Heat Pump Buying Guide – Prices, Reviews and Tax Credits 2018

This air source central heat pump guide is a comprehensive resource that answers all the questions:

  • How much does a heat pump cost?

We break down heat pump costs by brand, discuss factors affecting cost plus labor and supply cost for installation.

  • What are the best heat pump brands 2018?

We explain the different lines of models (basic, better and best) that most brands make and then categorize the brands themselves as budget brands, standard brands and premium brands.

  • What are my heat pump options?

You’ll find complete information on heat pump quality, performance, efficiency & size.

  • What’s the right heat pump for my home size and climate?

This guide explains choosing heat pump size and efficiency that’s best for your home and climate.

This handy navigation guide will help you find what you’re looking for, though if this is your first heat pump decision, reading the entire heat pump buying guide will assist you in making a purchase decision you’re happy with in the years ahead.

Heat Pump Brands and Factors Affecting Cost

There are four factors determining heat pump cost, and each is important. For example, two heat pumps that cost $7,500 installed could vary significantly in these four areas. That’s why it’s important to go beyond cost allow to understand these factors.

  1. Quality

Air Handler Quality Levels

As is the case with most products, central heat pumps are made in a range from budget to premium. Here are your quality options and brands in each category. Brands that have the same parent company and are essentially the same are included within parentheses.

  • Budget brands: Cheap and affordable. 12-16 years of durability: Payne, Aire-Flo, Airtemp, Ameristar, DiamondAir.
  • Standard brands: Mid-priced, good quality. 15-18 years of durability: (Daiking, Goodman, Amana), (Heil, Arcoaire, Day & Night, ComfortMaker, KeepRite and Tempstar), (Armstrong Air and Ducane), (Rheem and Ruud), (Luxaire, York and Coleman), and (Maytag, Broan, Westinghouse, Tappan, Frigidaire, Nordyne and NuTone).
  • Premium brands: Higher priced, excellent quality. 17-22 years of durability. Lennox, (American Standard and Trane) and (Carrier and Bryant).

If you dig into who owns the brands, you’ll find that United Technologies (UTC) owns two groups above – It owns Carrier/Bryant in the premium group. UTC also owns International Comfort Products (ICP). ICP makes the group headed by Heil in the standard brands list. The two groups of brands have different product lines.

Ingersoll Rand owns American Standard and Trane plus Ameristar, it’s budget brand with a different product lineup.

Lennox owns budget brand Aire-Flo that has a different lineup. Daikin, a global HVAC manufacturer, bought Goodman and Amana brands in 2010 to enter the US residential market. Maytag and its sister brands are owned by Nortek Global. Johnson Controls owns York and the others.

  1. Performance 


Performance and efficiency are related, but let’s look at them separately. All the large brands make a range of models to appeal to consumers across the spectrum. Carrier, for example, makes three lines: Infinity (Best), Performance (Better) and Comfort (Basic). Here they are, beginning with the most affordable lines:

  • Basic performance:These are single-stage heat pumps. They’re either on and running at 100% capacity, or they’re off. Basic models are made in efficiency ranges from low to moderate.
  • Better:These are mostly two-stage heat pumps with low capacity of about 65% and high capacity of 100%. They run on low most of the time to boost efficiency and indoor temperature balance. Efficiency in this class of heat pumps ranges from moderate to high.
  • Best:There are two-stage heat pumps and variable-capacity models. Variable capacity heat pumps are also called modulating. They have a compressor that constantly modulates capacity from about 40% to 100%. The purpose is to deliver exactly the right amount of heating or air conditioning to precisely balance temperatures. They are also the most efficient heat pumps available. Not all brands make variable-capacity heat pumps, and they are quite expensive.
  1. Efficiency

3 AC Efficiency SEER Level

Heat pumps use two efficiency ratings:

  • SEER:Seasonal Energy Efficiency Rating is the measure of air conditioning efficiency. 13 SEER units are the least efficient available in northern states. For southern states, units must be at least 14 SEER. The most efficient heat pumps on the market have ratings of more than 20 SEER. The Lennox XP25, for example, has a 23.5 SEER rating. SEER of about 15-17 is average.
  • HSPF:Heating Season Performance Factor measures heating efficiency. The most efficient models like the Carrier Infinity 20 have HSPF ratings of 13, though most are between 8 and 11.

Heat pumps heat at a much lower operating cost than furnaces. The electricity heat pumps use simply circulates refrigerant that captures and moves heat. It doesn’t create heat as electricity does in a space heater or fossil fuel does in a furnace. When you have the choice between a furnace and a heat pump, the heat pump might cost more upfront, but your long-term cost to run it will be 25% to 50% less.

Choosing the right efficiency for your climate is discussed below.

  1. Size

The smallest heat pumps in any line are either 18,000 BTU (aka 1.5 ton) or 24,000 BTU (2.0 ton). The largest are 60,000 BTU (5.0 ton). The ratings refer to the amount of heat the units move per hour.

Central Heat Pump Price List

We’ve broken down heat pump prices in two ways – by brand and by the size of the heat pump. This will give you a more accurate way to estimate the cost of the unit you select.

1.Heat Pump Price by Brands

The list below shows the quality level of each brand (Type) and the range of prices from the smallest and least efficient to the largest and most efficient. Brands with a narrow range make a smaller lineup of heat pumps. For example, Aire-Flo makes one model, Airtemp makes two and Payne makes four. All are available in several sizes.

Brands
Types
Unit Price
Models
SEER Range
Aire-FloBasic$985-$1,5001
14 only
AirtempBasic$1,035-$1,6502
14, 16
AmeristarBasic$1,065-$1,3502
13, 14
PayneBasic$1,075-$2,9504
14 to 17
DiamondAirBasic$995-$1,6602
14, 15
Armstrong and DucaneStandard$1,100-$3,1506
14 to 20
Amana, Goodman and DaikinStandard$1,150-$3,2004
15 to 18
Armstrong Air & DucaneStandard$1,165-$3,7006
14 to 20
Heil, Day & Night and TempstarStandard$1,135-$3,9256
14 to 19
York, Luxaire and ColemantStandard$1,100-$3,6757
13 to 20
Maytag, etc.Standard$1,235-$3,7005
15 to 19
Rheem & RuudStandard$1,200-$3,7506
14.5 to 20
American Standard & TranePremium$1,285-$3,9957
14.5 to 21
Carrier & BryantPremium$1,350-$4,17513
14 to 20.5
LennoxPremium$1,425-$4,2007
16 to 23.5

A Note on Packaged Heat Pumps

A packaged heat pump system is a single large cabinet containing the heat pump and the air handler. In that regard, it is different than a split system with a condensing unit/heat pump outside and the air handler or a furnace indoors. Packaged units are available at efficiency levels up to about 16 SEER. Single-stage and two-stage package units are made. Prices are $500-$1,000 more than split system heat pumps with comparable efficiency and performance.

Package units are typically only installed where a standard split system can’t be, such as a home with no basement or crawlspace and no interior room for a utility closet. Package units are not as durable because the entire system is outdoors in the elements.

2. Heat Pump Price by Size

We include heat pump size, size of the homes typically served, cost for the heat pump and the installed cost. There’s more information below on choosing the right size heat pump for your home by taking climate into account and a breakdown of installation costs.  (The below table is updated in 2018)

Heat Pump Size
Home Size
System Only
System Installed
1.5 ton600-1000 sf$985-$1,425
$2,285-$3,525
2 ton1001-1300 sf$1,100-$1,950
$2,400-$4,050
2.5 ton1301-1600 sf$1,255-$2,495
$2,555-$4,595
3 ton1601-1900 sf$1,385-$2,950
$2,685-$5,050
3.5 ton1901-2200 sf$1,450-$3,375$2,750-$5,475
4 ton2201-2600 sf$1,535-$3,735$2,835-$5,835
5 ton2601-3200 sf$1,700-$4,200$3,000-$6,300

3. Installation Costs and Extras

How much does it cost to install a heat pump? Here are standard costs and extras including accessories and supplies.

$1,300-$2,100 | Basic heat pump installation cost

This is the basic installation cost for a replacement heat pump when all accessories and connections are in place and usable. When very old heat pumps are replaced and when a heat pump is being installed in new construction, some of these costs might apply.

New Ductwork: New homes and additions require ductwork if a ducted system rather than a ductless mini split system is installed. The cost will be determined by the size of the home, number of stories and quality of the ducting.

$1,000-$3,500 | Insulated ductwork

Related Guide: HVAC Ductwork Cost Details and Ultimate Buying Guide

Condensing unit pad: Your outside unit, the condensing unit, shouldn’t sit on bare ground. Unless it’s being placed on an existing concrete slab, installing a pre-fab pad makes sense.

$30-$150 | Heat pump pad

Refrigerant lineset: The two lines in the set circulate refrigerant between the condensing unit and the indoor coil. They’re available in sets from 15’ to 50’.

Heat pump lineset: $125-$400

Air handler: The air handler contains the indoor coil that collects heat when air conditioning and disperses it when heating. Coils are sized to match the capacity of the heat pump. The air handler also houses the blower, control board and other electronic components. See our Air Handler Buying Guide for complete information including links to our various Air Handler Brands guides.

Air handler with installation | $2,000-$3,200

Thermostat: You’ll need a thermostat for new construction and when replacing a system if the new system has features and performance levels the old system didn’t. Our comprehensive Thermostat Buying Guide and brand reviews have all the details.

$12-$100 | Non-programmable thermostat

$15-$124 | Basic programmable thermostat

$135-$500 | Wi-Fi programmable thermostat

HVAC Zoning Controls:

The cost of zoning system is typically around $2,000 to $3,300 depending on the number of zones. For more information, read our HVAC Zoning System Cost Guide.

Other HVAC Optional Add-ons: There are a couple of optional add-ons you may have heard of. Those of you, who are interested in them, can take a look at:

What Size Heat Pump Do I Need

Heat pump size is an essential part of the equation as you decide on your next heat pump system. The shortcomings of a system that is too small are obvious. It won’t get the job done and will wear out quickly while trying. A heat pump that is too large will waste energy and cause noticeable temperature swings. They sometimes have a short-cycling problem that leads to mechanical failure.

HVAC professionals use a Manual J load test and similar methods to determine the best fit for any home. However, you can make a pretty accurate estimate using the information here. First, find your location on this US Climate Zone map.

The hotter or colder your climate is, the larger the unit will need to be per the square footage of your home.

  • Zones 1 & 2 (hot) and Zone 7 (very cold): 22-30 BTU/sq. ft.
  • Zone 3 (warm) and Zone 6 (cold): 20-24 BTU/sq. ft. 
  • Zone 4 (moderate) and Zone 5 (cool): 16-22 BTU/sq. ft.

Note: In Zones 6 and 7, the coldest zones, a system with an efficient gas furnace and small central air conditioner is also a good option.

Consider the average 2,000 square foot home each of these categories:

  • Zones 1, 2 & 7: 2,000 x 22-30 = 44,000 to 60,000 BTU heat pump (about 4.0 to 5.0 ton) 
  • Zones 3 & 6: 2,000 x 20-24 = 40,000 to 48,000 BTU heat pump (about 3.5 to 4.0 ton) 
  • Zones 4 & 5: 2,000 x 16-22 = 32,000 to 44,000 BTU heat pump (about 2.5 to 3.5 ton)

It’s not just your home’s size and climate that are considered. Your home’s construction is considered too. Home’s with energy-efficient materials and insulation levels need fewer BTUs per square foot than poorly constructed homes.

Here are two more important notes to consider before selecting a heat pump:

  • Is your home more efficient than it used to be?If you’ve upgraded your home’s energy efficiency (additional insulation, insulated doors, windows or siding, weather stripping, etc.), then the replacement heat pump should probably be smaller than the old heat pump.
  • Heat pumps and freezing weather:Standard heat pumps are not a great fit for very cold climates, at least in the dead of winter when temperatures regularly drop (or stay) below freezing. However, they do have lower operating costs than gas furnaces, so they are still worth considering even in very cold climates for use when temperatures are chilly but not bitter cold. They can be included in a dual fuel system that includes a gas furnace for heating when it’s freezing outside. Dual fuel details are below.

What Heat Pump Efficiency is Right for You?

Breaking down efficiency into three categories with factors for each will help you decide how efficient your next heat pump should be.

Basic efficiency: Up to 15 SEER/8.5 HSPF:

  • You live in a very temperate climate without extremes. Dry, moderate climates like the San Diego area and other small parts of Zones 3 & 4 are rare.
  • You plan to move in the next few years, so don’t want to spend a lot on a heat pump, and you are not concerned about how the efficiency of the heat pump might affect your home’s potential to sell.

Moderate efficiency: 15-17 SEER/8.5-9.5 HSPF:

  • You live in Zones 3, 4 or 5.
  • You live in one of those few temperate zones, so efficiency isn’t so important, but you want a two-stage heat pump or one that will be more attractive to energy-conscious home shopper.
  • You plan to live in your current home indefinitely and are willing to pay more for an efficient heat pump that will pay you back through lower utility bills.

High efficiency: 18 SEER/9.5 HSPF and higher:

  • You live in Zones 1, 2, 6 or 7 (and Zone 5 areas where summer humidity is very high).
  • Regardless of where you live, you’re committed to the most environmentally responsible heating and cooling available.
  • You want the performance of an efficient two-stage or variable-capacity heat pump.
  • You plan to live in your current home indefinitely and are willing to pay more for an efficient heat pump that will pay you back through lower utility bills.

Note: In Zones 6 and 7, the coldest zones, a system with an efficient gas furnace and small central air conditioner is also a good option.

Energy rebates and credits are available from most energy suppliers nationwide for homeowners that install moderately to highly efficient equipment. Call your energy provider or see its website for details. You’ll find additional information at DsireUSA.org.

Dual Fuel Heat Pumps and Cold Climate Heat Pumps.

If you want the operating cost and environmental benefits of efficient heating when temps are above freezing, consider a dual fuel or cold climate heat pump system.

  • Standard split system: This system includes a heat pump and an air handler. The heat pump does the primary heating. The air handler is often equipped with electric heating units ranging from 5kw to 25kw. Like a space heater, these backup heating units use electric resistance heat that is significantly more expensive to create than gas furnace heat. Their purpose is to boost heating in bitter cold or as emergency heat when the heat pump fails mechanically.
  • Dual fuel split system: This system includes a heat pump and a gas or oil furnace: The most common operation is to have the heat pump do all the heating when temperatures are above freezing. The furnace blower moves the warm air, just as it does when the furnace is also making the heat. The system can be set to automatically shift to the furnace for heating in extreme cold and back again when temperatures warm up. The temperature the switch takes place can be adjusted to the setting you prefer. You can read more in our dual fuel heat pump buying guide.
  • Cold climate heat pumps: The most efficient air source heat pumps qualify for a new categorization called cold climate air source heat pumps (ccASHP). To meet the criteria, they must have an HSPF rating of at least 10 and a coefficient of performance (COP) of 1.75 or greater at a temperature of 5 degrees Fahrenheit. This means they produce 1.75 times the heat that would be produced through resistance heat or a gas furnace that was 100% efficient. Currently the most efficient gas furnaces are about 98% efficient. In moderate weather, the COP of heat pumps is 3.0 to 5.0. Some of the current models that qualify as ccASHPs are the Amana AVZC20/Daikin DZ20, American Standard AccuComfort Platinum 20/Trane TruComfort XV20i, Lennox XP20, Bryant Evolution Extreme 280A/Carrier Infinity 20, Maytag PSH4 and identical units from sister brands. Many cold climate heat pumps can also be included in dual fuel systems to further reduce heating costs in the very coldest weather.

Heat Pump Brands Reviews

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.

Best Heat Pump Brand Reviews 2018

1. Carrier series
Carrier Heat Pump Reviews
Bryant Heat Pump Reviews

2. Goodman
Amana Heat Pump Reviews
Goodman Heat Pump Buying Guide

3. Trane series
Trane Heat Pump Reviews & Buying Guide
American Standard Heat Pump Reviews & Buying Guide

4. York series
York Heat Pump Review and Buying Guide

5. Lennox series
Lennox Heat Pump Buying Guide
Coleman Heat Pump Reviews

6. Rheem series
Rheem Heat Pump Reviews
Ruud Heat Pump Reviews

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.

Real Heat Pump Prices and Reviews From Readers

Price
 Brand & Model & Size
Home Location
Home Size
$4,850Goodman 3 Ton 13 SeerWest Terre Haute, IN1440sqft
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.
$10,000Lennox 14HPX-036Landrum, SC3000sqft
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.
$4,950Payne FB4ANF030Winder, GA2640sqft
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.
$6,950Trane XL1000Harrisburg, PA1800sqft
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.
$6,550Rheem 13JPLRichmond, VA3,400sqft
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.
$9,800Carrier InfinityAlexandria, VA3200sqft
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.
$11,500Carrier GreenspeedSalem, NH2500sqft
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.
$8,200AMANA ASZC16Lakeland, FL3500sqft
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.
$4,800Goodman GMV950905DXBranson West, MO1800sqft
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.
$7,900York LXSeattle, WA1640sqft
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.
$7,500Bryant, EvolutionHamilton County, OH2200sqft
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.
$6,750American Standard, Heritage 13Martin, TN2100sqft
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.

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 your local contractor, and this estimate already takes 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.

Do you live in the cold climate area and looking for dual fuel heat pump? See our Dual Fuel Heat Pump Buying Guide or Gas Furnace Price Guide for complete information on supplementary heating.

9 comments… add one
  • Hi Sandra

    Installation matters and you can use our free estimate tool to filter bad contractors: https://www.pickhvac.com/faq/free-estimate/

    Reply
  • Probably because they are chasing/taking advantage of the rebates many states offer homeowners to buy and have installed these pumps.

    Reply
  • Great information.
    Thank You, Eric

    Reply
  • Glad I found your website. Just in time to replace my current system.

    Reply
  • Great information. Now I feel ready for the salesperson

    Reply
  • WOW, it takes a lot to impress me. Anyone looking to buy a Heat Pump or just needing to stay informed needs to know about this website. WOW!!!

    Thank You!!

    Reply
    • Feel free to share it by facebook or twitter 🙂

      Reply
  • Great information. Thanks for compiling it. Can you tell me what year the real world prices were collected? Interested in Alexandria in particular.
    Thanks again,
    Eric

    Reply
  • I asked for 3 bids for 3 ton Ruud 14 seer heat pump condenser and a-coil in Newcastle, OK. Highest price was $6500, next was $3,800 from a Ruud dealer, ended up with a 5 star company for $3,550. My 18 year old Ruud heat pump went bad and had way higher electric kwph bills. Was happy with using a lot less expensive electric bill. Not happy with paying so much more than others on this website.

    Reply

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