How to Select a Heat Pump Easily

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Either selecting a heat pump for a new or existing home, there are three factors that have to be considered; energy efficiency rating, sizing and the available quality components with features. This will result in selecting the best heat pumps with the greatest savings and comfortable heating and cooling for years to come.

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Energy efficiency

Energy efficiency rating is one of the most used /popular criteria when selecting a new heat pump. This data can be found on the EnergyGuide label, informing about the heat pump’s heating and cooling efficiency performance rating HSPF and SEER.

HSPF is the Heating Seasonal Performance Factor and it rates the heating efficiency of the compressor and electric heating elements. The recommendation is to select the unit with the HSPF between 8 and 10, or in short – higher better. HSPF represents the amount of heating in BTUs over the electricity, used over the heating season and takes into account an additional energy usage (i.e. defrosting).

SEER is the seasonal energy efficiency ratio and it rates the cooling efficiency of the heat pump. The recommendation is to select the heat pump with the SEER from 14 and up, or model with the highest value. It represents the amount of cooling in BTUs divided by the electricity, used during the cooling period.

Select the heat pump with the high HSPF and SEER rating – Energy Star compliance should be a priority. But be aware that the higher efficiency rating means higher prices. Learn more about the efficiency here.

Sizing tips

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Note that the proper size is important because oversizing can cause the heat pump to cycle more often resulting in lower efficiency and more stress on the components, including higher energy consumption. The properly sized unit provides better comfort and humidity control. 

The correctly sized heat pump allows easy deal with the heating or cooling load. Recommendation is to size a heat pump to provide no more than 125% of the cooling load and 80-90% of the heating load. The balance point is between 0 C and 5 C.

It is important to know that the heating and cooling capacities are measured in Btu/hour. When looking at the specification sheet, it can be found that the cooling capacity is often expressed in “tons” where every ton is equal to 12,000 Btu/hr.

Since the calculation of the product sizing is complex, the recommendation is to hire an HVAC contractor who already has the experience, is knowledgeable and understands local and national codes.

Components to consider when selecting the best heat pump

  • Variable-speed or dual-speed compressor is better than the older one-speed compressor that can operate only at the maximum speed. As the compressor is one of the most important elements in the heat pumps, knowing the manufacturer’s reputation and warranty is very important.
  • Variable speed motors on fans or blowers are better due to the higher efficiency and lower noise level.
  • Look for the heat pump with the thermostatic expansion valves as they provide more precise control of the refrigerant flow.
  • Select a heat pump that comes with the copper tubing in the evaporator and condensing coil. Copper tubing will never rust, it is a good heat conductor and is easy to install and repair.
  • Select the unit with the accumulator to reduce stress on the compressor.
  • Select the unit with the demand-defrost control so the unit is less prone to the stress by cycling on and off.
  • Make sure the refrigerant is environment-friendly, such as the R-410A, which are hydrofluorocarbons (HFC) – it comes with the zero ozone depletion potential (ODP) and lower global warming potential (GWP) when compared to the old R-22.
  • Make sure the noise level found on the specification data sheet is 7.6 bels or below.
  • The multizone setup is a preference for the single zone setup as it allows an independent room control.
  • Strong components protect from the surrounding influence and harsh weather conditions.

As seen from above, there are many factors that are important when selecting a heat pump – because this is a great decision to make, and expensive. It should also be taken into account the place or region where you live, your budget, and are you looking for a new or used one. Keep in mind that this is a sophisticated device, so choosing a contractor who will do the work properly, is another very important decision to make.

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