A heat pump is a central air conditioning and highly efficient heating system that will "extract" heat from the air in the winter time for cost effective heating comfort in all but the most severe winter climates. The system "reverse-cycles" in the heating mode and captures heat from outside and "pumps" it into your home.
Unlike a furnace it doesn't burn fuel to make heat - It simply uses electricity to move heat from one place to another. In the cooling mode, an air conditioner simply captures heat from inside your home and transfers it outside. In heating, a heat pump "reverse-cycles" and captures heat from outside and moves it inside.
This process is more efficient than electric heat as it is much less expensive to transfer existing heat than to actually generate it.
There is usable heat in the air down to about 0 degrees Fahrenheit. It feels cold to us because our skin temperature is 98.6 degrees. A heat pump's heating capacity is rated at 47 degrees ambient (outside) temperature. As the outside temperature drops the heat pumps capacity drops in a linear fashion relative to the outdoor temperature.
Most heat pumps will produce about half of their rated capacity at 12 degrees ambient. An electric heating element provides supplemental heat to assist the heat pump as its capacity declines. The heat pump monitors both the outdoor temperature and inside supply air temperature and energizes the assist as needed, automatically.
Begin with the right system type for your home
There are 3 fundamental types of air conditioning and heating systems that are commonly used :
1. "Split System"
Approximately 90% of the homes in the US use this configuration. “Split” simply means that your equipment is split into two main components: indoor and outdoor. The outdoor section is variously referred to as a condenser, condensing unit, or simply the outdoor unit. The indoor section is also called an air handler, (all electric), furnace, (typically gas or oil), or, simply the indoor unit. If you have an air conditioner unit outside your home and an indoor unit (typically in a closet, garage space, or attic with ducting attached to it), then you have split system.
2. "Package Unit"
These systems are used primarily on mobile or modular homes or older homes on a crawl space with the ductwork beneath the floor. Occasionally package units are installed on residential flat roofs with exposed ductwork. The easiest way to determine if you have a package type system (or self-contained as they are sometimes called) is to look outside at your air conditioner.
Package units are generally large and will always have 2 large, square or round ducts connected directly to them. If you notice this, then you have a package unit. Package systems are identified on our site under “package unit” or “mobile home” selection links in blue navigation bar at the top of every page.
* Sometimes, in rare instances, the air conditioning package unit will reside outside with a separate, ducted heating unit inside, but this is very unusual and changes nothing for our purposes of determining system type.
3. Ductless "mini split"
These are not referred to as central air conditioners and are normally used in single-room applications such as porch enclosures, bonus rooms, music studios, etc.
This is technically a split system with a wall hung indoor unit connected to an outdoor section via refrigerant lines routed through a 3 inch hole in the wall. Multiple ductless type systems can be purchased to provide whole-house cooling where ductwork is costly, impossible, or prohibitive.
How do I size a heat pump and the supplemental heating element for my home?
Assuming you've determined that a heat pump is right for your climate , the standard and technical explanation links below describe the only proper way to size both the heat pump itself and the supplemental heating element that is included with all of our heat pump systems.
Here is the simple explanation of how a heat pump is sized : Back to Top
When sizing a heat pump for your home we begin by determining the required cooling capacity just as we would with any air conditioning system. Heat pumps are offered in the same tonnage increments as you expect from standard air conditioning so pick the proper tonnage based on the cooling requirements of your home. Our air conditioning sizing calculators are available here .
You can use our climate-based sizing chart to get an idea of sizing based on your climate. We suggest that you complete a load calculation on your home or that a local contractor visit you to provide a detailed analysis for proper sizing of both the heat pump and supplemental heating element.
Once you have determined the sizing requirements for the cooling side of your heat pump system, you then need to select the proper supplemental heating element that is included with all of our heat pumps. If you are replacing an existing heat pump system simply locate your main breaker panel and identify the heating breaker. Look for a number where you grasp the breaker. The following breaker sizes indicate the heating element shown:
If you are not replacing an existing heat pump system you can use the heating element sizing guidelines below. The average low temperatures shown below are considered to be the average low temperature you would expect to experience just about every winter, not the coldest you would ever expect to see over a 5-year period for example. Central Florida has an average low of 35 degrees but can experience temperatures in the low 20's every 6 or 7 seven years.
Supplemental Heating Element Kw by climate and tonnage
Very warm winter climates (Average low winter temperatures of 35 degrees and up)
1.5 - 3.0 tons Heat Pump - Use a 5 Kw
3.5 - 5.0 tons Heat Pump - Use a 10Kw
Mild winter climates (Average low winter temperatures of 25 degrees and up)
1.5 - 2.0 tons Heat Pump - Use a 5 Kw
2.5 - 5.0 tons Heat Pump - Use a 10Kw
Colder winter climates (Average low winter temperatures of 0 degrees and up)
1.5 - 2.5 tons Heat Pump - Use a 10 Kw
2.5 - 3.5 tons Heat Pump - Use a 15 Kw
4.0 - 5.0 tons Heat Pump - Use a 20 Kw
Coldest winter climates (Average low winter temperatures of -10 degrees and up)
Heat pumps are not recommended for these climates unless no other choice exists.
1.5 - 2.0 tons Heat Pump - Use a 10 Kw
2.5 - 3.0 tons Heat Pump - Use a 15 Kw
3.0 - 5.0 tons Heat Pump - Use a 20 Kw
Remember, the sizing above is informational only and not is intended to replace proper sizing from either a local contractor or from our sizing calculator .
Choosing a heating and air conditioning brand can be confusing, but a little information goes a long way in making the right choice. Not all brands are right for every person, every time. Price, configuration, and capabilities must factor into the decision. We polled our personal advisors and warranty fulfillment techs and came up with some facts (and opinions) about the various brands we carry that may help you decide:
Ruud / Rheem
Ships from: Southeast and Mid West
In business since: 1950's
Limitations: Pricey in some categories but many heat pump models offer excellent value
Warranty Fulfillment: Average
Pricing points: Mid to upper end
Value: Very good
Name recognition: Well known
Availability: Very good
We have offered the brand for over 7 years and have experienced a very low warranty failure rate on the entire product line. We feel Ruud is a very good value (especially when you are considering a heat pump) and quality is top rated by the leading consumer reporting agency for 7 years in a row. Product offerings are extensive and wide ranging. Exceptionally good values available in the tax credit-certified heat pump offerings.
Ruud has been about average in terms of warranty part fulfillment. Most customers know either the Ruud or Rheem brand, sister companies with identical product offerings.
Ships from: Southeast
In business since: 1984
Quality: About average
Limitations: Limited offerings in mobile home equipment
Warranty Fulfillment: Average
Pricing points: Lower end
Name recognition: Well known
Availability: Mostly very good
We have offered the Goodman brand for over 9 years and have experienced about average warranty failure rates. We feel Goodman is a good value and quality is about mid pack. Product offerings are extensive and wide ranging, much better than most
Goodman has been about average in terms of warranty part fulfillment. Many customers know the brand.
Local Utility Rebate Finder
Call our Personal Advisors with your city and utility company name and we will provide you with any local, state, federal, and utility rebates or incentives that may be available in your area. Only from AC4life. Just call toll-free 1-866-862-8922
It's a fact that surprises many people. The air quality inside your home is often worse than the air quality outside. We offer cooling and heating system air filtration options that use a sophisticated multi-part filter system to remove contaminants such as allergens, viruses, and bacteria from the air as they circulate within a room. Or, choose from highly effective media air cleaners that help remove particles from the air measuring just 1/24,000 of an inch. These media filters start at just $139 and help to trap dust, pollens, mites, and other particles that plague allergy sufferers. As a result you enjoy pristine air 24/7.
Generalaire media filter
The GENERALAire Media Filter is designed for use in a centrally ducted forced air system. This filter will permanently install directly beneath your indoor air handler or furnace within the return air stream. The pleated Opti-Fiber Media filter efficiently traps particles as small as 1 micron (1/24,000th of an inch in diameter) so cleaned air is recirculated into the environment. More
The Aprilaire 5000 Electronic Air Cleaner traps particles entering the air cleaner through an intensified electric field that are then collected on special grounded micro-fiber media. The leading consumer advocacy group has stated that it is the most efficient whole house air cleaner they have ever tested, two years in a row. More
The Startech Zebra-14 UV Light is our "Best Buy" option when it comes to killing molds, bacteria, viruses and germs in your central air conditioner. This flexible and inexpensive system mounts easily and can connect to a low voltage transformer or simply be plugged in. More
Blue Tube UV (model TUV-BTER) is designed as a simple way to prevent the growth of molds, bacteria, viruses, and slime in your air conditioner. In the Bluetube UV unique package is everything you need. The unit mounts magnetically! Just connect to the low voltage transformer and install the UV light where needed. More
How to select the right contractor to install your new system
Your heating and air conditioning systems are what make your home a habitable place to live, until something goes wrong that is. If you’re wondering if you can save hundreds or even thousands by purchasing direct and taking a more hands-on approach in the selection process – the answer is definitely YES, and you’ve come to the right place.
Our customer’s number in the tens of thousands who have saved big, and now you can too. When buying direct you’ll need a qualified air conditioning contractor to pick up the labor where you leave off.
Your equipment manufacturer requires that the system be started-up and checked by a licensed contractor even if you complete some or most of the work yourself. Federal EPA regulations also require a certification to handle refrigerant and to start-up any split air conditioning system containing refrigerant. Some simple tips in searching out that qualified contractor will make the process easier and more efficient.
The heating and air conditioning industry is rapidly adjusting to the fact that you can now log on to the web and shop a huge selection of equipment quickly and efficiently. A few contractors you speak with may not offer installation-only services. If not, keep looking as there are plenty that will. Keep this in mind when talking to your contractor.
We live in a much more efficient shopping environment than ever before. Just be persistent - show them how this can work in their favor and you can both walk away happy.
One of the advantages of buying direct is complete transparency with respect to equipment and labor pricing. The industry is loath to separately reveal the material and labor portions of their pricing and this is a great way for you to get a handle on both – and receive fair, open pricing on both the equipment and the labor. Once the labor time is indentified it is easier for you to gauge the pricing fairness for a set number of hours.
Be fair with them as well. Their pricing includes not just the direct labor costs, but also the cost of overhead, insurance, tools, vehicles, training, taxes, etc. A fair daily labor rate for 2 persons to properly install your system is between $800 and $1500, depending on the time of year, your market, and other factors. Many replacement systems can be installed in one day. Ductwork and tight installations will increase the time and cost.
Finding a Qualified Heating and Air Conditioning Contractor
Begin with people you know . Perhaps you know an electrician, plumber or other tradesperson that you can contact and ask for a referral. Heating and air conditioning contractors are more likely to say yes to your installation-only request if they know who they're talking to. Focus on what's in it for them using this thought:
“ Mr. or Ms. Contractor: I contacted a source of mine who was able to get me a significant discount on exactly the heating and air conditioning equipment I need. The equipment will be shipped directly to the jobsite. The good news is that I want you to install, service and maintain my equipment for me. I'd like to discuss an annual service agreement on the equipment to keep it in top notch shape and I'd like to contract with you for not only the installation but the required annual maintenance as well.
This can be a win-win for us both and I'll continue to refer out your services every chance I get. Please quote me a fair price for the necessary labor to install my equipment including everything you think is required, including the drain lines, condenser pads, electrical wiring, etc. I was also told that you can become the preferred installer for any other jobs of this nature in our area if that appeals to you."
If you are blissfully happy with your contractor, please let us know and we will add them to our preferred contractor list for whatever area they service. This list is being compiled and is expected to be available to our customers in the coming months.
Ask about a one year labor warranty as part of the agreement. They will add in a residual amount to cover their risk, but in the end it is worth it to you.
Contact the local air conditioning and heating wholesale supply house. Ask them if they can refer someone to you who they know is reliable and honest. The counter person deals with service techs and installers all day and will definitely know a few people he or she can refer you to, all you have to do is ask. Tell them you are looking for someone who is competent and honest to install, service and maintain your new system.
Leverage your status with your employer's heating and air conditioning service company . Call this company and tell them your employer's name and ask them for a quote. If they don't offer the type of service you need, ask them to refer you to someone they know who does. Ask them to phone ahead for you so the referral is expecting your call. Of course, check with the boss and make sure it's okay ahead of time. Your employers' service company is more likely to help than strangers would be.
Network through friends and neighbors . Ask your neighbors, coworkers, or friends to refer you to someone with whom they have a pre-existing relationship. Ask them to phone ahead so the referral is expecting your call. Always let them know what's in it for them, such as air conditioning service agreements and referrals.
Your local trade schools often have students supervised by a licensed contractor/professor. They may be anxious for the hands-on experience and you'll get a very fair price. Just make sure they are comfortable installing your selection.
Browse the free local publications found in grocery stores , such as The Pennysaver, Treasure Chest, etc. Many times there are service-only companies who are interested in installation and labor, not equipment sales. These smaller companies are usually hungrier and more responsive. Always be sure to check for valid licenses and BBB records to filter out the less reliable contractors.
Finally, always check the following before hiring any contractor:
Make sure the contractor, electrician or plumber you are considering is registered and licensed as required by your local state law. Most states require that contractors obtain licensing and registration to perform work. Registration doesn't necessarily guarantee performance, but it does mean the contractor must obtain liability insurance and a surety bond that can protect you if they don't live up to their promises
For information, log-on to your states' contractor registration web site to ensure their license is valid, and to determine how long the contractor has been in business and whether there have been any complaints against them.
Ask for and obtain a copy of their liability insurance policy limits. Contractors are required to carry certain minimum limits of liability in case one of their employees is injured on your property. If their insurance has lapsed, you could become responsible for the costs of the employee's injuries.
Insist on a permit if your local municipality requires it. Normally, an inspection is scheduled by a local official to ensure that the completed job meets certain minimum standards. This provides some degree of protection against a defective installation and ensures that it complies with municipal code requirements.
We prefer to deal with companies who can certify that all employees who visit your home are thoroughly background checked for criminal and drug violations. If they don't know who's working for them, how can you expect to? Play it safe and insist on background check verifications!
Some final thoughts to remember:
· Ask for references
Always get 2 bids for the job if possible
· Always obtain a written contract that contains all important aspects of the job
· Be cautious in dealing with a contractor who asks for a large down payment. They don't need a down payment because you already paid for the equipment
Pay the contractor upon completion of the job, and pay only for the portion of the job that has been completed ·
Avoid making final payment until you have received a lien release