Most Efficient Central Air Heat Pumps 2023: Best Brands and Models

Heat pump technology offers several advantages over traditional air conditioners, resistance heaters, and combustion furnaces.

XV18 Variable Speed heat pump

In cooling mode, heat pumps offer the same efficiency as the best air conditioners on the market.

In heating mode, heat pumps are 2-4 times more efficient than resistance heaters, and they can match the operating cost of gas heaters without the associated CO2 emissions from combustion.

A central heat pump can achieve even greater energy savings if you combine it with a solar panel system, so that the energy consumption can be offset by solar power generation. This is not a combination you can achieve with traditional furnaces since you cannot offset fuel consumption (whether it be natural gas, propane, or oil) with electricity generation.

If you’re looking for a central heat pump that offers high efficiency and top performance, the best starting point is the ENERGY STAR Most Efficient List.

In this buying guide, we will review some of the best heat pump models that are featured on the Energy Star Most Efficient list, and the typical operating costs you can expect when using them.

Average Cost To Install a Heat Pump? Typical Range: $6,430 - $12,470
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Top 10 Heat Pumps (Air Source) for 2023: Costs, Unit Pros & Cons

This buying guide starts with a list of the best heat pumps updated for 2023 – these are air source, split system heat pumps rather than ductless mini split heat pumps.

Our price list followed by full product reviews gives you, the homeowner, the details you need to make an informed buying decision.

The guide concludes with an explanation of the differences between heat pumps and air conditioners, followed by a brief FAQ section.

The Best Air Source Heat Pumps

  1. Trane XV18
  2. Carrier Infinity 24
  3. Lennox XP25
  4. Carrier Infinity 18VS
  5. Payne 16 PH16NA
  6. Coleman HC19
  7. Trane XL18i
  8. Coleman CH6
  9. Heil Ion 16
  10. Armstrong Air 4SHP16LE

Where are Bryant, American Standard? Goodman?

Well, Bryant and Carrier are identical brands, so where you see Carrier, think Bryant too. And ditto for Trane and American Standard. The models from the identical brands are identified in the full reviews below.

Goodman? The brand has a huge market share. And it offers decent quality – about middle of the pack overall – with warranties that are above-average.

But what concerns us, and should concern homeowners, is the installation of Goodman equipment. “Anyone” with an HVAC and refrigerant license can install a Goodman.

There isn’t the same quality control as you get with the top brands on this list. And hiring an inexperienced or poor-quality contractor can lead to choosing the wrong size equipment and faulty installation. If done right – great. But the results, if mistakes are made, are poor efficiency, performance, and reliability.

Comparison of Complete Installation Costs

These are installed prices. Unit size for most is 2 tons to 5 tons; the equivalent in BTUs is 24,000 to 60,000. A few of the models are available in a 1.5-ton, 18,000 BTU size.

The full package: These heat pumps are sold in a package that includes the equipment and installation labor.

Equipment includes the condensing unit, or outdoor unit, indoor coil installed in an air handler (typical) or furnace (dual fuel), refrigerant and all installation supplies. A pad for the condensing unit is an option.

Here is the heat pump price list. We’ve broken it down by the heat pump-only, if that’s all you’re replacing, and the Full System if you’re buying the heat pump and an air handler.

Model Heat Pump Only Full System Performance
Trane XV18 $7,500 – $12,500 $13,500 – $18,250 Variable
Carrier Infinity 24 $7,900 – $12,750 $13,750 – $18,500 Variable
Lennox XP25 $7,950 – $13,500 $13,900 – $18,900 Variable
Carrier Infinity 18VS $7,000 – $11,950 $12,950 – $17,500 5-stage
Payne 16 $5,900 – $10,750 $11,850 – $16,750 2-stage
Coleman HC19 $6,150 – $11,500 $12,400 – $17,550 2-stage
Trane LX18i $6,500 – $11,750 $12,400 – $17,500 2-stage
Coleman CH6 $5,700 – $10,500 $11,550 – $16,500 1-stage
Heil Ion 16 $5,850 – $11,000 $11,700 – $17,000 1-stage
Armstrong Air 4SHP16LE $6,100 – $11,500 $11,800 – $17,250 1-stage

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Central Air Heat Pump Cost – The Ultimate Buying Guide

We’re all aware that prices are significantly higher now than just a few years ago – and increases have been felt in the air conditioning and heating industry more than in most others.

Central heating and cooling residential heat pump

So, this guide gives you a “heads up” about pricing information you’ll hear when you get local estimates. And it will help you choose a heat pump efficiency range that makes the best sense for return on investment.

What’s the focus – Heat pump costs

A heat pump is the outdoor unit, which is technically called a condensing unit. For a full system, you’ll also need an indoor air handler and coil, refrigerant lineset and potentially a refrigerant charge. A lot of home and property owners upgrade their thermostat too. – Those “extras” are covered briefly, but the emphasis is on the outdoor unit for those just replacing that part of the system.

Either way you go – heat pump only or full system – you’ll have accurate, fresh pricing to work with as you discuss your project with heat pump contractors.

Central Heat Pump Cost Installed

Nearly every brand makes basic, better, and best tiers of heat pumps. Trane, for example, makes basic XR models, midrange XL heat pumps and premium XV models. For Carrier, it is Comfort, Performance, and the top-of-the-line Infinity.

SEER and Stages are explained below for those unfamiliar with the terms:

Equipment $ With Installation SEER Stages
$3,100 – $7,200 $5,150 – $10,100 13 – 17 1
$4,950 – $9,600 $7,200 – $13,400 16 – 19 1 or 2
$6,700 – $13,150 $9,300 – $15,500 18 – 24 2 or Variable

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