Module/Cell Manufacturers Survey.
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Total Revenue and Average Price

The total revenue for shipments of geothermal thermal heat pumps was approximately $319.5 million in 2009, almost the same as 2008 (Table 4.5).  Revenue includes charges for cooperative advertising and warranties, but does not include excise taxes and the cost of freight or transportation. 

The average price (dollars per ton) for water-source heat pumps (ARI-320 rated) was $590.38 in 2009, ground water-source heat pumps and ground source closed-loop heat pumps (ARI-325/330 rated) was $835.21, direct geoexchange heat pumps (ARI-870 rated) was $957.10, and non-ARI rated heat pumps was $691.54 (Table 4.5).   

Domestic Shipments

During 2009, domestic shipments declined slightly, with rated capacity totaling 338,689 tons, a 2 percent decrease from 346,622 tons in 2008 (Table 4.6).  

During 2009, GHP shipments to domestic wholesale distributors, the largest customer category, totaled 173,065 tons of capacity or 51 percent of the domestic market share.  Shipments to the second-largest customer category, installers, amounted to 154,321 tons, or nearly 46 percent of the domestic market-share (Table 4.10).

In 2009, domestic shipments to the residential sector accounted for 172,559 tons of capacity or almost 51 percent of the domestic market.  Of the domestic shipments to the residential sector, 4.8 percent were ARI-320 rated, 88 percent were ARI-325/330 rated, 1.5 percent were ARI-870 rated, and 5.6 percent were non-ARI rated (Table 4.11).  The commercial sector was the second largest domestic market in the United States in 2009, accounting for 156,533 tons of capacity or 46 percent of the domestic market share.  Almost 27 percent of the purchases for this sector were ARI-320 rated GHP, 61 percent ARI-325/330 rated GHP, just over 0.01 percent ARI-870 rated GHP, and 12.5 percent non-ARI rated GHP. The industrial sector, with slightly less than 3 percent of domestic shipments, was the smallest domestic sector.

Complete Systems

In general, geothermal heating/cooling systems provide space heating and cooling, as well as water heating.  A complete geothermal heating/cooling system is defined as a unit with all the necessary functional components, except for installation materials. The system includes three principal components (listed below) and a device called a “desuperheater” which can be added to produce hot water when the system is providing heat or air conditioning.

The major components are:

  • Geothermal earth connection subsystem:  Using the earth as the heat source and heat sink, this subsystem consists of a series of pipes which are commonly called a “loop.” They carry a fluid used to connect the geothermal system's heat pump to the earth near the building to be conditioned
  • Geothermal heat pump subsystem: An electric heat pump that exchanges heat between the fluid and the air that conditions the building
  • Geothermal heat distribution subsystem: An air-delivery system that delivers the conditioned air to the building

Of the manufacturers reporting 2009 shipments, the majority of these manufacturers sell only geothermal heat pump subsystems (geothermal heat pump units), and three manufacturers reported selling complete systems.  The complete systems accounted for 19,598 tons, or 5 percent of total (including exports) GHP shipped in 2009 (Table 4.6 and Table 4.12).

Origin of Shipments

Of the 407,093 tons of total GHP capacity shipped in 2009, 250 tons were imported from China.  The remaining 406,843 tons of GHP capacity shipped were manufactured in the United States.  The top five manufacturing states were: Florida, Indiana, Oklahoma, South Dakota, and Texas, with almost 57 percent (231,471 tons) of the total capacity shipped from Indiana and Oklahoma (Table 4.8).

Destination of Shipments

GHP export shipments totaled 68,404 tons of capacity in 2009.  The export market accounted for nearly 17 percent of total capacity shipments and was dominated by sales to Canada, with more than 83 percent (56,845 tons) of total exports (Table 4.7).

In 2009, domestic GHP shipments totaling 338,689 tons of capacity went to all 50 States, and the District of Columbia (Table 4.6).  About 52 percent of domestic GHP shipments (176,162 tons of capacity) went to ten States: Florida, Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania, and Texas, with more than 13 percent (44,705 tons of capacity) of the total sent to Ohio and Pennsylvania.

Geothermal Direct Use of Energy and Heat Pumps

EIA does not collect data on non-electric applications of geothermal energy such as crop drying and groundwater heat pumps. Analysis conducted by the Oregon Institute of Technology, Geo-Heat Center, indicated that non-electric uses of geothermal energy amounted to nearly 53.7 trillion Btu in 2009, increased more than 16 percent from a year ago (Table 4.17)34. Almost 84 percent of this energy was provided by geothermal heat pumps.


Data Tables

4.1 Geothermal heat pump shipments by model type, 2000 - 2009
4.2 Rated capacity of geothermal heat pump shipments by model type, 2000 - 2009
4.3 Average cooling efficiency for geothermal heat pump shipments, 2008 and 2009
4.4 Average heating efficiency for geothermal heat pump shipments, 2008 and 2009
4.5 Geothermal heat pump shipments by model type, quantity, revenue, and average price, 2008 and 2009
4.6 Geothermal heat pump shipments by destination, 2008 and 2009
4.7 Distribution of U.S. geothermal heat pump exports by country of destination, 2008 and 2009
4.8 Geothermal heat pump shipments by origin, 2008 and 2009
4.9 Distribution of U.S. geothermal heat pump imports by country of origin, 2008 and 2009
4.10 Geothermal heat pump domestic shipments by customer type and model type, 2008 and 2009
4.11 Geothermal heat pump domestic shipments by sector and model type, 2009
4.12 Shipments of complete geothermal heating/cooling systems, 2008 and 2009
4.13 Number of companies expecting to introduce new geothermal heat pump products in 2010
4.14 Employment in the geothermal heat pump industry, 2007 - 2009
4.15 Companies involved in geothermal heat pump activities by type, 2008 and 2009
4.16 Geothermal heat pump-related sales as a percentage of total company sales revenue, 2008 and 2009
4.17 Geothermal direct use of energy and heat pumps, 1990 - 2009