Best Heat Pumps: 2018
Updated: June 29, 2018
We have collected thousands of reviews from homeowners and contractors, and we track more than 500 different series of heat pumps, sold under 74 different brand names. Which heat pumps do our reviewers rate most highly?
The list below represents the top-rated heat pumps sold in the US and Canada. The list includes units with a cooling efficiency ranging from 15 to more than 23 SEER. The units also vary in heating efficiency from 8.5 - 13 HSPF.
|Rank||Brand and Series||Rating||Cooling Efficiency
|Sound Rating (decibels)||Average Pricing|
|10.||Amana ASZ16||3 out of 5||up to 16||9.0||as low as 72||not available|
|The Amana ASZ16 heat pump was designed with energy savings in mind with features such as the high-efficiency Scroll compressor and copper tubing on the "enhanced" aluminum fin coil. The SmartShift feature keeps the defrost mode quiet, while a sound control top ensures the unit operates as noiselessly as possible.|
|9.||Carrier Infinity||3.05 out of 5||up to 20.5||13||as low as 58||$8,000 installed|
|The Infinity series is compatible with Carrier's Hybrid Heat system, which increases efficiency by gauging the outside air temperature and deciding whether it's more efficient to use the electric heat pump or another heat source, such as a gas furnace. All sizes and models of the Infinity heat pump have earned the Energy Star qualification.|
|8.||Trane XR15||3.2 out of 5||up to 16||9.5||as low as 75||$6,150 (installed)|
|The XR15 heat pump from Trane features the company's Climatuff compressor and Spine Fin coil to ensure the unit's durability and reach Energy Star qualifications when installed as part of a qualifying system. The unit is protected by weather-resistant components and louvered panels around all sides and has a corrosion-resistant DuraTuff basepan.|
|7.||Goodman DSZC18||3.25 out of 5||up to 18||9.5||72 - 75||$2,586|
|Goodman's DSZC18 heat pump features a two-stage UltraTech Copeland scroll compressor with short-cycle protection. The unit is compatible with Goodman’s ComfortNet Communications System, which monitors the system and allows contractors to accurately troubleshoot problems. A high-density foam compressor sound cover, an efficient fan motor, and a wire fan discharge grille help provide quiet operation.|
|6.||York LX||3.3 out of 5||up to 16||9||as low as 69||$1,984|
|The York LX heat pump features a compact design which increases installation flexibility. The unit's compressor is protected by high and low pressure switches and a liquid line filter drier, and a swept wing fan design, rigid top panel and isolator mounted compressor help keep sound levels low.|
|5.||Coleman Echelon||3.7 out of 5||up to 20||11||as low as 69||not available|
|Coleman's Echelon is an Energy Star rated heat pump, with the HC20 model earning the Energy Star Most Efficient 2018 label. It features the Echelon Residential Communicating Control, which allows the system to be controlled remotely, and with the WhisperDrive comfort system, which uses a swept wing fan and composite base to silence vibrations.|
|4.||Coleman LX||4.1 out of 5||up to 16||9||as low as 76||not available|
|The Coleman LX is Energy Star qualified in select models and features a single-stage scroll compressor. A high pressure relief valve and a filter drier help protect the compressor, while a swept wing fan blade, rigid top panel, and sound blanket help lower operating noise.|
|3.||York Affinity YZH||4.2 out of 5||up to 18||10||as low as 68||$5,300|
|The York Affinity YZH is a two-stage heat pump with powder-coat paint finish to protect against corrosion, and relatively low operating noise. It was recognized as an Energy Star Most Efficient product of 2015.|
|2.||Comfortmaker Performance||4.5 out of 5||up to 15||8.5||as low as 69||not available|
|The Comfortmaker Performance is a single-stage heat pump featuring high and low pressure switches and a filter drier for system protections. It is dual-fuel capable with a compatible furnace and thermostat. A galvanized steel cabinet with baked-on powder coat finish protects the unit from weather hazards.|
|1.||Lennox XP25||5 out of 5||up to 23.5||10.2||as low as 58||not available|
|The Lennox XP25 is a variable capacity heat pump which maintains set temperatures within half a degree. It is dual-fuel capable when installed with a compatible furnace and is solar ready. The XP25 has earned the Energy Star Most Efficient 2018 label.|
SEER and HSPF: What Do They Mean?
You’ll find these abbreviations attached to any heat pump consider purchasing. The short version is that SEER is a measure of how efficiently the unit cools, and HSPF is a measure of how efficiently the unit heats.
SEER (Seasonal Energy Efficiency Ratio) and HSPF (Heating Season Performance Factor) help to determine how efficient a specific heat pump is at generating heat or cold air. For heat pumps sold in the United States SEER can range between 13 and 26, whereas HSPF is commonly between 7.7 and 10, but can range as high as 13.
You’ll want to pick a pump that is balanced for your living situation and environment. While normally these values rise evenly alongside each other, having a higher value in whichever form of air flow you will be using more frequently (either heating or cooling) is important to make sure you’re getting the most out of your heat pump.
For example, if you live in an area with mild summers and cold winters, you may want to have a unit with an HSPF rated above the minimum standard value, 7.7, to allow for your home to heat more efficiently, since you’ll be heating your home more often than you’ll be cooling it. You might select a lower-than-average SEER, however, since cooling efficiency will likely be less important.
The efficiency rating of a given product is highly dependant on the compressor installed in it.
What Do Compressors Do?
The compressor is the primary component of a heat pump, allowing for heat to be drawn out of or released into the air surrounding the indoor or outdoor units. If you have ever wondered why a heat pump can provide a unit of heat for a third or a quarter of the electricity required to generate that heat through an electric furnace, it's because of the compressor's ability to transport heat from one location to another.
There are a variety of factors to be considered when selecting a compressor:
Single-stage vs. two-stage compressors: Single-stage compressors can only move heat at a single rate, constantly pumping at the same frequency regardless of your needs. Two-stage compressors, on the other hand, allow a hardware controller to modulate the speed at which the pump runs. Due to this, two-stage compressors are more efficient and more cost-effective in the long-term, though they will have a slightly more expensive upfront cost.
Variable speed (modulating) compressors: modulating compressors improve on a two-stage compressor's ability to run at low or high speed by creating many incremental steps that the compressor can cycle through to increase or decrease output.
Evaporators and fans: The evaporator or "A" coil resides within the indoor unit and is remove any heat absorbed from the air, whereas fans help to pull heat across the evaporator.
How Loud Can It Get?
If poorly designed, a heat pump can create as much noise as a vacuum cleaner, even when you are in a neighboring room, resulting in an uncomfortable humming in the background as you go about your day-to-day activities.
There are a few features that can affect this, thus reducing the decibel level (dB) to a more comfortable volume:
- Modular speed compressor: Due to the ability to better adjust the speed of your compressor, modulating compressors tend to reduce the average amount of noise.
- Insulation: The chambers in which compressors reside can be insulated, further reducing any noise they might create when operating.
- Forward-swept fan blades: By having fan blades that work with the flow of air versus against it, the lack of wind resistance makes for a quieter experience.
- Mufflers: Some heat pumps have attachments on the compressor discharge lines to reduce the vibration and accompanying noise that a device makes.
On average, a heat pump creates between 50 and 80 dB of sound.
Optional Heat Pump Features
Like any large appliance, you can configure heat pumps with a variety of optional features. Some options include:
- Hot water generation: While there are heat pump water heaters whose only purpose is to provide residential hot water, some central heat pumps will allow you to use excess heat to pre-heat the water in a traditional tank-style water heater.
- Salt spray coatings: These coatings are applied to the outdoor compressor to reduce corrosion salt sea spray.
- Auxiliary heat: Typical air source heat pumps (as opposed to cold climate heat pumps) can't efficiently pull heat from the air below about 40° F. When the temperature dips below those levels heat pumps typically activate electric resistance heat strips in the air handler. As the air handler pulls air across the heat strips, the air temperature increases, and is then distributed throughout your home.
Package Systems vs Split Systems
There are two different manners in which heat pumps are manufactured and sold, each with their own strengths and weaknesses.
Residential single-family heat pumps are almost always installed as split systems. The condenser and compressor -- traditionally the loudest components -- are installed outdoors. The evaporator and air handler are installed indoors. Given that both the indoor and outdoor parts of split system have to be installed separately, there are more opportunities for contractors to make mistakes.
Package systems combine both the indoor elements of a heat pump (the air handler and evaporator coil) with the outdoor elements (the condenser and compressor) in a single package. These units are then typically installed on the roofs of commercial buildings. The package system is assembled in a factory, with much of the production work helping to ensure that the unit is properly wired and works well. Additionally, since some of the temperamental elements, like the refrigerant, are installed in a controlled space, there is less room for error during installation.
That being said, the components that are typically indoors are now stored outdoors, meaning that additional components are at risk due to harsh weather conditions or small animals that get access from the outdoors.
Heat Pumps and Cold Climates
When used in colder areas (and particularly when used at temperatures that approach freezing) heat pumps become less efficient. That's because it takes an increasing amount of work to extract heat from cold air than from warm air.
One alternative is a so-called "dual-fuel" system. When the outdoor temperatures are mild, the heat pump provides the heating. When temperatures get cold, the system will switch over to a gas or oil furnace to provide more efficient heat.
Some questions that you should ask yourself before buying from a particular heating contractor are:
- What are the SEER and HSPF ratings?
- How long does the warranty of these units last?
- What sort of labor warranty is the installing contractor offering?
- What features do these heat pumps have that others don’t?
- How much noise will the unit make?
- Do I have an auxiliary or backup heating option that's appropriate for my climate?
- How expensive will the heat pump, installation, and any maintenance cost in total?
Consumers and homeowners have submitted thousands of reviews to this site. In addition to reviewing a particular model of equipment, the reviewer also assigns a rating from 1 ("Very Unsatisfied") to 5 ("Very Satisfied"). The following list ranks the top 10 heat pumps from lowest to highest rank, based on the average of those consumer satisfaction ratings.
We have only included a series on this list if we have at least 5 reviews of that series, and if the series has not been discontinued. If we only have a few reviews, there is a risk that a single homeowner will skew the average rating too far in one direction or another.
The pricing information comes from two sources: vendors that sell heat pumps directly, and homeowners that have received quotes to have heat pumps installed.
In general, we prefer to quote prices from vendors. This allows homeowners to understand roughly how much of a contractor's quote is for equipment and how much is for labor. However, many distributors do not publish prices publicly, which makes it difficult to display accurate pricing.
Our second source of pricing information -- quotes by contractors to homeowners -- can still give homeowners a good sense of average pricing. However, the price range in quotes tends to be larger. Some homes need ductwork installed; others need both a heat pump and an air handler installed; some contractors charge a higher overhead; there are many potential reasons for the variance.
The sound rating is measured in decibels and provided by the manufacturer. The lower the number of decibels, the quieter the unit. In most cases, the sound rating is presented as a range, or "as low as" a number of decibels. This is because (typically) the more BTUs / hour of output a unit generates, the louder it is. In addition, a heat pump is part of a heating and cooling system, and the unit must be paired with a quiet air handler to perform most quietly.