Method of heat exchange in which convection drives pumpless circulation

This circulation can either be open-loop, as when the substance in a holding tank is passed in one direction via a heated transfer tube mounted at the bottom of the tank to a distribution point—even one mounted above the originating tank—or it can be a vertical closed-loop circuit with return to the original container. Its purpose is to simplify the transfer of liquid or gas while avoiding the cost and complexity of a conventional pump.

In some situations the flow of liquid may be reduced further, or stopped, perhaps because the loop is not entirely full of liquid. In this case, the system no longer convects, so it is not a usual "thermosiphon".

(Single-phase) thermosiphons can only transfer heat "upward", or away from the acceleration vector. Thus, orientation is much more important for thermosiphons than for heatpipes. Also, thermosiphons can fail because of a bubble in the loop, and require a circulating loop of pipes.

Without proper cooling, a modern processor chip can rapidly reach temperatures that cause it to malfunction. Even with a common heat sink and fan attached, typical processor operating temperatures may still reach up to 70 °C (160 °F). A thermosiphon can efficiently transfer heat over a much wider temperature range and can typically maintain the processor temperature 10–20 °C cooler than a traditional heat sink and fan. In some cases, it is also possible that a thermosiphon may cover multiple heat sources and, design-wise, be more compact than an appropriately sized conventional heat sink and fan.

Thermosiphons must be mounted such that vapor rises up and liquid flows down to the boiler, with no bends in the tubing for liquid to pool. Also, the thermosiphon's fan that cools the gas needs cool air to operate. The system has to be completely airtight; if not, the process of thermosiphon will not take effect and cause the water to only evaporate over a small period of time.