Last updated on 23.5.2022
As you research, compare options, and work with a contractor on the design of your air source heat pump system, they will help you customize it for your property. Which solution is best for your home or business depends on the systems you have in place, the size of the space and your long-term heating and cooling needs.
Questions to ask yourself when comparing air source heat pump options
Air to water heat pump systems offer various setup and equipment options. You must answer the following questions before you can make a final decision about your installation, which a qualified HVAC contractor or plumber can assist you with:
- Will you be using air source heat pumps as the sole heating and/or cooling source?
- Do you want a system with or without channels?
- Would you like to heat an entire building or a single room?
- Do you want a split or boxed system?
- For Cold Climates: Will a traditional system suffice for your needs or should you look into a cold climate system?
- For cold climates: Would you like to keep an auxiliary heating option on top of your heat pumps?
Ducted vs. ductless air source heat pump systems
Air source heat pumps can distribute air for heating and cooling throughout a building, either via ducts or via individual wall-mounted units, also known as mini-splits.
Both ducted and ductless air source heat pump systems require an outdoor unit that is located outside of your home. The biggest difference between the two is that a ducted system uses ducts within the walls of your home, while a ductless system does not. In a duct system, the outdoor unit is connected to an indoor unit that moves the warm or cool air through your ducts and around your building. The air exits through the vents that your ducts are connected to. Ductless systems, on the other hand, have individual indoor units placed in a room. Also known as mini-splits and often referred to as 'heads', these units are directly connected to the outdoor unit(s) via refrigerant lines that transfer and push the warm or cool air into the room.
When a ducted air source heat pump might be right for you
You should consider a duct heat pump system if:
- You already have existing ducts in your house that you can use for heat pumps. However, in some cases you may need to make upgrades to your ductwork or electrical system during the installation process to ensure the heat pump distributes air efficiently.
- You value the aesthetics of individual units on the wall, so prefer not to have mini-gaps visible in your living space. (This is becoming less of an issue as heat pump manufacturers continue to develop new low-profile heads.)
When a ductless air source heat pump could be right for you
You may want to consider a channelless mini split if:
- You have no existing channels. A ducted system takes longer to install and costs more than a ductless system. Ductless systems have fewer design requirements and tend to be less expensive than ducted systems.
- You have a smaller living space for heating and cooling.
Short term air source heat pump systems
Another option that's sort of a hybrid between the two is a short-term or mini-duct system. This type of installation involves ductwork, but it only runs through specific parts of the home and not through a central duct system. Then you can install ductless units anywhere in your building where the existing ducts are not used for heating and cooling.
Single zone vs. multi-zone heat pump systems
A single zone air source heat pump system is only intended to heat a small space, typically one room. Single zone systems have an outdoor unit connected to an indoor header to heat or cool the area.
If a one zone system might work for you
Single zone heat pump systems are the right choice when you only want to heat or cool a small area of your home. A common use of a single zone system is to heat or cool a newly constructed addition to your home while the rest of the home is running on central air conditioning. You can install multiple single zone systems, but if you want to heat or cool many rooms with air source heat pumps, it is more efficient to install a multi-zone system.
When a multi-zone system might be right for you
A multi-zone heat pump system can heat and cool multiple areas of a home using multiple heads in different areas, all connected to a single outdoor condenser. By installing a multi-zone system, you can simultaneously heat or cool different "zones" within your property to different temperatures. For example, during the hot summer months, you can set the temperature of the room you spend most of your time in to a lower temperature, while other zones are set to a higher temperature to reduce your overall energy consumption.
Split vs Packed Air Source Heat Pump Systems
Many heat pump systems today are split, meaning they have two coils: one inside and one outside. The coils of an air source heat pump system are the component that actually heats or cools the air. Split systems come in both ducted and ductless systems.
In comparison, in a compact heat pump system, coils and fans are located on the outdoor unit, while heated or cooled air is distributed throughout the house via ducts. Packed systems tend to be less efficient than split systems, but installation is typically less labor intensive (and therefore less expensive) than split systems. Boxed systems also take up less space overall and may be worth considering if you have a home with limited space available.
Conventional vs. heat pump equipment for cold climates
It wasn't too long ago that you might hear someone say that heat pumps can't work efficiently in cold climates. However, in recent years, cold climate air source heat pumps have improved and are designed to be more efficient for heating homes in colder regions such as New England or the Midwest. Cold climate air source heat pumps can be either ducted or ductless, single zone or multi-zone, but to be considered a “cold climate” system they must meet certain efficiency criteria. More efficient air source heat pumps tend to be more expensive upfront.
Comparison of other HVAC systems with air source heat pumps
If your existing heating or cooling system is aging or not working properly, taking a look at air source heat pumps can help you heat and cool your home more efficiently. Here are some ways that heat pumps hold their own against other HVAC options:
Electrical resistance heating (skirting board heating)
Air source heat pumps use electricity more efficiently for heating than baseboard heaters, resulting in an average annual electricity saving of $459 in the Northeast and Mid-Atlantic compared to electric resistance systems. In addition, with individual air source heat pump units in your home, you can set different temperatures in different rooms or zones in your home.
natural gas heating
You can use air source pumps for a quieter, cleaner, and healthier option compared to natural gas. Fewer emissions help you improve air quality, and less noise can increase comfort when heating and cooling your home. Zone temperature control also helps you heat more efficiently and usually saves money too.
Heating oil or propane gas
Some of the biggest savings are possible when comparing air source heat pumps to oil or propane heaters, with homeowners in the Northeast saving an average of $948 annually by replacing an oil system with heat pumps. As compared to natural gas, air source heat pumps are also quieter and ensure lower emissions and better air quality. Convenience is another benefit touted over oil heaters, as you don't have to schedule fuel deliveries or worry about oil price freezes.
When it comes to cooling, air source heat pumps offer many advantages over traditional air conditioning (A/C) systems. Heat pumps cool more efficiently and allow you to cool specific areas in zones, so you don't have to worry about cooling rooms where you don't spend as much time during the day. If you choose a ductless air source heat pump system, the installation is much less intrusive than the extensive ductwork that central air conditioning systems require. Heat pumps are also often more convenient as they dehumidify the air better and more efficiently than air conditioners.
window air conditioners
Because air source heat pumps cool your home more efficiently than window air conditioners, you pay less on your electricity bill every summer. There is also an added convenience factor as you don't have to take out air source heat pumps in the cold months and have to reinstall them every spring or summer. Window air conditioners are also noisier and can contribute to air leaks through the windows you have them installed on.
Evaluation of different air source heat pump technologies
Once you have decided what type of air source heat pump installation you are going to proceed with, you need to choose the equipment you will be using. There are three ratings and certifications to help you make your decision:
- SEER evaluates how efficiently an air source heat pump cools a room.
- HSPF evaluates how efficiently an air source heat pump works in heating mode.
- ENERGY STAR is a government rating given to high-efficiency equipment that meets certain standards.
The Seasonal Energy Efficiency Rating (SEER) evaluates a system's cooling efficiency, making a high SEER rating particularly important in warmer climates. Federal regulations require a minimum of 13 SEER for homes in the Pacific Northwest, Northeast, Midwest, and Mountain states. For households in warmer parts of the country, the SEER requirement will be raised to 14. Generally, the higher the SEER, the more expensive the system, but if you live in a particularly warm climate it may be worth paying for a system that's more efficient for your own comfort.
The Heating Seasonal Performance Factor (HSPF) assesses the heating efficiency of a system, making it the equivalent of SEER in cold climates. If your property is in a colder climate, you should look for a system with a higher HSPF. An HSPF rating of 7.7 is required by federal law for all air source heat pumps.
Air source heat pumps with an ENERGY STAR label are certified by the Department of Energy as being above average in efficiency, making them the best choice for saving energy (and therefore saving on your utility bills). ENERGY STAR level air source heat pumps have high SEER and HSPF ratings. To earn an ENERGY STAR label, an air source heat pump must have a SEER greater than 15 and an HSPF greater than 8.2 for single pack systems and 8.5 for split systems.
Which air source heat pump is best? ›
- Best overall: Samsung EHS Monobloc.
- Most efficient: Hitachi Yutaki.
- Most powerful: Vaillant flexoTHERM 400V + aroCOLLECT.
- Best for cold climates: Daikin Altherma.
- Best for small homes: Nibe F2040.
- Best for combining other sources: Calorex.
- Best for scalability: Danfoss.
There are two types of air source heat pumps: monobloc and split systems. A monobloc system has all the components in a single outdoor unit, with pipes carrying water to the central heating system and a hot water cylinder inside your home. A split system separates the components between indoor and outdoor units.Which brand of heat pump is the most reliable? ›
- Goodman. Goodman is a well-known brand in the HVAC industry and provides great energy-efficient heating and cooling solutions for homes large and small. ...
- Carrier. ...
- Ruud. ...
- Trane. ...
- Rheem. ...
- Lennox. ...
- Bryant. ...
- American Standard.
High-efficiency heat pumps: Generally speaking, models rated at 17 SEER2 and above should be considered highly efficient heat pumps. Some of the highest efficiency air-source heat pumps are rated at up to 22 SEER2.Which is the quietest air source heat pump? ›
Heat pumps are a popular alternative to boilers as a way to heat homes but can also be distractingly noisy – except these ones, of course. Quiet Mark Accredited heat pumps include the Grant Aerona³ R32 Air Source, also noted for its efficiency, the Warmflow Zeno and the Vaillant aroTHERM Plus.What are the disadvantages of an air source heat pump? ›
- Lower Heat Supply than Boilers. ...
- Extra Spending to Install Underfloor Heating. ...
- Your Home Must Be Well-Insulated Already. ...
- Lower Efficiency Below 0°C. ...
- Lower Savings Compared to Low Price Mains Gas. ...
- ASHPs Can Be Noisy.
Improper maintenance of your heat pump could lead to a 25 per cent increase in your energy bills. Blocked and dirty filters reduce the amount of airflow that can pass through the system and may harm performance. It's also worth checking the fan regularly to ensure there isn't any debris, such as leaves, stuck in it.What size heat pump do I need for 2000 sq ft home? ›
If you Google “heat pump calculator,” you'll probably find a rule of thumb like this: “You need 30 BTUs of heat for every square foot of living space you want to heat or cool.” If you have a 2,000-square-foot home, this rule of thumb suggests you need a 60,000 BTU heat pump.Which heat pump lasts the longest? ›
A dual-source pump usually lasts the longest out of all three kinds. Heat pumps are more efficient than air conditioners because they both heat and cool your home; there is no need to install a heating and a cooling system.What is the major problem of heat pump? ›
A clogged air filter is a common cause behind a heat pump not working, as the system doesn't receive adequate airflow due to this obstruction. The system often overheats and shuts down, leaving you without cooling. Or, not enough cooling makes it into your home due to the restriction.
Is 16 SEER worth the extra money? ›
Benefits of a Higher SEER Rating
A rating above 16 SEER is associated with lower energy consumption, which translates to less money spent on energy costs. Replacing an 8 SEER AC or heat pump unit with a 16 SEER one may save you up to 50 percent on your energy bill.
A 16 SEER unit is about 13% more efficient than a 14 SEER. For every $100 you spend to cool your home with a 14 SEER, you could save $13 on your monthly bill by upgrading to the 16 SEER unit.Should I go with a 13 SEER or 16 SEER? ›
Here's what we recommend to Portland homeowners: In terms of energy savings, there's not much difference between a 13-SEER and 16-SEER AC in our area. However, if you can afford the slightly higher upfront cost, we recommend choosing a 16-SEER AC because it provides better comfort.What temperature is a heat pump not effective? ›
Heat pumps do not operate as efficiently when temperatures drop to between 25 and 40 degrees Fahrenheit for most systems. A heat pump works best when the temperature is above 40. Once outdoor temperatures drop to 40 degrees, heat pumps start losing efficiency, and they consume more energy to do their jobs.Which heat pump works best in cold weather? ›
Based on our research, the best cold climate heat pump is Mitsubishi's Hyper-Heating, or H2i. Listed as Mitsubishi's M-Series or P-Series for home installation, these heat pumps maintain their full heating capacity down to 5F, and can produce useful heat down to -13F.What is the best location for an air source heat pump? ›
Almost always, we would recommend positioning the unit on the floor immediately outside your house or property. This has two large benefits: first, it reduces the amount of pipework you need in order for your air source heat pump to fully cater to your property, avoiding increased unnecessary heat loss.Do air source heat pumps work in winter? ›
Contrary to popular belief, air-source heat pumps work amazingly well in winter—even in very cold climates. In fact, heat pumps are now the best heating option just about everywhere on the planet.How noisy is an air source heat pump? ›
Are heat pumps noisy? Answer: All heating products make some noise, but heat pumps are usually quieter than fossil fuel boilers. A ground source heat pump may reach 42 decibels, and an air source heat pump may reach 40 to 60 decibels, but this depends on manufacturer and installation.Do air source heat pumps reduce energy bills? ›
A properly installed air source or ground source heat pump is more efficient than a gas boiler, which could save you money on your heating bills. Heat pumps are around 3-4 times more efficient than boilers, because they give out a lot more heat than the electricity they use to run.What is the most effective HVAC system? ›
For heating your home, the most energy efficient HVAC systems currently available are heat pumps (both geothermal and air source) and furnaces. Heat pumps are also a very efficient way to cool your home. For the summer, your most efficient cooling system will be either a heat pump or an air conditioner.
What is the most common residential HVAC system? ›
Standard Split Systems
The standard split system, with one component outside and one inside, remains the most popular residential HVAC system today.
Like hybrid cars, hybrid heating systems cost more than their conventional counterparts. They promise long-term savings by reducing your monthly energy expenditures. Best estimates suggest that a hybrid heating system can save a homeowner between 30 and 50 percent in energy costs over the course of a year.Is it cheaper to leave heat pump on all day? ›
While heat pumps are the most cost effective way to use electricity to heat your home during the cooler months, leaving them running day and night is not economically efficient. According to Energywise, you should switch off your heat pump when you don't need it. This is to avoid excessive energy waste.Is it cheaper to leave heat pump on all night? ›
Heat pumps operate most efficiently when holding a steady temperature. Turning a heat pump down when you're away or asleep may actually use more energy than leaving it on. The reason is that it has to work harder to come back to the desired temperature than it does to maintain it.Does an air source heat pump add value? ›
So, heat pumps won't add value to your property and could even make it more difficult to sell. Energy-efficient boilers and solar panels offer more promising alternatives. Research by Safe Store estimates that an A+++ boiler will increase the value of a home by 1.9%.What is the latest heat pump technology? ›
Researchers from the University of Glasgow have developed a new type of heat pump, a flexible heat pump technology, which could help households save on their energy bills and contribute towards net-zero emissions goals.What is the difference between a 1 stage and 2 stage heat pump? ›
A single stage-compressor only lets the heat pump cool/heat at full blast. A two-stage compressor allows the heat pump to cool or heat at different levels: High (full blast) and low for milder days. OK, so what's the big deal about two-stage? Well two-stage heat pumps run more often, while using less energy.What is the new type of heat pump? ›
A new type of air source heat pump developed by researchers at the University of Glasgow could perform more efficiently in cold conditions. Around 40% of carbon emissions come from heating powered by fossil fuels.Is it better to oversize or undersize a heat pump? ›
If a heat pump is undersized for a room, the negative effects can become quite obvious, fast. It's simply not going to adequately heat or cool the room it's in, and it will certainly work harder than it should in order to do so. Naturally, this can lead to a host of mechanical problems over time.How many square feet will a 3 ton heat pump cool? ›
While 3-ton heat pumps are not necessarily heavier than smaller-capacity pumps, they will likely cost more to buy and install. A quality 3-ton heat pump can effectively heat or cool an average area of 1,500 square feet but will be too large for smaller spaces.
How many square feet will a 24000 BTU heat pump heat? ›
A 24,000 BTU system will generally heat and cool a space that is around 1,500 sq. ft. However, this number will vary based on a few other factors. The other factors include the following: the climate zone, the number of windows and the quality of insulation.What is the best air source heat pump for cold climates? ›
Based on our research, the best cold climate heat pump is Mitsubishi's Hyper-Heating, or H2i. Listed as Mitsubishi's M-Series or P-Series for home installation, these heat pumps maintain their full heating capacity down to 5F, and can produce useful heat down to -13F.Which heat pumps last the longest? ›
A dual-source pump usually lasts the longest out of all three kinds. Heat pumps are more efficient than air conditioners because they both heat and cool your home; there is no need to install a heating and a cooling system.Are air source heat pumps any good in winter? ›
Contrary to popular belief, air-source heat pumps work amazingly well in winter—even in very cold climates. In fact, heat pumps are now the best heating option just about everywhere on the planet.At what temperature do heat pumps become ineffective? ›
Heat pumps do not operate as efficiently when temperatures drop to between 25 and 40 degrees Fahrenheit for most systems. A heat pump works best when the temperature is above 40. Once outdoor temperatures drop to 40 degrees, heat pumps start losing efficiency, and they consume more energy to do their jobs.