Heat Pump Reviews and Prices 2021

Trane heat pump system
Trane 20 seer heat pump system

This heat pump guide is a comprehensive collection of answers home owners may ask when shopping for a new heat pump system:

  • How much does a heat pump cost?

My HVAC Price will take a deep dive into heat pump cost by brand, location and what labor factors will cause a heat pump installation cost to change.

  • What are the best heat pump brands to buy in 2021?

We will take an independent look into all major heat pump brands, and rank them by reliability, cost and life expectancy.

  • What heat pump options matter and why? 

My HVAC Price will define heat pump options, and when upgrading to more options matter.

Table of Contents

Heat Pump Brands and Cost Factors

There are many factors that influence the price of a new heat pump, and for the average consumer its hard to understand why the same size unit may vary in price significantly.  Continue reading as we explain what factors influenece the price of a new heat pump.

Quality

brands of heat pump vary by quality

Much like every consumer product made today, products are separated by classes of quality.  The quality of the materials used and where the units are manufactured has a large impact on the price and cost.  Central heat pump systems are no different.  We have broken down the quality of heat pump systems in a 3 different ranges to help you compare quality. This breakdown is purely based on the quality of the construction and materials. These classes do not factor in the quality of the installation.

  • Economy Heat Pump Brands:  Lowest cost, shortest lifespan expectation (less than 13 years): Airtemp, Day & Night, Payne, Aircoaire, ComfortMaker, Coleman and Ducane.
  • Standard Heat Pump Brands: Middle of the road pricing, average lifespan expectation (13-16 years): Ruud, Rheem, York, Goodman, Amana, Luxaire, Nordyne, Bryant, Run-Tru and Ameristar.
  • Premium Heat Pump Brands: Highest price, superior quality, longest lifespan expectation (15-20 years): Trane, Carrier, Lennox and American Standard

Compressor Technology

How a heat pump compressor works

The compressor motor inside a heat pump is the “heart” that pumps refrigerant thru the refrigerant circuit. There are three different styles of compressor technologies that directly effect the efficiency (operating cost), as well as the cost to purchase and install a heat pump.  All of the premium heat pump brands and most of the standard branded heat pumps offer a tiered line of heat pumps which use all of these technologies.

  • Single Stage Heat Pump Compressor: When a single stage compressor is on they operate at 100% capacity.  On or Off. The main issue with single stage compressors are that they are only sized correctly when the load of the home requires 100% capacity.  Single stage compressors run shorter, but more frequent cycles of operation, which can lead to a short lifespan.  Single stage compressors are the most economical to purchase, but they lack the ability to change output based upon weather conditions.
  • Two-Stage Heat Pump Compressor: Two-Stage compressors have the ability to have a medium and a high output setting.  Typically this ranges from 65-80% of capacity in the first stage, and 100% capacity in the second stage. Popularity of two-stage compressors have declined in the last few years as the cost to upgrade to a variable capacity compressor can be made up in a season or two.
  • Variable Capacity or Invertor Heat Pump Compressor: Variable output compressors have the ability to ramp up and down the capacity needed to heat and cool the home on autopilot. Some models are able to start at 20% capacity and have over 100 different stages.  These compressors are the most energy efficient, quiet and provide the best comfort for homes.  The huge advantage to a variable compressor heat pump is the ability to produce meaningful btu’s of heat at low outdoor ambient temperatures.  This lowers and in some cases eliminates a heat pump system from running on electric resistance heat packs. (emergency heat)

Efficiency

heat pump reviews seer energy savings

When it comes to understanding heat pump efficiency it is important to remember that a heat pump operates in both the heating and cooling season.  Each season has an efficiency metric to rate units on.  These metrics can be used to compare any brand with each other.  Meaning a 14 seer Carrier heat pump will cost you the same as a Goodman 14 seer heat pump to operate in cooling mode.

  • SEER: Seasonal Energy Efficiency Rating The SEER rating of a unit is the cooling output during a typical cooling-season divided by the total electric energy input during the same period. The higher the unit’s SEER rating the more energy efficient it is (lower operating cost). Depending on your location in the United States the ratings start at 13 SEER (northern climate) and 14 SEER for the rest of the United States.  Some manufactures such as Lennox and Carrier have units that can achieve over 23 SEER.  The higher then number, the more efficient and the lower the operating cost.
  • HSPF: Heating Season Performance Factor HSPF is specifically used to measure the efficiency of air source heat pumps. HSPF is defined as the ratio of heat output (measured in BTUs) over the heating season to electricity used. The higher the number the more efficient (lower cost to operate) a heat pump is. Just like SEER, HSPF can be used to compare brand to brand. This is an extremely important metric which is overlooked by many consumers and contractors.

Size or Capacity

The size or capacity (not physical size) of a heat pump will have a dramatic affect on the cost of a heat pump.  In residential heat pumps the sizes include 1.5 Ton (18,000 BTUs), 2.0 Ton (24,000 BTUs), 2.5 Ton (30,000 BTUs), 3 Ton (36,000 BTUs),  3.5 Ton (42,000 BTUs), 4 Ton (48,000 BTUs) and finally 5 Ton (60,000 BTUs).

To size which heat pump is required to heat and cool your home many factors come into play.  The geographical location of your home, square footage of your space, the height of the ceilings, insulation of the home and even the type of windows that your home has.

The last factor to consider is the size of the ductwork inside your home.  Having too small of ductwork in your home for the size of heat pump can greatly effect the performance of your new heat pump significantly, even worse it can lead to costly repairs over time.

What size heat pump do I need?

Heat pump sizing per tonnage by zones map

As you can see from the chart above, different regions of the country require different size heat pumps due to the climate they operate in.  Most contractors will perform a sizing process called a Manual J load calculation.  A Manual J will take into consideration the shading of the home, type of windows and even the grade of insulation of the home to recommend the appropriate size heat pump for your home.

Heat Pump Prices

Contractor Heat Pump Price

Price transparency is a very touchy issue when it comes to the consumer and contractor relationship.  Most contractors are very reluctant to disclose what they actually pay for a heat pump.  This is somewhat of an unfounded fear of being honest with a consumer.  More and more contractors are beginning to shift their mindset towards a more transparent buying experience.  If a contractor is trying to hide how much they pay for a heat pump be cautious, ask yourself what else they maybe trying to hide.

What a contractor actually pays for a heat pump can vary on many factors listed below:

  • Location of the country, whether the contractor buys direct from the manufacture or buys from a 2-step distribution network.
  • How many units the contractor sells.  The more volume a contractor moves the lower they pay for heat pumps.
  • How many years the contractor has been in business. Over time relationships grow between the contractor and distributer.  This can lead to better pricing.
  • Density of contractors selling the same brand.
  • Time of year the equipment was purchased, brands have price increases every single year.  Typically these increases are between 4-10% every single year. 

Contractor Heat Pump Price by Brand

The following section will breakdown by brand what a contractor pays for a heat pump.  These numbers are averages, some contractors will pay more or less.  Remember this is just a box, this does not include installation.

Trane Heat Pump Contractor Prices

ModelEfficiencyCompressor TypeUnit Price
XR-1414 SEERSingle Stage$1100-$2200
XR-1515 SEERSingle Stage$1300-$2400
XR-1616 SEERSingle Stage$1500-$2890
XL16i16 SEERSingle Stage$1890-$3150
XR-1717 SEERTwo-Stage$2100-$3300
XL18i18 SEERTwo-Stage$2350-$3890
XV1818 SEERVariable/Invertor$2590-$4690
XV20i20 SEERVariable/Invertor$2900-$5900

Rheem Heat Pump Contractor Prices

ModelEfficiencyCompressor TypeUnit Price
XR-1414 SEERSingle Stage$1100-$2200
XR-1515 SEERSingle Stage$1300-$2400
XR-1616 SEERSingle Stage$1500-$2890
XL16i16 SEERSingle Stage$1890-$3150
XR-1717 SEERTwo-Stage$2100-$3300
XL18i18 SEERTwo-Stage$2350-$3890
XV1818 SEERVariable/Invertor$2590-$4690
XV20i20 SEERVariable/Invertor$2900-$5900

American Standard Heat Pump Contractor Prices

ModelEfficiencyCompressor TypeUnit Price
XR-1414 SEERSingle Stage$1100-$2200
XR-1515 SEERSingle Stage$1300-$2400
XR-1616 SEERSingle Stage$1500-$2890
XL16i16 SEERSingle Stage$1890-$3150
XR-1717 SEERTwo-Stage$2100-$3300
XL18i18 SEERTwo-Stage$2350-$3890
XV1818 SEERVariable/Invertor$2590-$4690
XV20i20 SEERVariable/Invertor$2900-$5900

Goodman Heat Pump Contractor Prices

ModelEfficiencyCompressor TypeUnit Price
XR-1414 SEERSingle Stage$1100-$2200
XR-1515 SEERSingle Stage$1300-$2400
XR-1616 SEERSingle Stage$1500-$2890
XL16i16 SEERSingle Stage$1890-$3150
XR-1717 SEERTwo-Stage$2100-$3300
XL18i18 SEERTwo-Stage$2350-$3890
XV1818 SEERVariable/Invertor$2590-$4690
XV20i20 SEERVariable/Invertor$2900-$5900

Heat Pump Installation Price

The price to install a new heat pump system can vary greatly from company to company, which can leave anyone shopping for a new heat pump in a daze.  The price to install a new heat pump can even vary between efficiency levels and where the portions of the system are located.  The following section will breakdown the variables that can cause the price to change.

Heat Pump Location

Typically heat pumps are replaced along with a new matching air handler.  The location or access to the indoor air the ultimate ending price.  Here are some examples of heat pump system locations and how they can affect the price.

  • Attic: Additional Cost ($600-$1500): It goes without saying that an attic can be a tough installation area for installers to work in. The installation price will raise based upon the fact that the company will incur more labor hours on the job.  Some companies may even send three installers to help with carrying the new unit into an attic.  Most attic installations should also include extra materials such as an emergency drain pan, automatic float switch, ductwork modifications to fit the new air handler, and even more insulation.
  • Rooftop: Additional Cost ($500-$2500): Rooftop heat pump systems installs can come with not only the added cost of a crane, but most jurisdictions require permits.  Some of these permits can cost the contractor $800-$1500 depending if traffic control is needed.  Typically a contractor must rent a crane to lift the condenser up onto a roof.  Warning, do not use a contractor that offers to hoist or carry a condenser up via a ladder or rope.  This process can damage the coil and cause the oil to run out of the compressor and severely shorten the lifespan of the unit. 
  • Crawlspaces: Additional Cost ($300-$2000) Believe it or not some crawlspaces can be more difficult to install a new heat pump system than an attic.  Along with a emergency drain pan and automatic drain switches which are required, most crawlspace units are hung from supports and this takes more time.  Often times the floor of crawlspaces are rocks or dirt and can really wear an installer down and this makes the job take longer.  

Heat Pump Efficiency and Features

Choosing a high end heat pump system is not only a more expensive product for the contractor, but retrofitting an old outdated system and setting up the controls/features takes longer than a standard or base model.  Below are some of features that higher efficiency units require that can raise the cost of a heat pump installation.

  • Refrigerant Lines: Additional Cost ($350-$1500) Higher efficiency units sometimes require different diameter refrigerant lines than older units.  This is especially true for Invertor or Variable Flow compressors.
  • Control Wiring: Additional Cost ($150-$500) Communicating or Digital heat pump systems send data thru control wiring and most manufactures require one continuous wire. Older homes can have splices of wiring which can lead to communication signal errors which can be a real issue to track down.  We suggest that ALL new communicating systems have new controls wires installed.
  • Surge Protection: Additional Cost ($175-$400) Just like your computer and television in your home are at risk to power surges, the circuit boards inside high tech heat pumps need to be protected.  Voltage regulation is very important for variable frequency drive compressors.
  • Large Screen Smart Thermostats: Additional Cost ($350-$700) Digital communicating heat pump systems operate with large screen smart thermostats.  These thermostats are the brain of the new heat pump system.  All are WiFi enabled and allow for weather adjustments and even can communicate to you or your dealer if there is a problem with the system.  Most report monthly electric consumption and savings attained. 

Have more heat pump questions?

The team at MyHVACPrice would be happy to answer any questions you have! Drop us an email, we will get back to you shortly.