In this 2018 best heat pumps guide, we define “best” four ways:
- Quality: Heat pump reliability and durability are important considerations. These brands have lower-than-average repair rates and better-than-average longevity.
- Efficiency: What’s the most efficient heat pump brand across its entire lineup? We present the brands with the lowest energy use and operating costs.
- Value: We define value as a combination of affordable cost and quality that is at least good, though perhaps not exceptional.
- Performance: What heat pumps deliver the most comfortable heating in cold months and air conditioning with dehumidification in warm months? That’s what the performance category is all about.
2018 Best Quality Heat Pump
If finding a workhorse heat pump that can be depended on in the most extreme weather is your essential criterion, start your research with these brands.
American Standard & Trane: These sister brands from Ingersoll-Rand have fewer mechanical issues than most with outstanding durability too. The most dependable heat pumps from either brand are the top two-stage models.
- American Standard: We recommend the Gold 17 heat pump backed by a 12-year compressor warranty, one of the longest in the industry. American Standard’s highest performing models are the Platinum Series variable-capacity heat pumps, but we don’t think they’re as reliable. Expect 18-22 years longevity from the Gold 17 when the heat pump is properly maintained.
- Trane: The corresponding Trane models is the XL18i. It’s not Trane’s top performer either, but is the most reliable. These American Standard and Trane models are two-stage heat pumps and use the Trane-built Climatuff compressor that has a proven track record of durability. The XL18i has the same 12-year compressor warranty as the American Standard Gold 17.
Maytag and Other Nortek Global Brands
Nortek Global is a large manufacturer and the parent company of nearly identical brands Maytag, Westinghouse, Frigidaire, Tappan, Nu-Tone and Broan. These models consistently outperform most other brands in reliability. One reason for this is the 144-point inspection and testing of each unit before it leaves the factory. This prevents defective heat pumps from being shipped.
Nortek Global stands behind its heat pumps with a 12-year general parts warranty on all models. Across the industry, parts warranties are usually 10 years on top models and 5 years on lower-tier heat pumps. Additionally, top models include a 12-year total unit replacement warranty if the compressor fails.
*A Note on Heat Pump Quality: Proper installation can’t make a cheap heat pump last longer. However, faulty installation can cause a very good heat pump to fail mechanically long before it should. It is very important to research your installer with the same due diligence that you research a heat pump.
We recommend getting estimates from several HVAC companies and learning about the training and experience of the crew that will install your heat pump. Ask about the installing company’s personal warranty on labor – not just what the brand offers.
Getting heat pump and installation estimates can be a time-consuming process – gathering names, making calls and interviewing representatives. If you’d like to shorten the process, consider using our Free Local Quote service using the form or making a single phone call. The service provides you with free written estimates from several of the top heat pump installers in your area. The local companies are prescreened to ensure they are licensed, insured and experienced. There’s no obligation or cost to you for using the service, and it’s a good way to ensure proper installation and durability to protect your investment.
2018 Most Efficient Heat Pumps
Many homeowners put energy savings at the top of their list of what to look for in a heat pump. Whether you’re concerned about lowering your monthly energy bills, want to heat and cool as green as possible, or both, these 3 brands stand out as the best heat pump brands for efficiency.
Lennox: This brand made a serious commitment to energy efficiency more than a decade ago, and it shows in its heat pumps, ACs, furnaces and accessories. Here’s why Lennox is our most efficient heat pump brand winner.
- The Lennox XP25 variable-capacity heat pump has the highest SEER rating of standard split system heat pump available. It delivers up to 23.5 SEER air conditioning efficiency, and its 10.2 HSPF heating efficiency is quite good too.
- The least efficient Lennox heat pumps are 16 SEER models when most brands still make 13-15 SEER heat pumps.
- Lennox SunSource photovoltaic (PV) solar modules can generate enough energy to run the HVAC system, creating net zero energy use and cost.
Carrier & Bryant: These nearly identical brands from United Technologies were on the leading edge of producing energy-efficient HVAC equipment in the 2000s. Here’s why they’re on the list.
- The Carrier Infinity 20 25VNAO and Bryant Evolution 280A heat pumps have the highest HSPF rating for heating, an impressive 13.0 HSPF. These units are ideal for cold climates and can be paired with an efficient Infinity or Evolution gas furnace for dual fuel or hybrid heating.
- Carrier and Bryant make 6 heat pump models with a SEER rating of 17.5 or above. Two are variable-capacity models and four are 2-stage heat pumps. That’s 2-4 more high-efficiency heat pumps than most other brands. They give you more options for performance and heating and air conditioning efficiency.
2018 Best Value Heat Pumps
A heat pump that offers value had to be more than just inexpensive. It also must heat and air condition dependably and be expected to last 16-20 years with normal maintenance. These brands offer respectable quality and the best warranties in the industry. A warranty tells you what the manufacturer thinks of the products it sells. The strong warranties limit your risk too.
Goodman, Amana and Daikin:
The Goodman brand has been the value leader for more than 25 years. It’s stock in trade has been decent quality backed by the best warranties in the industry. In 2011, HVAC giant Daikin Global bought Goodman and reduced the warranty coverages. Still, the warranty for top models like the Goodman GSZC18 and DSZC18 is excellent. If the compressor on these models ever fails the original owner, Goodman will replace it – even 15 or 20 years after installation.
Amana has been a Goodman brand for decades and is now part of Daikin Global too. Amana offers an even better warranty on top models. If the compressor or coil fails the original owner, the entire outdoor heat pump will be replaced. Goodman and Amana are identical brands, except that Amana sells a premium model not available from Goodman.
Daikin structures the warranties different to keep Goodman products the low-cost leader in the industry. Daikin-branded heat pumps are mostly identical to Amana’s. They are backed by a 12-year unit replacement and 12-year general parts warranty.
International Comfort Products (ICP) is the maker of a handful of brands including Heil, Arcoaire, Comfortmaker, Day & Night, KeepRite and Tempstar. Boasting very good quality at prices competitive with other top brands, the heat pumps from ICP are also backed by a No Hassle warranty. It’s 10 years on top models, 5 years on second-tier models and 1 year on some lesser models. The No Hassle warranty specifies that if the compressor or condensing coil fails during that period, the company will replace the entire heat pump, not just the failed part. Aside from the No Hassle warranty, the units are also covered by a 10-year general parts warranty for your protection and peace of mind.
2018 Best Performance Heat Pumps
The top performance available today is from heat pumps with variable capacity. Also called modulating heat pumps or a heat pumps with inverter technology, variable-capacity heat pumps modulate the amount of heating or air conditioning they produce like cruise control on a car. They run at the capacity required, between 40% and 100% (25% to 100% for some brands), to keep indoor temperatures evenly balanced. Capacity adjustments are very smooth and can be as small as .2%. There are several benefits to variable-capacity heat pumps:
- They are the most efficient heat pumps available, with SEER ratings from 19 to 23.5 currently, a figure that will continue to rise as the technology advances. In fact, mini split heat pumps already offer SEER ratings over 30. All the details are in our Guide to Mini Split Systems.
- Variable-capacity heat pumps offer the best climate control. They modulate in small increments to keep indoor temperatures within .5 degrees of where you set it. Because they run at the lowest possible capacity to maintain that balance, the cycles are longer. The advantage of this is superior dehumidification during air conditioning cycles. If your air handler or furnace is equipped with a humidifier, you’ll get better winter humidification with a modulating heat pump too.
- Lower capacity means quieter operation. These units run as quietly as 55 decibels compared with 72+ decibels for heat pumps running at full capacity.
All major heat pump brands make variable-capacity heat pumps. Our top picks are:
- Carrier Infinity 20: It has been sold since about 2011, so it has a track record of dependability. With 20 SEER/13 HSPF efficiency, it will also significantly reduce energy use and cost.
- Lennox XP25: This model has the highest SEER rating at 23.5, so it is a good choice in regions with extreme heat and/or humidity. The one concern with Lennox is that repair technicians must use Lennox proprietary replacement parts. At times, getting the parts takes more time, slowing the repair job from a day or two to a week or more.
- Amana AVZC20 and Daikin DZ20VC: These units offer 21 SEER/10.0 HSPF efficiency with excellent warranties to go with their variable-capacity heating and cooling.
We’ve reviewed most of these brands. For more details, use our search box or links below to find reviews of brands you’re considering such as:
You might also find the comprehensive information in our Heat Pump Buying Guide to be useful in your purchase decision.