This paper aims to investigate experimentally the effects of circulating coolant flow rate, groundwater table fluctuations, infiltration of rainwater, on the amount of thermal energy that can be recovered from the near surface soil layers. A comprehensive experimental investigation was carried out on a fully equipped tank filled with sand. A heat collector panel was embedded horizontally at the mid-height of the tank. Measurements of the temperature at various points on the heat collector panel, adjacent soil, inlet and outlet were continuously monitored and recorded. After reaching a steady state, it was observed that increasing water saturation in the adjacent soil leads to a substantial increase on the amount of heat recovered. A model was proposed for the estimation of temperature along the heat collector panel based on steady state conditions. It accounted for thermal resistance between pipes and the variability of water saturation in the adjacent soils. This model showed good agreement with the data. Whilst increasing the flow rate of the circulating fluid within the panel did not cause noticeable improvement on the amount of heat energy that can be harnessed within the laminar flow regime commonly found in ground source heat panels. Infiltration of rainwater would cause a temporary enhancement on the amount of extracted heat. Measurement of the sand thermal conductivity during a cycle of drying and wetting indicates that the thermal conductivity is primarily dependent upon the degree of water saturation and secondary on the flow path.