People often ask us about heat pumps, usually something along the lines of “what the hell is a heat pump, and what does a heat pump installation cost?” The short answer is that a heat pump is an air conditioner that can run in reverse in order to heat your home as well as cool it. As for heat pump installation prices…I’ll defer to my favorite answer: it depends. But since “it depends” never seems to work for my daughter - or for our readers - today I will do my best to breakdown what it costs to install a heat pump, some basic features, as well as the pros and cons of owning a heat pump. Those who have read our articles know that we started out as a small, U.S. Veteran-Owned heating and air conditioning company, and built our reputation on giving straight answers…this article will be no different. We have no horse in this race, so in this article we’ll give you the 101 crash course on heat pumps, their pros and cons, and finally, we’ll break down heat pump installation costs.
Heat Pump Installation Cost 101 – What’s a Heat Pump?
Before we talk about heat pump installation costs, let’s take a second to make sure we are all on the same page about what a heat pump actually is. After all, why buy a heat pump if you don't need one?
A heat pump - if we were to simplify the idea to the most basic level - is just an air conditioner that has the ability to run in reverse as well, thus heating your home instead of cooling it.
Simply put, a heat pump works by taking heat from the outside air, and pumping it into your home…hence, heat pump.
A heat pump works by reversing the flow of its refrigerant by means of a reversing valve, allowing it to either heat or cool your home (although not at the same time). This technology - as you might have guessed - is reflected in the heat pump installation cost…but the price difference is not as bad as you might think. I digress; more on that later. For now, the first question to ask yourself shouldn't be what's a fair heat pump installation price, but should instead be, is a heat pump right for you?
So, let’s discuss the pros and cons of buying a heat pump. For those of you that are huge nerds and want to learn more about heat pumps and how they work, try: Furnace vs Heat Pump Installation - What’s the Difference?
Also try these articles:
- What's a Heat Pump? Heat Pumps Explained
- At What Temperature Does a Heat Pump Stop Being Effective?
- Top 10 Heat Pump Brands - Which is the Best Heat Pump Brand?
- What Size AC is Right for My House?
Heat Pump Installation Cost - The Pros and Cons
There are a few pros and cons that you need to keep in mind when you considder purchasing a heat pump, some of which will definitely affect your heat pump installation price. Let’s take a look at a few of the pros and cons of installing a heat pump:
Pros of Heat Pump Installation
- No Propane or Natural Gas Required. Do you live in a rural area, or in some other place that doesn’t have access to natural gas or propane? This is the number one reason most people buy a heat pump…it runs on electricity for both heating and air conditioning modes of operation.
- No Furnace or Boiler Required. It might seem obvious, but although heat pumps can be expensive, realize that you are only purchasing one unit…a heat pump. Not an air conditioner plus a boiler or furnace. This can seriously affect your heat pump installation cost.
Cons of Heat Pump Installation
- Heat Pumps Can Be Expensive to Run. Your heat pump installation price is only one part of the equation. Remember that you will be paying to maintain and operate your heat pump, and heat pumps run on electricity; expensive. Essentially, it’s like running your air conditioner year round!
- Heat Pumps Don’t Work Well Below 32-degrees Fahrenheit. Because a heat pump works by exchanging heat with the outside air, it has trouble taking heat from outside of your home when it’s really cold. That’s because there isn't that much heat to take; it's cold! As such, your heat pump would need supplemental electrical heat strips installed (kind of like a hair dryer) for when it gets really cold. But you need to understand that this can increase your heat pump installation cost. Because of this, heat pumps are most typically seen in tropical and sub-tropical climates.
Here are a few other factors to considder that might affect your heat pump installation price:
Factors That Affect Heat Pump Installation Cost
Before we dive into heat pump prices, it’s important understand the factors that affect your heat pump installation cost. Besides, if you were really here just to learn about heat pump prices, then you would have skipped this section in its entirety. Yes…this section is for you in-depth readers who like to savor every grammatically incorrect sentence...and for that, I thank you, California public school system...here are a few factors that affect heat pump installation costs:
- House Size Affects Heat Pump Installation Cost. Are you putting a 1.5-ton heat pump on your home, or three, 5-ton units for your 6,000 sq/ft. mansion? Housing size can seriously affect your heat pump installation cost.
- Time of Year Affects Heat Pump Installation Prices. Despite what you might read on some of the jack-of-all-trade sites, when you buy your new heat pump is almost as important as which heat pump you buy (if not more). That’s because contractors increase prices in the busy season, and have sales in the off season to keep their guys busy. I won’t belabor the point; if you want more, try this article: Best Time of Year to Buy a Heat Pump or Air Conditioner.
- Brand of Equipment Affects Heat Pump Installation Cost. Are you purchasing a Goodman heat pump (also see: Goodman Heat Pump Review), or a Lennox heat pump? A Lennox will be a lot more expensive, but that doesn’t necessarily mean that it's better…
- The Contractor You Choose Affects Heat Pump Installation Price. Choosing the right contractor is important. Don't get ripped off! I won’t belabor this point. Just do your research…the program we used below can help you get a fair price.
Heat Pump Installation Prices
Ahhh! The moment none of you have been waiting for (since you all scrolled straight down here…yes…I know there is that one-percent of you who did your homework, and I’m proud of you!)…the list of heat pump installation prices. We’ve discussed some of the main factors that affect heat pump installation cost, so this section is going to be pretty straight-to-the-point. If you’re confused, then it’s because you didn’t read the sections above...tsk tsk (shaking head)!
Don't Overpay: A Brief Disclaimer About Heat Pump Installation Cost
Look, we can’t possibly list every single unit and its price on here as it would be over 1,000 units! But we do have a program for that if you’re getting close to buying. It includes specific unit prices, sizing information, recommended SEER values, and more. Here’s a short video…click below for more details:
Again, if you're interested in specific prices, for a specific unit, you should definitely take a look at the online consultation program. But for those of you who are still in the “I’m looking but I just don’t know” phase of buying, here are a few randomly-chosen units which span the range of heat pump installation prices:
Dave Lennox Signature Series, 25-SEER, Variable-Capacity Heat Pump
So, for the first example unit we selected, we went with the Dave Lennox Signature Series, 25-SEER, Variable-Capacity…top-of-the-line, bells, whistles, costs a first-born child, powered by Ferrari and driven by Sebastian Vettel himself (no, not really…come on) heat pump to see just what the maximum heat pump installation cost could be. We plugged Dallas, Texas into our program for this pricing example:
Lennox 25-SEER Heat Pump (Equipment Only): $5,843.45
Lennox 25-SEER Heat Pump Installation Cost (including installation, labor, and all fees, etc.; NO ductwork though): $12,709.27
Ok, ok…yes this is the Ferrari of heat pumps, but if nothing else, it should show you the absolute maximum heat pump installation price. Did I mention it was plated in 18 carat gold…?
Get Real: Goodman 14-SEER, Single-Stage Heat Pump
Let’s do a more real-world example so we can get a better idea of what a fair heat pump installation cost should be. I picked Goodman for this example because they have a good reputation, and decent customer service. I also kept all other variables the same…it’s Texas, etc…I’m sure my high school physics teacher would find something to ding me on (Hi Mr. Devoe!), but for the purposes of this article, all other variables were controlled:
Goodman 14-SEER Heat Pump (Equipment Only): $1,095.17
Goodman 14-SEER Heat Pump Installation Cost (including installation, labor, and all fees, etc.; NO ductwork): $6,959.68
I know what you’re thinking…”But Tim…! How did it cost seven times the price of the unit itself to install this heat pump?” The short answer: because all of the other variables, materials, and labor costs remain pretty much the same, regardless of which brand or unit that you choose. It still takes the same amount of time to install the unit, and the same amount of materials, gas, insurance, etcetera, to install a Goodman as it does a Lennox...but the Goodman costs a lot less.
Final Thoughts on Heat Pump Installation Cost
Hopefully this article helped answers some questions on how much a heat pump installation cost should be, and what you should look for. Just remember that there are a few key variables that determine what your heat pump installation price will be, so go for a reliable (but not too pricey) brand, pick a reputable contractor, and you should be just fine. For more articles on heat pump installation costs - and other topics - visit our HVAC blog. When it comes time to talk to contractors, make sure you know what a fair price is...click below for more information on how: