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August 2017: Nicholls Boreholes install their largest Commercial Ground Source Heat Pump (117kW) yet!

Nicholls Boreholes were selected by Synergy Property Group – a fully integrated property company based in Stevanage to work with one of their clients.Read more>

July 2017: Nicholls Install A GSHP In Award Winning Property

Nicholls Boreholes installed a 30 kW NIBE (three phase) Heat Pump to provide both hot water and space heating to the stunning barn conversion and annexe in Wisborough Green, West Sussex built by our sister company, Nicholls Countryside Construction Limited Read more>

June 2017: OFGEM Increase in Domestic RHI Tarriff

As Nicholls Boreholes is MCS accredited for Ground Source Heat Pumps, our customers are eligible to claim for the Government’s Renewable Heat Incentive (RHI) and OFGEM have confirmed the latest rates for the domestic RHI. The new rates for the Domestic RHI are as follows:- Ground Source Heat Pumps – 19.64p/kWh (up from 19.55/kWh) Read more>


May 2017: Nicholls Boreholes Drill a 210 Metre Water Borehole With Solar Panels For Nature Reserve Near Chichester

In February 2017 Kier Services, part of the Kier Group, contracted Nicholls Boreholes to drill and install a 210 metre water borehole at Kingsley Vale National Nature Reserve to provide irrigation for their cattle troughs. Read more>


February 2017: Nicholls Boreholes On TV!

On 5th January 2017 Ben Nicholls, Director of Nicholls Boreholes was interviewed on Channel 4’s The Restoration Man presented by George Clarke. Read more>


January 2017: OFGEM Increase in Domestic RHI Tarriff

As Nicholls Boreholes is MCS accredited for Ground Source Heat Pumps, our customers are eligible to claim for the Government’s Renewable Heat Incentive (RHI) and OFGEM have confirmed the latest rates for the domestic RHI which will apply to applications submitted from 1st January 2017. Read more>


December 2016: Heat Pump Installation In Felpham, West Sussex

In conjunction with our sister company Nicholls Countryside Construction Limited, Nicholls Boreholes are installing a 16kW Nibe heat pump into a stunning new build property on the seafront at Felpham, West Sussex. Read more>


November 2016: Nicholls Boreholes Chosen by Rockbit UK

Nicholls Boreholes were chosen by Rockbit UK Limited to promote their services in the UK using one of our Massenza MI8 drilling rigs in the November 2016 issue of GeoDrilling International. Read more>


October 2016: Ground Source Heat Pump Installation for Vineyard in West Sussex

Nicholls Boreholes have just finished a project to design, supply and install a 38kW Vaillant Ground Source Heat Pump System for a Client who had purchased land in Ditchling, West Sussex to build a new house and create a vineyard. Read more>


SEPTEMBER 2016: Solar PV Panels Powering Water Borehole on a Farm in South Downs

Nicholls Boreholes were contacted by a livestock farm near Graffham, West Sussex to provide a quote for supplying and installing a 177 metre water borehole to provide irrigation for their land and a water supply for their livestock. Due to the farm being situated on the top of the South Downs in an isolated position and with a lack of electrical supply, the water borehole is powered using solar PV (photovoltaic) panels. Read more>


AUGUST 2016: Nicholls Boreholes install Stiebel Eltron 13kW open-loop Ground Source Heat Pump in West Sussex

Nicholls Boreholes install a Stiebel Eltron 13kW open-loop Ground Source Heat Pump System for large family home in West Sussex. This system provides both hot water and heating through the under floor heating and also heats the indoor/outdoor swimming pool.
Read more>


 photo for July news 2016
JULY2016: Nicholls Boreholes drill 205m deep steel lined water borehole for a private school.

Nicholls Boreholes have just finished installing a 205m deep steel lined water borehole for a top private school in Oxshott, Surrey.  Read more>


Start of Race Jun News 2016
JUNE 2016:   Nicholls Raising Money for British Heart Foundation

Nicholls Boreholes and Nicholls Countryside Countryside Construction Limited teamed up for the annual London to Brighton bike ride and raised a fantastic £805.00 for British Heart Foundation.  Read more>



Nicholls Boreholes have just drilled and installed a 176m water abstraction borehole in the South Downs National Park which will be run off a solar panel system to be installed by Nicholls soon.  This was for a private Client who wanted a private water supply for his livestock.


MCS Approved Installer


As Nicholls Boreholes is MCS accredited for Ground Source Heat Pumps, their customers are eligible to claim for the Government’s Renewable Heat Incentive (RHI) and OFGEM have confirmed the latest rates for the domestic and non-domestic RHI which will apply to applications submitted from 1st April 2016.  Read more>


Photo for March news 2016 b


In March 2016, Stiebel Eltron held a 3 day Ground Source Heat Pump training event in Holzminden, Germany and as approved suppliers Nicholls Boreholes were invited to attend.  This included Ben Nicholls, Managing Director and Tom Giersz, Design Engineer.  Read more>


GSHP Service


Following the installation of Ground Source Heat Pump Systems (GSHPs) for a rural holiday development at Robertsbridge, on the East Sussex/Kent border, the client asked Nicholls Boreholes to put in place annual service … Read more>

GSHPs: horizontal collectors vs. boreholes

GSHP-article(2)With government grants now available to help customers install a ground source heat pump now is the time to really understand the benefits and key practical differences between the two most popular types of collector, for ground source heat pumps.

GSHPs: Horizontal collectors vs. boreholes?

Initial disruption

Most of us understand that horizontal collectors require quite a bit of land to install; this is necessary to ensure correct spacing of collector pipes to maximise their efficiency. The pipes are often installed approximately 1.5m below ground level; usually in trenches spaced equally apart. To really maximise efficiency and safety a large bulk excavation is undertaken and the pipe laid out like underfloor heating, ensuring very even distribution of heat is extracted. This kind of excavation requires big machines, time and space.

Many people are not aware that the collector area, once installed, will no longer be available for future tree planting, pond construction, driveways or any other construction as it has to be left porous and free from potential root damage. This can limit its application. Boreholes too require a bit of mess at the start, and there is initial disruption with the physical installation i.e. drilling rig and other plant. However when installed the boreholes can be positioned under buildings, drives etc and will take up far less space than horizontal collectors. Boreholes are often only 6” in diameter and have a small inspection chamber at the top of the hole.  

GSHP-article-(1)Local geology

Geology and ground conditions must be considered for both types of collector. Generally the best areas for horizontal collectors are saturated or wetter areas of the site; to give the best long term heat recovery and ensure lasting efficiency for years to come. Saturation is key to the horizontal collectors performing at their best.  In our experience the temperature within the collectors buried at 1.5m would fluctuate between 8oC (cold winter) 14 oC (hot summer) at 1.5m depth, depending on seasonal fluctuations. As you go deeper into the ground the temperature of the ground becomes much more stable and this is where boreholes come into their own…

Depending on the geology found on site the temperature at 100m deep would remain at approximately 12 oC all year round, unaffected by seasonal changes. At these depths the collector is well into the permanent water table level and would remain saturated all year round increasing conductivity too.

System life

Regarding the physical installation i.e. pipework, provided that the correct materials are used for the installation and fusion welded, both ground loop and borehole systems should have a similar expected lifespan. It is anticipate that both systems would be in excess of 50 years, theoretically longer as there should be very little degradation to the plastics used as they are not exposed to sunlight.  Both systems would require the glycol (heat transfer fluid) to be changed periodically.

It is imperative that there are no mechanical connections underground which cannot be mapped and ultimately be reached if necessary. Best practice would minimise joints in the system as far as is possible.

The collector system should always be checked annually when the heat pump is serviced to ensure that all of the collector loops are working correctly.

Money, money, money

A true cost comparison should be made between the systems after full design, however generally horizontal collectors are cheaper than boreholes as specialist equipment is not required.  This can vary between 0% – 30% reduction in cost depending on some of the following factors:

  • Poor local geology: requiring a larger collector field than normal.
  • Protection for horizontal collector: against sharp stones or other underground features.
  • Time spent excavating the trenches.
  • Landscaping: levelling, reseeding and revisiting this after the trenches have settled.

For horizontal collectors ground reinstatement could be considerable depending on the finished specification for landscaping.

System Efficiency

Even in a perfectly designed ground collector system their relative proximity to the surface means that there is potential for seasonal changes in ground temperature, and slightly increased heat pump inefficiency during winter.  And the same affect can happen in summer if you are cooling a building; when using the warm ground to cool water to be used in the building for active cooling.  

Boreholes conversely benefit from far greater depths and the water table and are not affected by the same fluctuations that horizontal loops are. As a result it enables your heat pump system in a cold winter to be running at the same efficiency as in warmer weather.  When cooling this is particularly beneficial; as a result boreholes are often used in office complex installations because of this superior cooling property.

Each collector type has their pros and cons, the best solution for your build will depend on cost, local geology or bespoke technical requirements. Either way you will be pleased to hear that the expertise for design and installation in this complex area is close at hand.

To find out more about ground source heat pumps and boreholes contact Nicholls Boreholes. If you have any further questions about renewable solutions or would like an independent feasibility study carried out for your property, contact Doug Johnson at Mesh Energy.

To see a case study on residential horizontal collectors click here>

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