This study offers a survey of installation and operational management of common small near-surface geothermal applications, as they are handled in practice. Specifically, ground-coupled heat pumps with borehole heat exchangers up to 150 m approximate depth are considered. Two wells with brine and one with CO2 as working fluid were investigated in detail. The wells were situated in different geological conditions (fine-grained sedimentary vs. granitic rocks); in addition, one of the brine-based installations was coupled with solar. The wells were monitored by means of fiber-optical temperature (FOT) measurements, and the operational conditions were compared with the help of these data. Furthermore, information on thermal effects in the subsoil and on its thermal recovery could be derived. From the synopsis of thermal measurement and operational data, conclusions on the efficiency of the installations could be drawn. However, it became clear that in the current practice of installing near-surface geothermal systems takes far too little account of (a) the documentation of geological conditions, as well as (b) the routine acquisition of operational data. Both is to be considered as mandatory, if the real-world efficiency of ground-coupled heat pumps shall be evaluated quantitatively and based on comprehensible numerical models. This is to be clarified with the companies early on within a project, and put into practice by proper planning (which is mostly done by the companies themselves), and enforced by form of contract.