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Heat Pump Maximizer (Patent # 6.176.306)
Patent # 6.176.306

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The Ground Hog: Air Source / Ground Source Geothermal Heat Pump

The heat pump that addresses all your fears about ground source and air source heat pumps

Yes it's finally here. The Groundhog is our new geothermal heat pump combines air source and ground technology to produce a superior geothermal/air source combination heat pump system.

What are the advantages of an air source/ground source geothermal heat pump system?

  1. Greater efficiency. Air source heat pumps are often more efficient in less extreme weather. The endless supply of free flowing outdoor air can provide a great source of convection for longer run times without the thermal depletion of the earth field that can occur with geothermal units. Ground source systems are often more efficient in extreme weather conditions. The constant and more stable ground temperatures can provide an efficient source of convection as long as the earth field is not over worked. The ability to utilize both sources gives the Groundhog a unique advantage to achieve comfort and efficiency.
  2. Lower installation cost = Lower geothermal heat pump cost. The Groundhog’s multisource technology requires less drilling to obtain the same BTUH as conventional geothermal systems.
  3. Faster installation time. Less drilling is less time consuming, and better still, the Groundhog can function without being attached to the earth field which is ideal when a nonfunctioning system needs to be replaced quickly. The earth field can be installed at a later date, and the homeowner can start enjoying the comfort as quickly as with a typical air source system installation.
  4. Less threat of a total system failure. In the rare event of a ground loop failure, the Groundhog can still produce adequate heating and cooling.
  5. More efficient dehumidification. The Groundhog system uses a multi-speed compressor, as well as a variable speed fan motor to remove more unwanted humidity in the cooling mode.
  6. Better balanced heat control. The Groundhog air handler is equipped with MaximizerTM technology which measures the temperature rise at the indoor coil. This allows the system to determine the correct compressor and heat stage mode for the best balance of comfort and efficiency.

Groundhog water heating options

Atlas offers an optional desuperheater which is a secondary heat exchanger that transfers heat from the Groundhog into your domestic hot water tank. The device provides supplemental hot water whenever the Groundhog is heating or cooling your home. The hot water circulator pump moves the cold water from the bottom of your hot water tank through a water pipe to the desuperheater itself. The water is then heated and sent back into to your hot water tank.

Heating water with a Groundhog can save up to 30 percent less in a heating dominated climate, and up to 75 percent less in a cooling dominated climate compared to a typical electric, oil, or propane fired hot water heater. At the present cost of natural gas the savings is about 10 percent less.

In the summer heating your domestic water is almost free. This is because the heat that is being removed from your home is transferred into your hot water tank. Since most of this heat is being sent back into the earth anyway, putting it into your hot water tank instead is free. The only cost for the summer water heating is the small cost of running the circulator pump that moves the water. Another added bonus is that heating the water helps cool the refrigerant. This allows the compressor to use less electricity which usually off sets the cost of running the circulator pump.

The Groundhog


  • The Ground Hog solar heat pump uses all three natural, and free solar energy resources available in its proprietary operation cycle. These solar energy resources consist in use of intense solar energy beamed directly to a refrigerant charged solar collector panel, free flowing outside ambient air temperature elements, and stabile, constant earth stored temperature.

  • By combining all three of these solar resources into one proprietary system product, the Ground Hog triple solar source heat pump technology accomplishes maximum efficiency performance using less electricity to operate the compressor, and supplemental auxiliary heat. This engineering innovation is accomplished through constant modulation of the closed circuit refrigerant management cycle. In this process, solar generated heat energy is used to immediately increase the refrigerant pressure, and temperature sent directly to the condenser thereby radically reducing the compressors energy consumption, and operating load.

  • The air, and ground source geothermal heat pump technologies rely solely on use of one solar energy resource in their operating cycle, and function with temperature sensing thermostat control without regard to increased performance benefits gained using refrigerant modulation principles. This poses fundamental limitations in operating efficiency, and creates questionable investment cost appreciation for the end user consumer whose primary goal is to achieve stellar operation efficiency performance, coupled with minimal investment cost. Furthermore, both technologies are restricted, governed by prevailing earth or air temperatures in delivery of their operating performance, and must be engineered to achieve maximum efficiency performance. It is commonly known throughout the HVAC industry that reliance on either of these solar resources alone cannot assure peak, and complete operating performance without using excessive amounts of supplemental auxiliary heat, or in the case of geothermal energy systems, incur substantial earth drilling, excavation, or engineering design investment costs to assure maximum operating performance.

  • The Ground Hog triple solar source heat pump provides a more cost efficient solution in addressing these industry wide deficiencies, and uses an expanded solar energy approach to achieve superior performance. To begin, It operates using one high efficiency rated two stage, variable speed or multi stage outdoor air source compressor unit connected to one solar panel of 4 X 8 or 4 X 6 foot design weighing less than 200 pounds, and one single closed earth loop consisting of 25 % total length of the outdoor condenser coil (customarily 50 feet in length) installed in the earth either vertically or horizontally. The three solar source components are to create our proprietary modulating refrigerant management circuit. The kwh power equivalent yield generated by the sole solar panel is rated up to 10.6 kwh or 90,000 BTU output performance as compared to a traditional HVAC systems. This then accounts for a major increase of BTU gain in the overall system performance capability. The earth loop connection increases, and boosts the systems operating performance by constant use of geothermal earth heat extraction or heat rejection principles. Using the earth as our heat sink also enables the Ground Hog solar system to provide pre-heated water generated during operation run cycles through its desuperheater component additive. The integrated, proprietary air source outdoor compressor unit operates constantly regardless of outdoor ambient air temperature swing. This function enables full collection, and use of all available free flowing solar air heat elements while managing the critical refrigerant cycle flow distribution between the solar collector panel, and the geothermal earth loop.

  • The Ground Hog solar heat pump system includes a proprietary variable speed air handler with proportionately sized kwh heat element capacity, and its patented delta control. However, as a contractor courtesy, industry alternative variable speed or high efficiency air handler products can be substituted, and installed with our solar heat pump. In this case, the standard manufacturer supplied supplemental heat kit operating efficiency can also be enhanced by installing our patented Heat Pump Maximizer delta control ( ). This patented, time control technology incorporates a temperature comparing relay to determine the exact amount of heat produced by the outdoor unit, measured against the delta T air temperature differential between indoor room air entering, and leaving the air handler evaporator coil. This unique, precise means of temperature differential calculation, and regulation eliminates excessive outdoor unit run time, reduces auxiliary heat short cycling resulting in more operating cost efficiency, and a warmer home.

  • The Ground Hog solar hybrid heat pump is equipped with isolation valves to isolate connections to the earth loop or solar panel, and is delivered pre-charged with refrigerant. This has been done to position our system as a true hybrid triple source solar heat pump available for immediate sale as a rescue, restore to service product for the replacement or retrofit markets. This engineering implementation also provides the selling contractor flexible installation scheduling of the solar collector or earth loop components, and facilitates future service maintenance ease.

  • The Ground Hog solar heat pump system is an Energy Star accredited technology that has an important cost recovery advantage beyond operating efficiency, and overall cost containment in comparison with air source or geothermal ground source heat pump technologies. This advantage is significant in monetary financial reward consideration as legislated, and approved under current federal tax code. The current approved solar energy federal tax credit is equal to 30 % of the project equipment expenditure with no maximum credit limitation for eligible solar property used to heat, cool or provide hot water for use in a building structure. The 30 % tax credit expires on 12/31/2019. Thereafter it reduces down to 26 % through 12/31/2020, 22 % through 12/31/2021, and 10 % through January 1st 2022 and forward. There may be other local state or municipality financial leverage or eligible incentives available in your area. Please reference the published web site data base regarding these solar technology inspired opportunities.


Atlas Controls L.C. Phone: (703) 335-1730 or Toll Free: (800) 810-2206
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