Heat pumps can be an excellent option for traditional furnaces and air conditioners. They work best in milder climates and could be a perfect way to save on heating and cooling costs. Use this as a guide as you look for the best heat pump brand and model that suits your needs.
Before we can start discussing which heat pumps are the best, we need to understand what a heat pump is.
How Does A Heat Pump Work?
In very simplistic terms, a heat pump is a refrigeration device that transfers energy (heat) from one area to another. The refrigerant is typically contained within a closed-loop system, drawing and releasing heat as it travels from the heat pump (outside) to the air handler unit (inside).
In The Summer.
Don’t let the name fool you; a heat pump can cool a home in the summer and heat a house in the winter. In the summer, it removes excess heat inside and displaces that warm air outside.
In The Winter.
In winter, the reverse is true. The heat pump will take heat from the air (or some other source, such as the ground) outside and deliver it inside to warm your home. Effectively all it’s doing is moving warm air from one location to another.
The best part? Moving heat from one location to another requires very little energy, which gives heat pumps a unique advantage over other cooling and heating technologies – the ability to heat or cool a home while expending very little energy.
They’re able to move energy so efficiently because energy, in this case, heat, flows downhill. The basic laws of physics state that heat will always move from a warmer environment to a cooler environment.
Types Of Heat Pumps
There are three main types of heat pumps; air source, split ductless, and geothermal.
Air-source heat pumps are the most commonly installed heat pumps. They have two parts: an indoor (air handler) and an outdoor (heat pump) unit.
Split-ductless heat pumps have two units: an outdoor compressor and one to four indoor air handlers.
You can also have pumps that draw heat from the earth, which are called geothermal heat pumps.
The Best Heat Pump Brands
You should have a better understanding of how heat pumps work and the different types of heat pumps. Now the fun begins, trying to sort through which the best heat pump brand to choose, which model to select, how to correctly size a heat pump. And the most important, how to select a qualified contractor.
Without making dozens of calls to qualified technicians, it’s nearly impossible to get a handle on the price, quality, and warranties for each unit. This doesn’t even account for the fact that different technicians will have different incentives to install one unit over another.
Trane Heat Pumps
Trane has a tradition of quality lasting more than a century. They offer high performance, excellent reliability, and superior energy-efficient heat pump. Trane is the most highly rated heat pump brand for new and replacement heating and cooling systems.
Trane covers each of its products with a limited 20-year warranty on parts. You can even obtain an optional extended warranty. All these warranty options surely take Trane way ahead of their competition in the best heat pump.
Trane heat pumps come in three different series: XV, XL, and XR series.
Trane XV TruComfort™ Variable Speed systems maintain a consistent temperature with maximum efficiency by automatically making minor, continuous adjustments in output all day long, all night long. By using its precise 750 incremental stages, the result is efficient, affordable and reliable comfort, like you have never seen before. Installed as part of a qualifying system, most models are ENERGY STAR® qualified.
Trane XV heat pump models are available with cooling efficiencies up to 21 SEER and 10 HSPF.
The Two-stage heat pump prevent temperature swings, while providing superior efficiency. Trane XL series heat pump is potentially ENERGY STAR® qualified when installed as part of a matched Trane system.
You may have noticed the entire XL lineup has an “i” tacked onto the back end. The Trane models with the “i” have a couple of differences. The “i” series is always more expensive for a similar SEER rating. It comes with a longer warranty, and the condensing unit’s cabinetry is a little bit larger and features a unique top designed to keep debris out.
The lower tier in Trane’s heat pump model. Features with the Climatuff® compressor and patented, leak-and- corrosion-resistant Spine Fin™ coil in the XR series deliver years of trouble-free comfort.
Trane Heat Pumps Models and Specifications
Carrier has been around since 1902 and is one of the most trusted heat pump brands by consumers. All of their units are air-source heat pumps.
Carrier carries everything heating and cooling related from boilers to furnaces and of course heat pumps. Their lineup consists of three series: Infinity, Performance, and Comfort.
Carrier Infinity series heat pump is part of an intelligent, communicating system that delivers superior comfort, quiet performance and enviable efficiency in both heating and cooling modes. This product has been designed and manufactured to meet Energy Star criteria for energy efficiency when matched with appropriate coil components.
The performance series in the middle of the road option is available from Carrier. They offer quiet comfort and superior control of humidity, heating, cooling, and temperature. Carrier performance series heat pumps offer that perfect balance between budget limits and your desire for saving energy long-term.
Carrier Comfort Series Heat Pumps are the most affordable model, which is also the least efficient. The Comfort Series units all use single-stage scroll compressors and have excellent cold-weather performance.
Carrier Heat Pumps Models
|Infinity 25VNA4||Variable||Up to 24||13||51|
|Infinity 25VNA0||Variable||Up to 20.5||13||58|
|Infinity 25VNA8||Five-stage||Up to 19||11||55|
|Infinity 25HNB6||Two-stage||Up to 17||9.5||67|
|Performance 25HCB6||Two-stage||Up to 17||9.5||70|
|Performance 25HCC5||Single-stage||Up to 16||9||68|
|Performance 25HHA4||Single-stage||Up to 14||8.2||69|
|Performance 25HPB6||Single-stage||Up to 16||9.5||67|
|Comfort 25HBC5||Single-stage||Up to 15||8.5||69|
|Comfort 25HCE4||Single-stage||Up to 14||8.2||69|
Carrier VS Bryant
Carrier carries the same heat pumps that Bryant does. Carrier Corporation is the parent company, while Bryant is one of the brands under it. Their heat pump units are 99% identical except for the logo.
American standard offers three base heat pump models. They’ve done a nice job branding each of these in a manner that makes it relatively easy for a consumer to understand.
American Standard Platinum Series
The Platinum line is the top-of-the-line heat pump they offer. They boast a maximum Seasonal Energy Efficiency Ratio (SEER) of 20 and a Heating Season Performance Factor (HSPF) of 10. As you ramp up the SEER rating, you’re also going to ramp up the prices.
American Standard Gold Series
American Standard Gold models give similar qualities, though you’ll typically choose between comfort and energy efficiency.
American Standard Silver Series
The Silver series is among the cheapest models manufactured by American Standard.
American Standard Heat Pump Models
|AccuComfort Platinum 20||Variable||20|
|AccuComfort Platinum 19||Variable||19|
|AccuComfort Platinum 18||Variable||18|
York Heat Pumps
York has been building and designing heating and cooling devices for 135 years. They began with an ice machine and slowly expanded their expertise. They’re now owned by Johnson Controls – a Fortune 100 company.
They have three different series and seven heat pumps in total.
The Affinity lineup only features two heat pumps; the York Affinity YZH (18 SEER) and the York Affinity YZF (16 SEER). Unlike the other large heat pump brands, the top-of-the-line units only go up to 18 instead of 20+. It’s fairly rare for homeowners to spec out a 20+ SEER heat pump because generally, the heat pump will never pay itself off.
The LX Series has three models; the YHJF (SEER 14.5), YHJD (SEER 13), YHJR (SEER 13).
The Latitude model is the “builder grade,” which essentially means they’re inexpensive. It features two models, the THGF (14.5 SEER) and THGD (13 SEER).
Lennox Heat Pumps
Dave Lennox was a pioneer in the heating and cooling industry. He built the first steel furnace, which revolutionized home comfort. Today they’re among the leaders in the heating and cooling industry – at the time of writing this, their XP 25 Heat Pump is the world’s most efficient (based on SEER ratings).
They feature lines of pumps; Dave Lennox’s Signature Series, Elite Series, and Merit Series.
Dave Lennox’s Signature Series
The Lennox Signature Series comes in three models; XP25 (23.5 SEER), XP21 (19.2 SEER), and XP17 (SEER 17.7). All three models are equipped to be integrated with solar panels. There will be those who scoff at the idea, and the truth is because the technology is relatively new, it’s a tough sell.
However, the Sun Source heat pump and solar panel units can make you eligible for tax credits. This, of course, depends on where you live.
For most installing a good system and having it sized properly and then taking the extra steps to ensure your house is efficient would probably make more sense than installing solar panels. Of course, you don’t need to integrate the Signature Series with solar panels; it’s just one option.
The Elite series is the middle of the road, and it features 3 models; the XP 16 (SEER 16.5), the XP 14 (SEER 16.5), and the XP 13 (SEER 14.5)
You may have noticed that the XP 16 and the XP 14 have the exact same SEER and HSPF rating. Yet the 16 is louder, and it’s more expensive. What gives? The main difference between the two units is the XP 16 is a two-stage which means you could use it for zoning.
Lennox’s builder-grade is the Merit Series. Often, the only difference between the middle of the road series and the low-end series is their warranty and dB levels. In this case, the components inside of the Merit series differ from those found in the Elite Series.
Rheem & Ruud
Although it’s common for one parent company to own two brands, the units rarely are the same. Sure there is normally a lot of overlap between the American Standard and Trane Heat pumps, and the same could be said for Rheem and Ruud. That said, the only difference between Rheem VS Ruud is the nameplate, the unit name, and the guy who comes and installs it.
The last one is particularly important – installation is the most critical part of any heat pump job. Rheem & Ruud offers four lines of heat pumps; the Prestige Series (Ultra Series), Prestige Series Single Stage (Ultra), Classic Series (Achiever), and the Value Series.
The Prestige Series
With the prestige line, you can choose between either a single-stage or a two-stage heat pump. If you’re trying to decide between a two-stage and a single-stage, it’s important to do your research. A two-stage, in theory, should save you energy because the system doesn’t need to start and stop.
You need to keep in mind that a two-stage will always be the more expensive option, and it’s not uncommon for contractors to try and up-sell like crazy even if it’s not necessarily the best option for the homeowner.
Both units in the Classic series are single-stage heat pumps.
The Value Series is both Rheem’s and Ruud’s lowest grade heat pump.
Choosing The Best Heat Pump
So far, we’ve discussed what a heat pump is, the types of heat pumps, how heat pumps work, and the leading heat pump brands or manufacturers.
I’m going to let you in on a secret, every single one of the heat pump brands I featured above is a good reputable heat pump brands. There are no worst heat pump brands to avoid in my dictionary.
You may be wondering, why do I see so many negative reviews online, and when I talk to my friends, I’ve heard horror story after horror story? It’s simple – the installation isn’t done correctly.
The best heat pump is the one that fits your budget (within reason), is sized correctly, installed by a certified HVAC contractor, is efficient, is suited to the environment, and contains at least a 5-year warranty.
Fits Your Budget
Heat pumps were once largely neglected as an inefficient way to heat and cool a home. Due to a surge in technology, heat pump prices have dropped considerably and have regained favor as a popular heating and cooling unit.
That said, the upfront costs are still considerable. Expect to pay a minimum of $2000 for a low-end unit and up to $8,000 for a high-end unit.
Don’t be suckered into buying the most efficient heat pump – it has to make sense. By doing some simple cost-saving calculations, you can calculate whether or not a heat pump will pay for itself throughout its life.
This one is a bit of a no-brainer. The best heat pump for your needs is the one that is efficient and not just energy-efficient but also cost-efficient.
If you’re living in sub-freezing temperatures, a hybrid system may make sense. If you’re in a relatively moderate climate and your heating and cooling bills are pretty reasonable, to begin with, a less efficient system might be the ticket. More isn’t always better – there is a fine balance between cost and efficiency.
The single other important factor in ensuring you’re getting the most out of your heat pump is that it’s correctly sized. Contractors tend to oversize the system (I’m generalizing here, apologies for that). If your system is oversized, you’re likely to run into humidity issues, not to mention the system will be more expensive.
Tip: If a contractor isn’t willing to perform a manual J calculation, find someone that will. When you’re shelling out five or six thousand dollars, you deserve a contractor who will ensure they’re sizing the system correctly. Don’t let them get away with using a quick rule of thumb. Rule of thumbs is for hacks.
Heat pump sizing doesn’t end there; the ductwork needs to be sized appropriately for the heat pump. If you have too much airflow running through undersized ducts, you’re going to end up with some loud ductwork.
The entire system has to be considered (which is why HVAC is so complicated) when you’re installing a heat pump. What does the ductwork look like, is the ventilation sufficient, and what about the air handler unit?
Installed By A Certified HVAC Technician
Listen, I own many rental properties, and I am the king of DIY or hire off of Kijiji. I’ve found that do-it-yourself works out about 90% of the time for me. The problem? 100% of the time, it takes a lot more time than I originally expected. And the 10% of the time it doesn’t work out usually involves electrical or mechanical.
I don’t like the distribution system in HVAC, where only certain HVAC technicians can install certain units. That said, because they’re such complicated devices, it’s probably for the best.
You can start with this handy map which can help you identify some contractors in your area. I would start with at least 4 quotes. You’ll probably find one of the contractor’s systems is not like the others (grossly oversized). Once you’ve got some quotes, do your research. Ask for references, read the forums, look them up on the BBB.
If the contractors seem to be all over the place, ask for advice on our free HVAC Quotes – you can usually find some straight answers over there. Take your time and make sure you get this step right.
Tip: More expensive isn’t always better but looking for a contractor who is 2/3 the price of the other three guys might not be advisable either. This is a long-term investment – treat it as such.
Has At Least A Five Year Warranty
Every major brand offers at least a five-year warranty on its low-end units. Most of them will offer a 10-year warranty which is probably what you should be looking for.
Heat Pump Prices
While we aim to give you a general idea of pricing (so you don’t get ripped off!), heat pump prices will vary from city to city.
Please keep in mind these are ballpark numbers. They only serve to provide a comparison between the units – in other words, heat pump A should be cheaper than heat pump B, all other things equal.
The heat pump units themselves will be fairly consistent in terms of how much they cost, but most installers aren’t going to break out the unit’s true cost for you. They may show you the labor costs and the heat pump itself, but it’s going to be very difficult to tell if they are padding their unit cost to cover some of their labor.
Aside from doing your research, the most important thing you can and should do is get lots of quotes.
Heat Pump Comparison Table & Pricing
|American Standard||Silver 15||$6,400-8,600||16 SEER/9.5 HSPF|
|Silver 16||$6,800-9,600||17 SEER/9.6 HSPF|
|Gold 17||$8,400-11,600||17.25 SEER/9.6 HSPF|
|Platinum 20||$10,400-14,600||20 SEER|
|Trane||XR15||$6,400-8,600||16 SEER/9.5 HSPF|
|Trane XL18i||$9,200-12,800||18 SEER/9.5 HSPF|
|Trane XV19||19.5 SEER/12 HSPF|
|Trane XV20i||$11,400 – 16,000||20 SEER/10HSPF|
|Carrier||COMFORT 15||$9,400-12,600||16 SEER/9 HSPF|
|PERFORMANCE 16||$11,400-14,600||16.5 SEER/9.5 HSPF|
|INFINITY 19||$12,400-15,600||19.5 SEER/9.5 HSPF|
|York||YZF – Affinity Series||$5,400-8,600||16 SEER|
|YZF – Affinity Series||$7,400-9,600||20 SEER|
|Lennox||Lennox XP25||$15,400-19,600||23.5 SEER/10 HSPF|
|Rheem||Prestige Series – RP20||$8,400-10,600||20 SEER/11 HSPF|
|Classic Plus Series – RP17||$6,400-8,600||18 SEER/8 HSPF|
Average Heat Pump Costs by Type
|Heat Pump Type||Unit Cost||Installation Cost|
|Air-Source||$2,000 – $5,500||$1,000 – $2,000|
|Geothermal||$3,000 – $6,000||$10,000 – $30,000|
|Ductless Mini-Split||$1,000 – $3,500||$500 – $1,250|
|Gas-Fired Heat Pump||$3,000 – $6,000||$1,250 – $2,000|
Heat Pump can help keep your home warm in the colder months. The right heat pump brand will fit into your home and have all of the features you need to achieve optimal comfort. Use thie above information as a guide as you buy for the brand and model that best suits your needs.