Compared to what the market had to offer in the HVAC department several years ago, heat pumps today are significantly more efficient in terms of energy consumption. In fact, the technology advancement recently has even made it possible for typical systems to keep preserving heat during colder weather. What’s more fascinating, however, is the fact that such systems can also be used to heat water for daily household use as well as radiant floor heating. If you’re looking to replace your old HVAC system with the new one, this best heat pump review will sure be of a good use for you.
What Is a Heat Pump?
Generally speaking, a heat pump is a system that works exactly the opposite of an air conditioner. Instead of cooling down the air, it raises the air temperature by pulling heat from certain sources and channeling it right into your house. These sources could be the outdoor air, underground chamber, ground water, and other typical sources that can preserve heat during winter. The parts it consists of are pretty much identical to those of an air conditioner. It has a fan, a compressor, a heat exchanger, and a few others. Now what makes a heat pump a more interesting deal than an air conditioner is you can reverse its workflow and turn it into a cooling system.
Types of Heat Pumps
There are many types of heat pumps to suit every need. So, to make it short and quick, let’s begin by looking at the heat source. In this matter, heat pumps are distinguished into three different models: air-source, ground-source, and water-source. The majority heat pumps used in typical households are the air-source. However, there is a growing trend lately that water-source begin to take the shift.
Since air-source heat pumps “stop” functioning in extreme cold weather (under 40F), manufacturers begin to offer hybrid heat pumps also known as dual fuel. In normal weather, it uses the outdoor air as usual but during extreme winter, it relies on the gas furnace that it’s equipped with. You think that’s pretty smart? Well, there’s another type that’s even smarter. It’s called solar heat pumps. Instead of using electricity, it runs on solar power.
Anyway, in terms of the sizes, you can either opt for a central heat pump or a window heat pump. The former heats the air way faster and may be sufficient for an entire house. Meanwhile, the latter is only good for one room but uses much less energy.
Last but not least, there is a certain type called ductless heat pumps. Some people prefer to call it mini split heat pumps. It uses just one outdoor unit to pull heat from then transfer it to a number of indoor units via branch box. It is far more energy efficient than conventional heat pumps.
The Benefits of Heat Pumps
As opposed to combustion-based heating systems, heat pumps benefits are quite apparent. First, it’s safer since it doesn’t involve any fire to make the heat. Furthermore, it’s cheaper. Most heat pumps today are way more efficient at consuming energy. You will hardly notice a huge spike on your annual electricity bill. Additionally, it doesn’t create any harmful byproduct, in this case, it’s carbon dioxide. Moreover, heat pumps can also function as air conditioning system. Basically, it’s two devices in one package. Lastly, even though there is some extent of maintenance to be done to ensure its longevity, it’s nowhere near the hard work you have to endure to take care of a combustion chamber.
Heat Pump Prices
The cost you need to afford to get yourself a nice heat pump installation varies, depending on what type of heat pump you want. A small window heat pump is generally sold in $500-$700 price range. A huge central heat pump, however, can easily cost you well over $2,000. Heat pump prices also vary with the brands. Japanese brands like Sanyo, Mitsubishi, and Fujitsu are popular for their affordable mid-range heat pumps. Most of them are ductless, so you will probably need to buy more than one. In contrast, top-tier heat pumps made by premium brands like American Standard for example are sold in $2,700-$3,000 price range.
What to Consider before Buying a Heat Pump
Among the most important think you have to consider is your location. If you live on an area where winter’s cold can be very challenging, you will at least need a hybrid heat pump. If you can afford the high price, geothermal heat pump works the best against extreme cold weather. In contrast, if you live in a warm climate area, an air-source heat pump should be adequate. On to the next matter, consider hire a professional installer. It may be a considerable extra cost but if you don’t know your way around and still insist on installing the system by yourself, you will absolutely end up spending more money; trust me.
As for the system itself, here are the most essential features you have to pay attention to get the best heat pump:
- Efficiency ratings: The standard rating for SEER and HSPF are 13 and 7.7 respectively.
- Cost: You should understand by now that heat pump prices vary with types and brands.
- Refrigerants: Make sure your heat pump of choice is R-410A compatible. Heat pumps using R-22 (Freon) refrigerants are harmful to environment.
- Noise: Loud noise on heat pumps is not only disturbing but also may signify poor build quality.
- Warranty: Heat pumps are not a cheap investment, so make sure you are covered with at least 3-year warranty for all parts.
Top 5 Heat Pump Brands Reviews
Trane Heat Pumps
If there were one thing that makes Trane heat pumps so dearly favored, it would be their longevity. The heat pumps Trane manufactures are not simply a bunch of different parts put together, but thoroughly engineered systems which are built to last a long time. They are divided into four different lines: Standard efficiency, High efficiency, Super efficiency, and Ultra efficiency. Their SEER / cooling efficiency rating starts from 10.00 up to 17.65. Meanwhile, the HSPF / heating efficiency is rated from 6.8 to 9.85. Many of these systems have Energy Star rating, especially the highest end models such as XL20i and XV18. Speaking of Trane’s most advanced heat pumps, they are well known for having variable speed compressors. Compared to typical one or two stage compressors, these specially engineered compressors are more energy efficient and produce the least noise; not to say that they have the least chance to deviate while controlling the temperature.
Goodman Heat Pumps
Being the second largest HVAC systems manufacturer in the entire USA, Goodman has been keeping a strict quality control over its products to ensure customers satisfaction. Goodman heat pumps are particularly known to be not only of premium grade but also more affordable, as opposed to the competing units. On average, their units cost $1,400 at wholesale price. The sum can go as high as $3,600 if you choose to have it installed due to extra parts and fee for the labor works. As for their efficiency, the SEER rating starts from 13 on the lowest end model up to 18 on the highest end model. The lowest HSPF rating is 8 – which meets Energy Star minimum requirement – while the highest is 9.5. Noise is barely noticeable, thanks to the application of discharge gas muffler combined with sound blanket. The most interesting feature, however, is the lifetime warranty for all compressors.
Carrier Heat Pumps
Carrier is not necessarily the largest brand in HVAC industry but it’s certainly one of the oldest. The company had been in the business since 1902 and always popular for the systems’ unmatched efficiency. Carrier heat pumps are broken down into three series with the INFINITY being the most advanced units and PERFORMANCE as well as COMFORT following right behind them. The highest SEER rating on Carrier’s INFINITY heat pumps is 20.5 with HSPF rating of 13. Such efficiency can only be achieved with the Company’s Greenspeed technology. It’s almost identical to the variable speed compressors offered by Trane, only this one is more quiet and more efficient. Unfortunately, like all amazing things, these heat pumps don’t really come with low price tag. As a matter of fact, heat pumps by Crane are one of the most expensive in the market today. The average cost complete with the installation is $5,875 while the wholesale price is $2,350.
York Heat Pumps
Let’s get you excited with the fact that York has handled the installation of heating and cooling systems on several major projects. By major I mean the company has ever been in contract with a number of leading country’s government and public facilities like Sydney Opera House, Paris Pompidou Center, and even the iconic Kremlin in Moscow. York heat pumps are well known for their durability against harsh weather. The fact of the matter is its highest end unit, the Affinity heat pump series, has the highest HSPF rating (10.1) in the entire industry. In layman’s term, that’s the same with the most prominent heat pump when it comes to heating the air. The SEER rating on its highest is 18. With such records, no wonder York’s Affinity heat pump is awarded as the Most Efficient Energy Star 2015. Anyway, prices vary depending on which series (Affinity, LX, or Latitude) you want to buy but on average the wholesale cost is $1,900.
Lennox Heat Pumps
Like most brands, Lennox heat pumps are categorized into three series: the Signature Collection, Elite series, and Merit series. Its highest models, the Signature Collection heat pumps, have been awarded as Energy Star Most Efficient Heat Pump for two years in a row (2012 and 2013). Perhaps, it’s because they are compatible with the company’s SunSource technology that can significantly cut down users’ electricity bill by adding sun power to the mix. Another impressive feat is their heat pumps are one of the least noise-emitting units. Its intensity ranges from 60 to 73 dB. As for the Warranty, the compressors are backed for 10 years while the heat exchangers are covered for 20 years.