(Last Update: May 9th 2017) Though there are many different types of heat pumps, they all work on the principle of heat transfer. They function through forced movement of heat from a colder place to a warmer one, the opposite of which happens naturally. Heat pumps are mostly beneficial in moderate climates though newer makes are attempting to improve efficiency in more extreme seasons and climates.
If you are planning to install a heat pump, it is very important that you understand all the aspects involved – such as price, efficiency and model – and make all the right considerations. Installing a heat pump system will cost you several thousand dollars; doing due diligence will ensure that you fully get your money’s worth. Use the following infographic as a first step toward the perfect heat pump for your home. Then we will explain details one by one 🙂
Heat Pump vs. Other Heating & Cooling System
For cooling process, heat pump and air conditioner are identical. During the heating process, heat pump can bring you 3 Kilowatt heat by consuming 1 Kilowatt (Amazing! Because heat pump transfer another 2 Kilowatt from outside), while the best gas furnace can only generate 0.98 Kilowatt by 1 Kilowatt. So far the heat pump efficiency (300%) seems to be unbeatable in heating, however when the outside temperature goes down, the heat pump efficiency dramatically drop until it is not enough to meet your need, then it’ s time to add backup heat source. Backup heat source will obviously increase your upfront cost. So when to choose heat pump?
Here are the main factors to consider when deciding whether to choose heat pump:
• Climatic location – heat pumps work best in places that experience moderate climate. In a place where the outdoor temperature falls to or near zero, the system will use much more energy to heat the indoors. In such climate, supplemental heating is often necessary if you opt for a heat pump. But manufacturers are working on new systems that can operate well in a wider range of climates.
• Rebates and Tax Credit. Most US states offer tax credit and rebates for heat pump especially for geothermal(ground source) heat pump. You need to look up your local rebates news and we will open another section to update rebates and tax credit news for US states later. A good rebates can help you save 15%-35% upfront cost.
Related Article: 5 Places to Get Latest HVAC Tax Credit and Rebates
The best way to decide which system is best for your home is to call in HVAC professionals. They will come in, study your home including its location and size and then advice you on the best option that will save you money while keep your home comfortable.
Ducted VS Ductless (Mini Split)
After confirming heat pump is the best solution for your heating and cooling, another thing you need to decide is heat pump type: duct or ductless.
For the listed conditions below, we recommend ducted heat pump.
- Ducts Installed Already
- Replace Air Furnace or Central AC
- There is no good ductless installer in your area (there is still a shortage of experienced ductless installer in US)
If the listed below is one of your cases, you may prefer ductless heat pump.
- No duct Before or 15+ years Duct Installed
- Replace Wall Heaters, Baseboard or Window Air Condition
- Want Better Energy Saving and Quietness
- Adding Extra Rooms For You House
What’s more, ductless heat pump has a relatively high efficiency thanks to no heat leaking from duct, but the average upfront cost for ductless unit is $1000-$2000 higher than the ducted one. According to WashingtonEnergy Report, ductless heat pumps can still create comfortable heat at -4℉, which is much lower than traditional heat pump.
Components of Ducted Heat Pump
(Here is the constructure for ductless heat pump, we will update the details about ductless unit, if you prefer ductless heat pump, you can skip this part)
The following main components make up a ducted heat pump.
- An outdoor unit – This is the component that is installed outside the house. Within it, it contains the motor, fan, defrosting control, reversing valve and condensing coil. The reversing valve is what enables the system to switch easily from heating to cooling. The motor and fan work together to pull in air from the outside so as to cool or heat it before passing it on to the air handler.
- Air handler the air handler unit consists of an evaporator coil, an electric heater pack and a blower motor. The heater pack acts as the supplemental heat source in case outdoor temperatures go too low or the heat pump breaks down. The blower motor is responsible for moving cooled or heated air from the heat pump and into the system’s ductwork where it finally enters your home.
- Line set – This is a tubing made from copper. It connects the air handler to the outdoor unit and carries the refrigerant.
Important Basics For Heat Pump
Different models of heat pumps will perform differently. To ensure that you get the best one for your needs, here are important parameters you should consider.
1. Efficiency Ratings. There are two types of ratings used to rate the efficiency of a heat pump. Higher figures in both ratings indicate more efficiency of the system. SEER refers to seasonal energy efficiency rating and measures cooling efficiency. Look for a heat pump with a SEER rating between 14 and 16, though some expensive heat pumps can have a SEER rating as high as 20. HSFP refers to heating seasonal performance factor. It measures heating efficiency. A HSFP rating of between 8 and 10 is ideal. Note that high efficient heat pumps will cost you more but the returns are higher in the long run.
What SEER is the best choice, the more the better?
We personally recommend 14-16 SEER for heat pumps and air conditioners. Why? Initial Costs VS Total Savings. The average life span for current heat pumps is 10-15 years, which means you need get the money back in at least 8-10 years. The price for SEER 17–20 get started to be in higher range which is not worth the money. That why some brands(Ruud, York and Rheem) only offer 15-16 SEER even on their high-end products. More Details About How to Choose Best SEER
2. Size. This is a crucial factor that needs to be taken into account early on. Heat pumps are available in a variety of sizes, often measured in tons. The larger the size, the more the air output into the house. For a large home to experience efficient cooling and heating, a large capacity heat pump of 5 or 4 tons may be necessary. A smaller home can do with a more compact heat pump of 2 or 3 tons. There are various other factors that determine what size is right for your home including insulation, local codes, windows and ducts. To be sure of the right size, get a professional to do a survey of your home. Please Note that Larger Size is not better. Larger cooling capacity can lead more frequent circle ON and OFF, which finally decrease your efficiency and life span.
Related Article: Read This Sizing Guide Before Buy Any HVAC Unit
3. Variable speed blower. Recent models of heat pumps come installed with a variable speed blower instead of the traditional type. This blower operates at a variety of speeds, which results in energy savings, less noise and minimizing of cold drafts getting into the house. If your heat pump has the traditional blower, talk to a professional to see whether it is possible to install a variable speed one.
Related Article: 5 Benefits Of Variable Speed Fan
Other features to look out for include a programmable thermostat for temperature regulation, noise level of the outdoor unit, dual mode compressors and motors that save more energy and scroll compressors that are more efficient and quieter.
Leading Brands in the Market
There are more than 50 companies that sell heat pumps in addition to other HVAC equipment. Choosing from all these brands can truly be a challenge. To narrow down your choices, we classify the brands by parent companies. Each line below is from a same company:
- Carrier, Bryant, Payne and Tempstar
- Lennox, Ducane and Armstrong
- Rheem and Ruud
- Goodman, Amana and Janitrol
- York, Coleman and Luxaire
- Maytag, Westinghouse, Frigidaire and Kelvinator
- Trane and American Standard
- Maytag, Frigidaire and Tappan
Warning：Before you dive into brands reviews, we strongly recommend you spend 70% of your research time on finding a qualified contractor. Heat Pump is not a traditional appliance and most brands are reliable.
4. York series
York Heat Pump Review and Buying Guide
Better Installation is More Important Than Brands
We have got some complaints and reviews about each brand for the constant problem for compressor broken, freon leaking, and weird noise etc. Actually 80% of these problems are caused by the improper installation instead of bad brands. You will always get what you paid for the installation work. So never drastically decrease your installation budget for any case and remember to compare at least 3-4 contractors’ install fee. If you have a limited budget, you can choose some economical brands like Ruud, Goodman and Rheem etc instead of choose “economical” installation.
Key Factors For Heat Pump Pricing
One of the biggest factors that will affect how much you spend on installing a heat pump is your home size. A bigger home logically means that you need a bigger heat pump, which will be more expensive. It also means more work for the contractor with an example being the extra ductwork and wiring that need to be put in place.
The type of heat pump also matters a lot in the final cost. As mentioned before, a high efficiency heat pump will cost more. A geothermal heat pump (one that draws heat from the ground) generally costs twice as much as the more common air-to-air heat pump. The brand can also affect price, with some brands costing more than others do.
Another important factor is your location. Some states and local governments provide rebates and tax credits for homeowners who install heat pumps. The federal government is offering, until 2016, up to 30 percent tax credits on the price of a geothermal heat pump.
Other cost-influencing factors are;
- You local tax codes.
- The amount of work that needs to be done. The cost will be relatively high if installation involves tearing up walls and laying new ductwork. But if you are just replacing the outdoor unit and have the ductwork present, the overall cost will be lower.
- Contractor’s profit margin. Above the total calculated costs, the contractor will add a percentage for profit purposes. In most cases, they also mark up the price of the equipment.
- Governmental rebates and tax credit. Most states offer different range of rebates and tax credit. We can not offer you the detailed information for that. Please ask your friends and search google for latest states energy allowance.
Heat Pump Prices By Brands
Given that there are many parameters (like size, efficiency ratings, compressor stages) for heat pump. It is hard to list the price directly. In order to offer an objective price list, we need set an equal baseline. Each heat pump includes the same and common parameters: 15 SEER and 9 HSFP efficiency rating, 2.5 ton condenser, copper line-set, 1100-1300 cfm air handler, programmable thermostat (not wifi), 10 years warranty not including labor fee.
|Day and Night||$1,500||$4,590|
Heat Pump Prices By Size
Before installing or replacing your heat pump, a HVAC contractor need to size your system by “Manual J” calculation. This will take into accounts factors like where you live, insulation situation, windows types and direction and etc. Then you will get a right sized heat pump unit ranging from 1.5-ton to 5-ton. The price is the average price from 20 common brands above. The heat pump efficiency baseline is still 15 SEER, 9 HPSF.
Heat Pump Size
|1.5 ton||600-1000 sf||$1,540|
|2 ton||1001-1300 sf||$1,750|
|2.5 ton||1301-1600 sf||$1,950|
|3 ton||1601-1900 sf||$2,150|
|3.5 ton||1901-2200 sf||$2,360||$4,990|
|4 ton||2201-2600 sf||$2,550||$5,570|
|5 ton||2601-3200 sf||$3,060||$7,390|
Real Heat Pump Prices and Reviews From Readers
Brand & Model & Size
|$4,850||Goodman 3 Ton 13 Seer||West Terre Haute, IN||1440sqft|
|My girlfriend and I had this unit installed last year. It has saved us a ton of cash so far. Still in perfect condition. The company provides a ten-year warranty with each purchase.|
|$10,000||Lennox 14HPX-036||Landrum, SC||3000sqft|
|I took advantage of a spring sale and bought this heat pump. I also decided to have the ventilation system fixed. In addition, I decided to throw in a new air filter system. This was a precautionary move, to ensure I got the full benefits of the system. The performance by the workers was quite impressive; they completed all the work in just a day.|
|$4,950||Payne FB4ANF030||Winder, GA||2640sqft|
|So far so good, I have had the system running for five years now. It has helped to cut down my utility bills. Freeing up money for many other projects.|
|$6,950||Trane XL1000||Harrisburg, PA||1800sqft|
|This purchase was a replacement for an old Trane system, which has been running for fifteen years. Due to the reliable service form the previous system, we had no qualms about installing another one. It has been two years and the system is still working perfectly.|
|$6,550||Rheem 13JPL||Richmond, VA||3,400sqft|
|I had always heard about Rheem heat pumps and how great they were, so I decided to test one. It has been four years now, since I installed the heat pump. With an average of $100 savings each year. This is a great investment to continue using the system for many years to come. My last heat pump started giving me grief, only a year after installations. I decided to overhaul the entire system after the fifth repair in just one year. So far, it has been good, I cannot think of anything more that I would want from a heat pump that Rheem does not have.|
|$9,800||Carrier Infinity||Alexandria, VA||3200sqft|
|This was a replacement for an old system. Everyone in the house agrees that this is one of the most quite heat pumps. The system produces about 80% less noise than any other system I know of. Could not have asked for a better system.|
|$11,500||Carrier Greenspeed||Salem, NH||2500sqft|
|The system has been retrofitted into a Carrier system that is propane-fired. The results have been astounding. In just three months, it only used up 2,300 Kwh. It is important to watch out for air leaks to ensure a high level of heating efficiency.|
|$8,200||AMANA ASZC16||Lakeland, FL||3500sqft|
|We have had this heat pump running for the last five years. During which, it has provided reliable service. The option to control temperature and humidity was quite awesome. This feature is quite useful; those who live in Florida understand what I mean. In addition, the contractor was great and did a good job at installing the system. It has been running quietly for the past five years now. It is definitely quieter than our last system.|
|$4,800||Goodman GMV950905DX||Branson West, MO||1800sqft|
|I was replacing an old system of a home I moved into a few years ago. I have had many good things about the godman heat pump, so I decided to try it out myself. The system is generally reliable and runs quietly, a plus for any system. After two years, the system is still responsive and offers exactly what I expect.|
|$7,900||York LX||Seattle, WA||1640sqft|
|I replaced my old HVAC system with the York LX. For the past one year, it has continued to run perfectly, without any issues. I should point out that the cost is inclusive of upgrades in the heat duct systems. In addition, I paid extra for ten-year maintenance and parts replacement.|
|$7,500||Bryant, Evolution||Hamilton County, OH||2200sqft|
|The heat pump has continued to give us reliable service for over seven years. Anyone who may dissatisfied with the product, may be due to using shady contractors. Make sure to use company-certified installers to get value for money.|
|$6,750||American Standard, Heritage 13||Martin, TN||2100sqft|
|I replaced a Trane, which I had been using for 15 years. So far, the system has no issues and problems after three years of use. In addition, it does not consume as much power as some other heat pumps of the same size.|
This table is based on local customers feedback and online submitted information, we will update this table every 3-6 months to keep this up to date. If you want to share you previous Price details to help homeowners to make a better decision, click here to submit it or just leave a comment.
Buy The Equipment Yourself or From A Contractor?
Considering that a contractor might markup the equipment, you might find yourself considering buying the heat pump yourself. After all, there are plenty of online vendors selling heat pump systems and additional accessories.
But be very careful about buying the equipment yourself. Letting the contractor make all the purchases has many benefits. For one, it ensures that the warranty on the equipment is valid and enforceable. This is because the contractors deal directly with the manufacturers. Secondly, it guarantees quality of the equipment. On your own, you risk dealing with an untrustworthy vendor.
Thirdly, even with price markups, you will find that letting the contractor do the equipment purchase and buying them yourself costs roughly the same. This is because contractors often get deep discounts, which offset the markups they place on the original price. You are therefore getting no cost benefits by opting to buy the equipment yourself. In fact in some cases, a contractor can save you hundreds of dollars.
To ensure that you get the right heat pump, with the right specifications, it is best to leave it to the contractor. Of course you need to make sure that you have hired a contractor who is good and trustworthy.
How to Get the Best Heat Pump Prices
- Firstly, keep in mind that installation quality is always the most important thing for residential HVAC project. So never sacrifice contractor quality for lower price.
- Secondly, remember to look up the latest tax credit and rebates as we talked above.
- Thirdly, ask for at least 3 bids before you make the decision. You can click here to get 3 free estimates for you local contractor, and this estimate already take rebates and tax credit into consideration and filter unqualified contractors automatically.
Lastly, once you chose the right contractor, remember to use the tactics from this guide: Homeowners Tactics When Negotiating with HVAC Dealer to get the final best price.