Heat Pump Buyers GuideDespite people thinking heat pumps are for heating only, which is not true, heat pumps are a great way to heat and cool your home in the winter and the summer. A split system heat pump can efficiently heat and cool your house when the temperatures outside are not so pleasant. Heat pumps use the process of refrigeration to move heat. A heat pump is both an air conditioner and heating system combined.

This buying guide will help you when deciding to buy. Heat pumps make wonderful home heating and cooling systems for many people. Heat pump efficiency offers great efficiency for heating efficiency and cooling efficiency in the air conditioner mode.

In the summer, it will move heat outside. In the winter, despite the air being cold, it will absorb heat and move it inside. In this article, we will breakdown all the various types of home heat pump systems and efficiency ranges. We’ll help you decide if a heat pump is right for you and guide you to purchasing a heat pump for your home or business.

Familiarize yourself with HSPF and SEER when considering the purchase of a heat pump. We’ll describe more below, but is it the way a heat pump is rated for energy efficiency for the heating side of the heat pump. You want good heating efficiency and cooling efficiency to give you overall home heating seasonal performance and cooling performance.

Heat Pump Buying Guide

Heat Pump Energy Efficiency

Heat pumps come with two specific energy efficiency ratings. One is for the cooling mode, and the other is for the heat mode. The cooling mode will offer an efficiency rating with a SEER rating or Seasonal Energy Efficiency Ratio. While the heating side will provide the efficiency rating in HSPF or Heating Season Performance Factor for heat pumps.

While the operation of a heat pump in heating or cooling mode is nearly identical, there are differences in how one provides cooling, and the other includes heating. Thus the reason for the different types of ratings.

Heat pumps can be very efficient air conditioning and heating systems and give you excellent energy efficiency for your home. However, before spending a lot of money buying the most suitable model heat pump, consider upgrading the weatherproofing of your home first. You can get a heat pump that will both heat and cool your home that has both high SEER rating and a heating seasonal performance factor rating that is very high.

The job of that HVAC system is to remove heat in the summer and add heat in the winter. If your home is leaking air through doors, windows, and other areas, the new system will not be as efficient. That also applies to old ductwork. Don’t overlook these parts when buying a new heat pump system. Next, we’ll cover types of heat pumps you can purchase. For our Heat Pump Buyers Guide, we’ll list them below.

Types of Heat Pumps

Split System Heat Pumps

Split System Heat Pump

Split System heat pumps are quite typical for many heat pump systems. An example of a split system heat pump includes an air handler that is separated from the heat pump condenser. E.G., an air handler in the basement or attic and the heat pump condenser outside. The two separate parts of the split system are connected via a line set and control wire.

The air handler can also be a gas furnace in a dual-fuel heat pump set up. Most air handlers will have electric heat strips for backup heat, but for more efficient heat, a gas furnace can be used to provide the backup heat. To have a dual-duel heat pump with a gas furnace for your home, you also need a source of gas, whether it be propane or natural gas.

Heat Pump Package Unit

Cooling systems and gas furnaces can be combined into one single package. So can heat pumps. These are referred to as heat pump package systems. These are cooling systems and a heating system, all combined in one package. It also houses the air handler for the heating and cooling heat pump package system. Most of the time, a package unit is specified when there is limited room inside the home or structure. These package systems do not offer efficient heat or air conditioning as a split system or other types of heat pumps we describe here.

Mini-Split Ductless Heat Pumps

Heat Pump Mini-Split Condensers

Mini-split ductless heat pumps can offer you a very high HSPF and SEER for both heating and cooling depending on the type of system you purchase for your home. Of course, this applies to all the heat pump system types mentioned here, but mini-splits can be considered a very high-efficiency option if ductwork is not a concern for you. Invertor duty mini-split heat pumps offer you the highest efficiency for any type of home heating and cooling system.

Geothermal Heat Pump Systems

Geothermal heat pump systems are generally the most expensive types of heat pumps to install and have special requirements. You need either a lot of land around your home or some good wells with a decent water table to install a geothermal heat pump system. Again, this type of heat pump provides both heating and cooling for your home. Make sure you check out these requirements before deciding on this type of heat pump system.

Buying Guide Considerations

As noted above, energy efficiency is a significant factor in anyone’s decision to buy a heat pump. However, there are some other factors for heat pumps you need to consider. Energy costs for air conditioning and heating systems are approximately 50% of your home energy budget.

In the summer, the cooling system consumes a lot of energy, and in the winter, the heating systems consume a big part of your energy budget. Make sure to follow the guidelines for weatherproofing your home and make sure the duct system is good before buying a heating and cooling system. Here are some additional factors to consider:

Additional Tips and Questions to Ask
  1. Contractor - The installation contractor. Heat pumps need to be installed by a qualified contractor. Many times, the installation of air conditioners and heat pumps the contractor gets something wrong or cuts corners. A credible contractor will install the system correctly and offer a good warranty. Make sure to vet the installation contractor before signing any contract including for heat pumps.
  2. Sizing Requirements - For an air conditioner or heat pump, sizing the system is very important. The installation contractor should provide a Manual J calculation. If they do not, I will not sign the contract. It will affect the efficiency mentioned for both heating and cooling.
  3. Noise - What are the rated decibel levels for the new system. This data should be provided to you in the product literature before buying. Don’t make the mistake of buying a new system that will cause you frustration throughout the life of the system because of noise.
  4. Geographical Location versus Balance Point - Balance point for a heat pump is when, in the winter, reaches its point at which it starts falling behind because the outdoor temperature has dropped below a specific point. That is the point at which the system begins falling behind. Then you can expect to begin using the backup heat source. The contractor should know more about this, and it is different for each type of heat pump. Make sure to ask this question before signing the contract.

HVAC Equipment Warranties

Warranties are essential, and the most basic warranty from any manufacturer will tell you how they feel about the quality of their equipment. A manufacturer that believes in their equipment will have good, qualified, and well-trained contractors and offer a basic warranty that will cover the equipment for a decent term. It is also important that you understand the warranty before signing the contract.

What many people do not realize when buying new HVAC equipment is that most warranties only cover parts and not labor. Another mistake people make when buying new HVAC equipment is not registering the warranty with the time frame after installation that the manufacturer requires. I know many people would rather watch grass grow or paint dry, but it is important to read the warranty and comply with all conditions in the warranty.

Conclusion

There are many factors to consider when buying a new heat pump system. If you do it right, you can enjoy many years of owning your heat pump. Making efficiency one of the considerations will also help in the long run by reducing energy bills. We all know lowering utility bills and saving energy is a good thing for everyone, including your budget. We hope our Buyers Guide helps you in your purchase of a new HVAC system.

Frequently Asked Questions

How Much Does a Heat Pump Cost? What price can I expect to pay for a heat pump?

HighPerformanceHVAC.com does not give out pricing for HVAC equipment simply because every customer has different requirements as well as contractors. You can call 10 different contractors for an estimate and you will get 10 different prices. HVAC equipment pricing will vary widely depending on:

  • the amount of work needed to be done by the contractor
  • do you need new ductwork or old ductwork repaired
  • local and regional regulations and codes
  • the heat pump brand or manufacturer
  • the capacity or size of the system you purchase
What is the best brand of heat pump to buy?

This is a question that requires an opinion. It is like asking ten people what is the best brand of car to buy? Everyone will likely give you different answers. Therefore, HighPerformanceHVAC.com recommends you go with the best contractor. The reason for this is because a new heat pump system that will be efficient and reliable will require expert installation. Workmanship and skill is important especially when installing a new HVAC system. You can purchase the best of the best rated HVAC system but if it is not installed properly the system will not function as designed and it will to be efficient or reliable. In this case, choosing a good contractor is the best advice we can give you.

Additionally, different contractors use different brands. A good contractor that sells brand A is going to stand by that product. They are familiar with it and know the pluses and minuses of the equipment including its limitations. A good contractor will always be honest with their customers upfront about everything. Always get at least three estimates from different contractors that you vetted. Therefore, it is always contractor over brand.

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