What is the Best Heat Pump Brand?

I was walking with my daughters the other day and a question popped up – What is the best heat pump brand? How could this question quite possibly come up with my daughters you may ask.

Well, as we passed through a section of townhomes, I started pointing out the heat pumps to them. Some were old and some were new. I showed them they could tell by how faded the paint was on some and how shinny others were. They picked up quickly on that.

I then started pointing out the different name tags on the units. There were Trane, Carrier, Goodman, Amana, Bryant, Rheem, Ruud, Lennox, Payne, and more. Although my daughters do not usually get as exited as me about HVAC, they did have fun finding heat pumps with new names. They even would comment on how some were tall and how some were short and wide.

I explained that there are different companies who make heat pumps and that the name on the tag is the company that makes the unit in a factory. I also explained that although some of the units have different names, they are actually within the same family. The perfect example of this was with Carrier, Bryant, and Payne. I explained the chain of commerce for the equipment and that the heat pump is most often purchased by the contractor who installs it for the homeowner.

It didn’t take them long to get right to an important question – “which one is the best heat pump brand?” Coming from my young daughters, the question kind of caught me off guard and I did not have a quick, definitive answer for them. It is an important question. After all, you want to make sure the equipment you are buying is good, dependable and long lasting. You want a good ROI (return on investment) with minimal repairs.

I found myself quickly considering the same factors I discuss with customers when they ask me this same question. Relevant are considerations like budget, the level of energy efficiency sought, empirical evidence, and having a preference for a certain brand?

Despite these relevant considerations, I couldn’t help but think about the main reason why a homeowner ends up getting a particular brand heat pump. Usually, it comes down to who the homeowner hires.

Typically, the contractor aligns with one brand. There are several reasons for this, such as discounted equipment pricing, rebate programs, advertising and branding assistance, as well as simplicity and efficiency in sales and installations and service. Sometimes, these benefits to the contractor are passed along to the homeowner.

Among all the reasons why a contractor aligns with a particular brand, where does the consideration of actual quality design, construction, and longevity rank? After all, a contractor is running a business and important to maintaining a profitable business are the immediate financial concerns involved with dealer programs.

At some point, however, a wise contractor should also consider call backs, premature equipment failure, and the fear of inheriting a bad image for selling unreliable equipment to their customers. But then again, how many systems really fail during the first year? And is this failure due to the brand or more so because of the installation. After all, it is not uncommon to see less expensive, less mainstream brands lasting more than 15 years.

So what is the best way of answering the question of what brand makes the best heat pump? Perhaps its based on what consumers think. Perhaps its what contractors think. Perhaps its based on results derived from independent testing.  Or maybe, it just simply comes down to which brand you see more often during your walk.

One last question: what is the single most important factor for you in determining the best heat pump brand?

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