Category Archives: HVAC

2018 Ductless Heating & Cooling Cost: Mini-Split Prices, Pros & Cons

The limits are off for ductless heating and cooling systems, as double-digit growth in installations for six years running demonstrates.

ductless mini-split heating and cooling system

Mini split HVAC systems are no longer just for additions, rooms far from central heating that are too hot or too cold or locations where installing or extending ductwork is impossible.

New technology and competitive costs are behind the growing number of applications including new construction.

This comprehensive ductless heating and cooling guide covers costs, system types, options, features, efficiency, pros and cons and more.

Did you Know?

Ductless mini split outdoor units are now being produced for cold climates. For example, the Fujitsu Halcyon XLTH Extra Low Temp system is an impressive 33 SEER ductless system that provides heating in temperatures as low as -5 degrees Fahrenheit.

Trane’s low-temperature 4MXW38 system offers 38 SEER/15 HSPF efficiency and 100% heating performance to -20F.

Haier America, Samsung, Friedrich and several other brands have introduced cold climate ductless heat pumps. A base pan heater in these outdoor units allows condensate to drain without freezing.

How Much Does It Cost?

Mini split heat pump cost is higher than costs for standard split systems but significantly less than geothermal system costs.

Small, single-zone systems with installation start as low as $1,800. Large, complex systems installed cost as much as $12,500. Here’s average installed costs for three system sizes. There’s more detail in various sections below.

  • Single zone systems: 1 indoor unit (6,000-36,000 BTU): $1,800 to $6,500
  • Average multi-zone systems: 2-4 indoor units (18,000-36,000 BTU total): $5,600-$9,500
  • Large multi-zone systems: 4+ indoor units (up to 60,000 BTU total): $8,250-$14,500

Here’s a quick breakdown of mini split HVAC costs for equipment and installation:

  • Outdoor unit cost: $900 to $5,500 (9K to 60K BTU)
  • Indoor unit cost: $195 to $2,000 (6K to 36K BTU)
  • Accessory package: $225-$1,750
  • Ductless HVAC system installation labor cost: $700 to $4,000

The accessory package may include a line set, drain tubing, wiring, thermostat, remote control, additional refrigerant when indoor units are distant from the outdoor unit, condensate pan heater for cold climates and other equipment required for installation.

Did you Know?

Knowing the technical terms will assist you when researching your options, shopping and discussing the project with an installer. In technical terms, outdoor units are also called condensers.

A condenser contains the compressor that circulates refrigerant and the condensing coil that disperses heat during an AC mode and collects heat in heating mode.

Indoor units are also called air handlers and evaporators, and there are several types (explained in the section of Indoor Unit Types below).

Pro Tip:

You’ll spend less on equipment and installation when you choose one large outdoor unit that supports multiple indoor zones rather than several separate single-zone ductless systems. In a multi-zone system, the climate of each room or zone can be independently controlled for customized comfort.

Mini Split System Cost Factors

Ductless mini split system costs vary widely based on:

  • Whether it is AC-only ($-$$$) or a heat pump ($$-$$$)
  • Cost rises as energy efficiency goes up.
  • Cost rises with the size of the outdoor unit, though again, one outdoor unit costs less than two outdoor units with the same cumulative capacity (1-48,000 BTU unit vs. 2-24,000 BTU units, for example).
  • The number, capacity and type of indoor units (single zone vs. multi-zone)
  • Indoor units with variable-speed fans for better climate control cost 15% to 25% more.
  • The complexity of the installation

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Heat Pump Prices 2017-2018: Air Source Heat Pump Installation Costs

The Ultimate Guide to Air Source Heat Pumps for Homes

Air Sources Heat pumps (ASHPs) are rapidly gaining market share because of their proven efficiency advantage over gas and oil furnaces. Modern high-efficiency air-source heat pump can deliver up to three times more heat energy to a home than the electrical energy it consumes. — This is possible because a heat pump absorbs and moves heat (both heating and cooling are delivered via forced air distribution) rather than converting it from a fuel like combustion heating systems do.

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

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

How Much Does a New Heat Pump Cost?

Heat pump split systems include a heat pump and an air handler or gas furnace and evaporator coil. Here are your potential equipment and installation costs:

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

  • Basic heat pumps: $1,200-$2,100
  • Better heat pumps: $1,850-$2,900
  • Best heat pumps: $2,750-$4,200

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

  • Basic air handlers and coil: $550-$975
  • Better air handlers and coil: $800-$1,750

Heat pump 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 complexity of the installation and whether an air handler is being installed too.

  • Heat pump installation, no air handler: $1,200-$1,700
  • Heat pump and air handler installation: $1,900-$3,200

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

Did you Know?

Heat pumps cost far less to operate than gas furnaces because they are two to three times more efficient.

In fact, the Northeast Energy Efficiency Partnerships found that ASHPs offer a legitimate space heating alternative in the Northeast and Mid-Atlantic regions; when the old heating units are completely replaced, the annual ASHPs savings are around 3,000kWh (or $459) as compared to electric resistant heaters and 6,200kWh (or $948) as compared to oil systems.

When displacing oil (i.e. the oil system remains, but operates less frequently), the average annual savings is near 3,000 kWh (or about $300).

While furnaces burn fossil fuel to create heat, heat pumps heat and cool using electricity to circulate refrigerant.

When heating, the refrigerant captures heat outside and dumps it inside, and it does the opposite when cooling (heat pumps are air conditioners too).

Yes, the electricity used to power a heat pump is often created by burning fossil fuel, but far less energy is required to produce the same amount of heat pump BTUs as furnace BTUs.

While you’ll pay more for a heat pump than you would for a gas furnace, the extra cost can be recouped through lower utility costs in 5-7 years.

Top 6 Reasons to Get a New Heat Pump

It’s possible you’re still considering your options, so here are the top 6 reasons to buy a new heat pump:

  • Repair costs to an existing heat pump are mounting (see Pro Tip below).
  • You’re not moving. The longer you plan to stay in your existing home, the more it makes sense to replace the heat pump rather than pay for even minor repairs. This is especially true if the new unit is significantly more efficient. You’ll start saving on energy costs from the first day of use.
  • Your current heat pump is running, but it’s getting older and has had repair issues. A preemptive decision to replace it before the next summer or winter can prevent you being without AC or heat when you need it most.
  • The old heat pump is losing efficiency with age – it costs more to run, even after having it cleaned and maintained.
  • You want improved energy efficiency and/or indoor comfort.
  • You’re building a home and deciding between a heat pump and a gas furnace.

Pro Tips: When repair costs of an old unit reach 50% of the cost of a new unit, it makes sense to put your money into a new heat pump. This is especially true if your heat pump is 10+ years old or you don’t plan to move soon. Even if you move, a newer heat pump will be more attractive to potential buyers than an old one with a history of repairs.

Also, beware of heat pump technicians that push repair of an older unit. This is a technique sometimes used by unscrupulous contractors. Their goal is to gain your trust, encourage you to pay for one or more repairs over the course of a few years and then sell you a new heat pump when it becomes clear that the old unit is too far gone to repair.

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New Furnace Cost – Gas Furnace Replacement vs. Repair 2017-2018

Furnaces remain the most common way for homeowners in North America to heat their homes. This furnace buying guide has all the research needed to understand your furnace purchase and make a buying decision you’ll be happy with in the next 15-20 years.

The focus is on gas furnaces, since most furnaces are fueled by natural gas (NG) or, with a simple gas valve change, liquid propane (LP). However, we also briefly discuss oil furnaces.

New Furnace Cost

When efficiency, size and performance are factored into the equation, expect these cost ranges for:

  • Basic furnaces: $750 to $1,475
  • Better furnaces: $1,000 to $2,150
  • Best furnaces: $1,850 to $2,800

Furnace installation costs are based on the complexity of the furnace, sheet metal work required to connect it to the ductwork and how difficult it is to access the installation location such as a crawlspace or attic. Expect estimates for installation in these ranges:

  • Basic furnace installation: $1,400 to $1,900
  • Better furnace installation: $1,750 to $2,200
  • Best furnace installation: $2,000 to $2,400

Reasons to Get a New Furnace

New Gas furnace and Duct Work

via Holliday Heating

If you are in an exploratory mode and wondering if a new furnace is the right move, here are the top seven reasons to buy a new furnace:

  • Repair costs on an existing furnace are 50% or more of the cost of a new furnace (33% for a furnace 12-15 years old; 25% of a furnace that is 15+)
  • You’re staying put – the longer you plan to live in your current home, the more it makes sense to put the money into new equipment (and conversely, if moving soon, repairing the furnace might make more sense)
  • It’s a preemptive move – your furnace is running, but you don’t know for how long due to age and/or past repair issues (worth considering where winters are harsh!)
  • Your gas bills are rising because the furnace is losing efficiency due to age (though you might want to have it cleaned and maintained to see if it significantly improves efficiency before deciding whether to replace it)
  • You want to improve efficiency
  • You want to upgrade climate control
  • You’ve built a home or addition that needs heating

Furnace repair vs. replace:

Some of you may have heard from an HVAC contractor that it is time for a new furnace, and perhaps you think the contractor is trying to sell you something you might not need. Well, skepticism is healthy in the repair vs. replace discussion when it is informed skepticism. Here’s a secret: HVAC contractors often make more money with a both/and approach. Repair it now; replace it later.

Charlie Greer is a seasoned HVAC contractor who owns a website called HVAC Profit Boosters with the motto, “Helping plumbing, HVAC, and electrical contractors become millionaires every day.” That tells you whose side he’s on. Speaking to HVAC contractors, Greer says:

Repair vs. Replace scenarios are tricky, because, once you bring up the topic of replacing the customer’s equipment, you stand the risk of the customer deciding to get bids, meaning that you could wind up getting neither the repair nor the replacement sale. In the long run, you make more money when they (homeowners) opt for the repair anyway. You get one repair now, possibly a few more down the road, then a higher price (due to inflation) when they ultimately replace it in the future.

Greer’s advice might be great for HVAC contractors, but not for homeowners. The bottom line is that if an HVAC contractor recommends replacing your furnace rather than repairing it, the person might be giving you sound advice, especially if the rationale involves some of the reasons from the above list.

Pro Tip: Make sure your HVAC contractor pulls a permit to install the new furnace, and that the job is properly inspected following the installation.

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