Top 10 Air Heat Pumps: Costs, Pros & Cons, ROI – Buying Guide

We’ve selected the 10 best air heat pumps in three performance categories to give you the information needed to make your buying decision.

This air source heat pump buying guide includes costs for each model, features, pros and cons, and the use that gives the best return on investment for each.

Air Heat Pump Options

Size and efficiency vary significantly, producing a wide cost range as a result.

Size or capacity to move heat: 1.5 tons to 5.0 tons, or 18,000 to 60,000 BTUs per hour.

Efficiency: 13 SEER cooling efficiency and 8.0 HSPF heating efficiency to 24 SEER and 13 HSPF. The higher the rating, the more efficient the unit.

Installed cost range: $4,500 to $13,500

Average cost: A 3-ton, 17 SEER two-stage central heat pump is right about average, and the installed cost is $7,500 to $10,500 based on brand and installation complexities. Expect to pay about $9,000 for a complete system with the capability, especially if you choose one of the top heat pumps available.

There are cheaper brands like Goodman and Payne, but you might not get the long-term quality and performance you’re here to find.

Cost factors are explored below. They’ll allow you to narrow down your potential heat pump installation cost based on the units you’re considering.

What is an Air Source Heat Pump?

Simply put, an air heat pump, or air source heat exchange pump moves heat from one place to another. It does not create heat. A heat pump collects heat from the outside air when heating your home. It dumps heat from your house into outside air when air conditioning your home. That seems obvious – but the contrast is to a ground source heat pump, also called a geothermal heat pump.

Cold Climate Air Source Heat Pumps Can Provide Heat in Temperatures as low as -13 Fahrenheit

Ground source heat pumps collect and dump heat underground, or sometimes in a body of water, where year-round temperatures are consistent. This makes geothermal heat pumps more efficient – it is easier to collect heat for warming your home in ground that is 55 to 60 degrees than from air that is much colder.

Likewise, dumping heat into ground or water in that temperature range is easier than dispersing it into air that is 80 to 100+ degrees. However, geothermal heat pumps cost much more and might not be a cost-effective choice for your situation.

When to Choose an Air Source Heat Pump

They are an excellent fit for most climates, though they make less sense for locations where winters are very cold.

When winter temperatures drop into the 30s or lower, auxiliary electric heat strips in the air handler assist with heating.

However, electric heat is the most expensive type, so overall efficiency is lost, and energy costs rise when the heat strips are used a lot. For this reason, heat pumps are not best sellers in the colder, northern regions of North America.

Dual fuel systems with a heat pump and gas furnace are an option in very cold climates. They’re explained in the Top Air Source Heat Pump Reviews below.

Top 10 Air Heat Pumps

We’ve selected 3 single-stage, 4 two-stage and 3 variable capacity heat pumps for the list. They’re sorted accordingly below where you will find full heat pump reviews for these top 10 models including cost, pros and cons, ROI based on your climate and more details.

  1. Trane XL16i Heat Pump
  2. Carrier 25HCC5 Performance 15 Heat Pump
  3. Ducane 4HP15L Heat Pump
  4. Lennox XP21 Heat Pump
  5. Armstrong 4SHP16LS Heat Pump
  6. Carrier 25HNB6 Infinity 16 Heat Pump
  7. Rheem Classic Series RP16 Heat Pump
  8. Carrier 25VNA4 Infinity 24 Heat Pump
  9. Lennox XP25 Heat Pump
  10. Trane XV20i Variable Speed Heat Pump

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2021 Central Heating and Cooling Installation Prices for Homes

The cost of a new heating and air conditioning system varies widely. This guide covers all the details including Low, High, and Average costs, plus the important details about installation and accessories.

Most homeowners spend between $6,500 and $9,700 for a standard central HVAC system that includes either a central air conditioner and furnace combination or a heat pump and air handler, not including the installation of new ductwork.

For an installed central heating and cooling system, you can expect to pay about $4,200 on the low end and more than $14,500 for premium equipment and installation.

Let’s dig into the numbers. The first table covers complete systems. Tables below provide more cost detail and comparison to other heating and air conditioning options.

Standard Split HVAC System Costs:

Low end Average High end
$4,200 to $6,300 $6,500 to $9,700 $10,300 to $14,900

* The above costs include system components, refrigerant line set and refrigerant, plenum, if needed, new thermostat and miscellaneous installation supplies.

* The cost of equipment, liability insurance, worker’s compensation insurance and travel, contractor’s overhead expenses, plus fair profit are included.

Central heating and cooling cost table

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Heat Pump Prices in 2021: Heat Exchange Pump Installation Costs

This buying guide will help you decide whether an air exchange heat pump is the right heating and cooling option for your home. Let’s start with the bottom line: heat pump unit prices and the cost of installation.

Trane 14 SEER Package Heat Pump Installed by American Cooling And Heating


The national average cost to install a new air heat exchange pump can range between $4,500 and $8,300, depending on the size of your home, heat pump brand, type, and efficiency level, overall project complexity, and your home’s location.

For a larger, mid-range ductless heat pump mini-split system with 4+ multi-zone air handler units for four+ rooms, it will cost between $9,000 and $14,000 fully installed, as shown in the pricing breakdown example below:

  • 1 outdoor heat pump: $3,000 to $5,000
  • 4 indoor air handlers: $3,000 to $4,000
  • Professional installation: $3,000 to $5,000

Did you know? Air source heat pump split systems include a heat pump and an air handler or a gas furnace and an evaporator coil. Here are the potential equipment and installation costs to expect:

Heat pump unit costs: Here are the three cost tiers based on efficiency and performance, factors explored in detail below:

  • Basic heat pumps: $1,250-$2,500
  • Better heat pumps: $1,850-$3,000
  • Best heat pumps: $2,750-$4,800

Air handler unit costs: Split system heat pumps are usually paired with an air handler, but many work with a gas furnace, too. Here are the current air handler costs in two basic grades:

  • Basic air handlers and coil: $550-$1,000
  • Better air handlers and coil: $800-$1,750

Professional Installation Costs:

Your total cost installed will depend on the size of the unit, since the larger it is, the more refrigerant is needed. The overall complexity of the installation and whether an air handler is also being installed will significantly impact the total cost.

  • Heat pump installation, no air handler: $1,200-$2,000
  • Heat pump and air handler installation: $2,000-$3,500

Pro Tip: Make sure your contractor gets a building permit from the local building department to install your new heat pump. The permit includes a mechanical inspection to ensure the unit is properly installed.

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