Which heat pump to get?
June 24, 2016 1:31 PM   Subscribe

My heat pump (a 10 SEER packaged unit) is dead. It would cost at least $800 to fix it, assuming it's an easy fix. If not, it would either be unfixable (because no one makes the coils anymore), or cost well over $1k (if, for example, the reversing valve needs to be fixed/replaced). So I've had a few different quotes on new heat pumps, and can't decide what to do... Can anyone shed some light on the best route to take?

Should I go with a better warranty, even though I have to pay more initially? What about the SEER rating--does it make sense to pay $600 extra for a 16 SEER vs a 14? Assume that I'll stay in the house for at least 5 years.

The quotes are as follows:

14 SEER 3.5 ton Goodman for $5100, one year labor warranty, 10 years parts, no financing
16 SEER 3.5 ton Goodman for $5700, two years labor warranty, 10 years parts, no financing
14 SEER 3.5 ton Trane for $6400, 10 years parts and labor, interest free financing for 58 months

The 16 SEER Trane would be over $10k, which is well beyond my budget.

It looks like because I'm getting a package unit, I qualify for a tax credit for either 14 or 16 SEER.

posted by kethonna to Home & Garden (7 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Best answer: You really need an HVAC specialist for this, one who can come and look at your house, talk to you about your ductwork and insulation, etc. These kinds of questions are impossible to answer online, but a good HVAC person will be able to (or know someone who will be able to) gather as much pertinent information as possible, make some educated guesses, run the calculations, and give you a cost/benefit analysis based on a combination of the results and their professional experience. HVAC is pretty much a science these days, but the most cost-effective solution varies tremendously from house to house and use-case to use-case. Not every HVAC company has it down to a science, but many do or at least have access to people who do. Find one and listen to what they have to say.
posted by Anticipation Of A New Lover's Arrival, The at 2:05 PM on June 24, 2016

Oh, and better HVAC companies will be familiar with the often-confusing range of rebates and incentives on offer, and will be able to help you find the ones that are most relevant for you. That's another thing we are unlikely to be able to do for you here, but which a pro on the scene could do very well.
posted by Anticipation Of A New Lover's Arrival, The at 2:06 PM on June 24, 2016

Nthing to talk to a HVAC contractor. Mine ran the numbers and determined the better SEER rating would make a completely negligible difference for us.

I did get quotes from a couple of companies when ours had to be replaced, just so I knew I wasn't getting ripped off.
posted by something something at 2:10 PM on June 24, 2016

Response by poster: Gotcha. Thanks, Anticipation and something! I'll definitely run it by a pro... I'm new to home ownership, and I really want to do things myself or with very little (professional) help, but hvac stuff is beyond my ken, unfortunately.
posted by kethonna at 2:50 PM on June 24, 2016

Should I go with a better warranty, even though I have to pay more initially?

In my experience, yes. In the ten years I lived in one apartment here in DC, I had to live through two failures of cheap heat pumps. Ten years, three heat pumps.

But yes, investigate all rebates and tax credits. You may qualify for more than one. But when we had to replace the dead heat pump in our new house, the HVAC contractor we were already working with (long story) had no idea the (local government) rebate I found existed.
posted by fedward at 3:11 PM on June 24, 2016

That 10 year warranty would be mighty tempting to me if I were responsible for paying for heat pump repair (weirdly, in my condo I own the heat pump (I paid to replace it), but the building is responsible for repairs and maintenance. They even change my filters every 6 months). I would look into whether there's a way to get a similar warranty on a cheaper model, though, if it turns out a cheaper model meets your needs. I would look into whether this is possible by buying a third party warranty (those things best buy is always trying to sell you) or if buying on your credit card doubles your warranty or anything like that. It might be cheaper.
posted by If only I had a penguin... at 3:26 PM on June 24, 2016

Response by poster: Looks like the consensus is pay more for the warranty, and get a professional to determine the appropriate SEER rating. Thanks, everyone, for your help!
posted by kethonna at 3:36 PM on June 25, 2016

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