A heat pump is a versatile and energy-efficient method of heating and cooling your home. This explains why it has spread rapidly throughout the United States despite being slightly costly. Let’s take a look at how to install them in California
There are different types of heat pumps. So it can be confusing if you’re thinking about installing one or want to know if you already have one in your new home. Which leads us to the question, “What does a heat pump look like?”[ez-toc]
In this article, we’ll cover the main components of a heat pump as well as their various shapes. We’ll also tell you how to tell an AC unit from a heat pump unit, so here we go!
Types of heat pumps in California
First of all, let’s go over the major components of a heat pump system. A typical heat pump has two main components: an outdoor unit and an indoor unit.
This is where the magic happens! The compressor in the outdoor unit aids in the circulation of heat between the outdoor and indoor units.
Simply put, it’s made up of a fan and a coil. If you set the coil to cool, it’ll function as a condenser; it’ll act as an evaporator if you set it to heat. In either case, the fan works by drawing in fresh air from outside and directing it to the coil.
That being said, you’ll find the outdoor unit installed outside of your building in a well-ventilated location to ensure adequate air supply. It resembles the unit of a central AC. It’ll also most likely be close to the ground, making it easier to access when performing maintenance.
The indoor unit, also known as an air handler, is located inside your home. It’s linked to the outdoor unit by refrigerant tubing that is no more than 50 feet long. This is the ideal length for maintaining proper connectivity and allowing both units to function properly.
The air handler is installed either on the ceiling, wall, or floor of your home.
What Does a Heat Pump Look Like?
Depending on the type of heat pump you have, the outdoor unit can take various forms. The shape of air handlers can also vary depending on where they’re positioned in your home.
Types of Outdoor Heat Pumps
We’ll begin by explaining two of the most common types of heat pumps and how their outdoor units should look:
Air-Source Heat Pumps
The air-source heat pumps work by exchanging heat between the outside air and the air in your home. This type of heat pump can be ductless mini-split heat pumps or ducted heat pumps.
–Ductless mini-split heat pumps: A ductless heat pump system is ideal for homes without ductwork.
One of its benefits is that you can customize your room’s heating system without affecting the temperature of other air handlers.
–Ducted heat pumps: These work best for homes with existing ductwork. It improves air circulation from outside to inside your home via air ducts.
An air-source heat pump’s outdoor unit resembles a standard external AC unit. It’s usually a white-painted metal box with a visible fan on the outside.
Geothermal Heat Pumps
Each year, approximately 50,000 geothermal heat pumps are installed in the United States. However, the outdoor unit of this type of heat pump won’t be visible to you.
Geothermal heat pumps obtain heat from renewable energy from the earth’s core or from a water source. Thus, the outdoor unit for this heating system is installed underground, usually in the backyard. A hole is dug in the ground to obtain this heat.
Regardless of the weather outside, this type of heat pump will always deliver the desired temperature to your home, whether it’s set to heat or cool.
These can be installed for a house and a whole block. The latter systems are larger but allow people to share the installation costs.
Types of Air Handlers (indoor units)
We’ve compiled a list of three of the most widely used air handlers so you’re familiar with them all:
Wall-Mounted Air Handler
This air handler is mounted on the top of your home’s wall. It protrudes from the wall and resembles an AC unit.
Floor-Mounted Air Handler
This unit, like the wall-mounted unit, protrudes from the wall but at a lower level closer to the ground.
Ceiling-Mounted Air Handler
Ceiling-mounted units are perfect for those who prefer a more seamless look. When there’s no ductwork, this unit is known as a ductless ceiling cassette.
It resembles vent ducts but is larger in size and doesn’t need to be connected to central air systems.
Are Heat Pumps Worth It in California?
The answer is that it depends on your situation.
Installing a heat pump in your home or building is a long-term investment. We understand that the initial payment can be off-putting, but in the long run, you’ll end up saving money. Whether it’s because of lower energy bills or minimal maintenance.
Moreover, heat pumps aren’t only a great energy-saving alternative to air conditioners and furnaces, but also a hybrid of the two. A heat pump can produce both warm and cold temperatures.
However, just like anything else, a heat pump has a few drawbacks. So, to give you a better picture, we’ve gathered some of the benefits and downsides of installing one.
5 Benefits of Owning a Heat Pump in California
The benefits of having a heat pump system in your home include:
Lower Operating Costs
Thanks to its design and operating structure, a heat pump can save you up to $1,000 or more per year on energy bills. Simply put, energy-efficient systems, such as heat pumps, are far less expensive to maintain than combustion-based systems. They are more expensive to install though.
Heat pumps use electricity to circulate air from outside to inside your home. During this process, the air passes through a refrigerant, which either cools or heats the air. All of this is achieved without the use of a fuel source.
Require Minimal Maintenance
Unlike combustion-based systems, heat pumps require fewer maintenance checks. In fact, you should only have a technician come in once a year to perform general inspections and lubricate the motors. Some homeowners began to perform these checks on their own.
In any case, make sure that you don’t overlook a maintenance check. According to the US Department of Energy, a well-maintained heat pump can save up to 25% more energy than an unmaintained one.
Have Heating and Cooling Modes
A heat pump system can be used in heating mode in the winter and cooling mode in the summer. Consequently, there’ll be no need for two separate systems for each season.
In return, you’ll save money spent on energy bills as well as maintenance for air conditioners and heaters. Besides, this will free up some space in your home!
Enhance Air Quality
Most standard HVAC systems help trap airborne pollutants in your home, especially if they’re not well maintained.
Even if the unit is in the basement, combustion-based heating systems (such as a traditional gas heater) emit hazardous gases such as sulfur dioxide. Naturally, these gases can easily find their way to your home.
Whereas some heat pumps transfer air through ducts that purify the air, other heat pumps have ductless air purifiers that are even more effective at air purification.
Additionally, to achieve a high level of filtration, modern units now include ionic filters, plasma filters, and high-efficiency particulate air (HEPA) filters.
Unfortunately, any gas-powered unit is susceptible to carbon monoxide leakage. Carbon monoxide leaks kill approximately 400 Americans each year, especially during the winter, when people are heating their homes and not properly ventilating them. As a result, carbon monoxide continues to accumulate until it reaches dangerou levels.
Heat pumps, on the other hand, run on electricity, so you won’t have to worry about that.Furthermore, you’ll avoid the hassle of a carbon monoxide detector and its routine maintenance.
5 Downsides of Owning a Heat Pump in California
The downsides of having a heat pump system in your home include:
High Initial Cost
This is regarded as one of the main issues when purchasing a heat pump. Both the cost of purchasing one as well as the cost of installing it can be very pricey.
Although, if you give it some thought, the complexity of installing such a unit and the technology used in it can make sense.
There are 2 main types of heat pumps: air and ground-based. Ground-based systems require expensive drilling. In some instances, these costs can be shared between several houses. Air-based systems are often installed on the roof.
Complicated Installation Process
If you decide to purchase a heat pump, experts will take some time to conduct preliminary research. To plan its installation, they must understand the movement of heat as well as the local geology of where you’re located.
Besides, parts of your home and garden may be destroyed during the installation process. This is why the installer needs to study the situation before they can start the works.
Runs Completely on Electricity
Even though an electrically powered unit comes with many perks, it still has drawbacks.
Because heat pumps are powered by electricity, they’ll not work if there’s a power outage. Of course, this can be quite inconvenient on extremely hot or bitterly cold days.
Performance Affected by Low Temperatures
During snowy winters, the outdoor unit of a heat pump can freeze, causing performance issues. In some cases, the unit may occasionally freeze, but it can be easily defrosted. Yet, in other cases, the unit’s fan malfunctions and doesn’t properly draw air into the unit.
Moreover, excessive snow can cause the evaporator coil or fan blades to become clogged. All of this will disrupt the airflow and prevent you from receiving the desired level of warmth.
Not Suitable for All Households
Several factors can influence whether or not your building or home can accommodate a heat pump. Buildings are sometimes not fully prepared to house a heat pump.
Buildings with no exterior space are a good example. In this case, there’ll be no room for the outdoor unit, and subsequently, you’ll be unable to install the heat pump system.
Heat Pump Installation Costs in CaliforniaThere are various types of heat pumps available, all of which have one thing in common: they extract heat from their surroundings and transfer it inside as warm or cool air. That’s where the similarities end, though. Each type has its advantages and disadvantages at different price points, which is why a heat pump type is one of the most significant factors affecting how much your heat pump costs. Let’s take a closer look at some of the most common heat pump types and the related costs:
Air Source heat pump (Air to air system) installation cost in CaliforniaAir-source heat pumps work by transferring heat from an outside compressor to indoor handlers. They’re inexpensive to install and work well in temperate climates. These pumps can cost between $4,500 and $8,000, but more high-end options can cost more than $10,000. These prices primarily depend on the unit’s capacity and its brand.
Geothermal heat pump installation cost in CaliforniaGeothermal heat pumps, also known as ground-source pumps, are installed underground and range in price from $13,000 to $36,000. The high cost of this system is due to the underground excavation required to install the pumps. While geothermal heat pumps are one of the most expensive systems, they’re the most energy-efficient. A geothermal heat pump system can cut your energy bills by up to 80%. What’s more, it can function normally even in extreme cold.
Ductless Mini-Split installation cost in CaliforniaDuctless mini-split heat pumps are installed similarly to air-source heat pumps, with an outside compressor and multiple air handlers serving different zones inside. They work well in small houses without a duct system. These heat pumps typically cost between $1,000 and $5,000. They’re one of the most affordable systems because installation is relatively simple and costs between $500 and $1,500. However, depending on how many zones the system will serve in the house, mini-split pumps can cost up to $14,500.
Dual-Fuel Hybrid heat pump installation cost in CaliforniaA dual-fuel hybrid system is a combination of heat pumps and gas furnaces. This hybrid system allows you to run the heat pumps when it’s warm and the furnace when it’s cold. It’s most ideal for areas where temperatures drop below 32°F. Prices vary depending on whether you’re adding heat pumps to an existing furnace or installing an entirely new hybrid system:
- A new heat pump added to an existing furnace costs between $2,500 and $6,000
- A new dual-fuel hybrid system can cost anywhere from $4,500 to $10,000
Solar heat pump installation cost in CaliforniaSolar heat pumps are significantly more expensive than other types of heat pumps, ranging in price from $18,000 to $39,000. The high price is due to the cost of the solar panels. While solar heat pumps are initially expensive, depending on the setup, they can be used to cover a portion of the electricity demand or capture energy to feed the pump’s evaporator. This system is available in two setups. One setup uses solar panels to power the compressor. The other setup is similar to a solar water heater in that the solar panels heat an intermediate fluid that assists the pump.
Gas-FiredGas-fired heat pumps cost between $3,000 and $6,000 per unit, with installation costs ranging between $1,300 and $2,000. On average, the overall cost of a gas-fired system is between $4,500 and $8,000. This heating system is powered by gas, which makes it less energy-efficient than other heat pump types. However, it’s an excellent choice for buildings where electricity is scarce or costly. You’ll usually find 5-ton gas-fired units in commercial installations, large buildings, or extremely homes larger than 4,000 square feet.
Heat Pump Installation Cost BreakdownMany of us may get thrown off by the relatively high price of heat pump system installation. However, it’s easier to understand where the money goes if we look closely at what constitutes installation costs.
- Labor costs: depending on the heat pump type, labor costs can vary. The more effort and time installation requires, the more costly the job will be
- Permit fees: you may need to obtain a couple of permits, which may increase the cost
- Equipment: any materials and supplies that the contractor uses are included in the installation costs
- Duct system: if your house doesn’t have an existing HVAC system, installing new ducts could cost you anywhere from $1,900 to $6,000, depending on the project’s complexity
Other Factors That Affect Heat Pump CostAlong with basic heat pump type and installation costs, other factors may affect how much you’ll have to pay to install a heat pump system:
- Capacity: the size of your home determines how many tons the unit will need to heat the space efficiently. The larger the size of your home, the higher the price
- Location and Climate: warmer locations can make do with smaller air-source units, which are affordable. Colder locations, however, need larger units, which are more expensive
- Brand quality: Most brands offer both affordable and high-end heat pumps. The unit’s price will depend on its brand name, features, reliability, efficiency, and performance
- Seasonal Energy Efficiency Ratio (SEER): Heat pump SEER ratings range from 13 to 24. The higher the SEER rating, the more efficient the unit, and the higher the price
- Heating Seasonal Performance Factor (HSPF): Heat pump HSPF ratings fall between 8.2 and 13. The higher the number, as with SEER, the more efficient and expensive the unit is