How Much Does It Cost To Install A Heat Pump System?
For most homeowners in Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Maryland, or Delaware, the cost ranges from $8,000 to $15,000 to install a heat pump HVAC system. But, a lot of factors that go into that figure. It can be as low as $4,000 or higher than $30,000.
Most homeowners in the mid-Atlantic region opt for ducted air-source heat pumps or mini splits. That puts them in the average cost range I quoted above.
Ultimately, you’ll have to speak with a local HVAC installer for an accurate quote. There are some factors you can’t control. For instance, your home’s current HVAC setup and heating and cooling capacity needs. And the prevailing labor costs in your area.
What you can control is your choice of heat pump type, model, energy efficiency, and more.
I’ll give you as much information as possible about how much it should cost to install a heat pump system. That way you can start your research well before speaking with a professional installer.
I’ve worked for well over a decade as a product manager for Peirce Phelps, a nationwide HVAC distributor. Not only am I an expert on the latest models, innovations and industry developments, but I also work closely with dozens of HVAC contractors in the area.
I’ll start off overviews of the different types of heat pumps, what they offer, and what to watch out for. Then, I’ll break them down by price. Finally, I’ll give you some tips to get the most from your new system and answer a few common related questions.
When you’re ready to talk to someone local, use our dealer locator to find a certified installer with a long history of excellent work in your area.
Types Of Heat Pumps
Before I get into pricing, I want to lay out the different types of heat pumps available. They function differently, and their costs vary by tens of thousands of dollars. Depending on how you sort them, some extract heat from different sources.
Others are available in different setups inside your home— ducted vs. non-ducted is the big difference. And, others have different power sources.
If you already know what kind of heat pump you want, you can skip right to the pricing in the next section. Otherwise, start here.
Air-Source Heat Pump
An air-source heat pump extracts ambient heat, or thermal energy, from the air outside your home. The outdoor units are smaller than the average AC condenser and simple to install. They’re the most common for residential use.
Air-source heat pumps are highly efficient, as they can transfer heat to or from the air, even at low temperatures. They’re also easy to install and don’t need too much maintenance.
Air-source heat pumps may struggle to produce enough heat in freezing temperatures, which could result in higher energy bills. Some models are noisy, which may not be ideal for some homeowners.
Mini-split heat pumps, also known as ductless heat pumps, combine an outdoor air-source heat pump with one or more indoor units.
They’re considered different from just “air-source” because they are exclusively non-ducted: refrigerant runs directly from the outdoor unit to each air handler.
Mini-splits use inverter technology to save energy by adjusting its speed instead of only cycling between on or off. And, you can set the temperature on each air handler separately, so you don’t have to always treat the entire house.
You also have the choice which rooms to treat. The options range from a single zone to the entire house. Installation is fast and easy because there’s no ductwork required.
The big disadvantage of mini-split heat pumps is their upfront cost. They’re much more expensive than traditional heating and cooling systems and ducted air-source heat pumps. However, the long-term energy savings can cancel out the extra investment costs after a few year.
Another potential downside is their aesthetic impact. The indoor units are bulky and modern-looking. The sleek design fits contemporary home designs, but may look out of place with older home décor.
Solar Heat Pump
A solar heat heat pump draws power from the sun rather than an electrical source to power the components. For residential use, you usually see solar power paired with an air-source model.
A solar heat pump is easily the most cost-efficient: Since it uses renewable energy, you’ll pay little to nothing to heat and cool your home. You also avoid “dirty” energy: sudden spikes of power that are common when getting electricity from the grid. Those surges can damage electronics and appliances.
These are often the most expensive option, especially if you don’t already have solar panels. Then, you either need to invest in a battery to store power or remain hooked up to the grid for backup electricity. Otherwise, the systems won’t have power all the time.
Geothermal heat pumps use natural heat from the soil to heat and cool homes. They’re also known as ground-source heat pumps.
These models are incredibly energy efficient, low-maintenance, durable, and can last for many more years than most other systems. Since the system is underground, it takes up little space.
Geothermal costs more than air-source. But, the biggest downside is the space required for them. You need enough land to dig and place the unit under the soil. That also adds to the installation cost.
Water-source heat pumps can extract heat from a body of water while also moving heat from your home into that same water.
Energy efficiency is a big draw here, especially in the winter. Water is usually warmer than the air, so there’s more thermal energy to draw from. That requires less power to operate.
You need a lake, well, or river on your property, or at least have access and permission to use a body of water. The quality of that water, its pH balance, and other factors affect performance.
Dual Fuel Hybrid
A dual fuel hybrid heat pump relies on two power sources to deliver heating. It’s typically a heat pump with a gas furnace as backup.
This is the best way to ensure your home is always warm and your HVAC is energy-efficient. There’s always a chance that the temperature gets too cold for a heat pump to produce heat.
With most models, this often only occurs for a few minutes to an hour in the middle of the night. There’s still enough heat in the home that you don’t get too cold, and it’s warm enough again outside by the time you wake up that you don’t really notice.
But, the backup means never worrying about it. And, you can choose the temperature at which the system switches to gas heat. You can switch over before the heat pump loses efficiency.
You’re paying to install two full heating systems to heat and cool your home. And, you may barely ever use the second one. Then, you have two large appliances taking up space in your home: A gas furnace and an indoor handler if you’re using a ducted system.
How Much Does A Heat Pump Cost Including Installation?
Now that you know your options, we’ll get into how much you should pay for a new heat pump.
Geothermal Heat Pump Cost
Ground-source heat pumps range from $18,000 to $30,000. Installation costs increase this price as you’ll need to dig trenches at least four to six feet deep and 32 feet across. Or go much deeper with a smaller width.
Air-Source Heat Pump Cost
These common residential systems usually range from $2,500 to $15,000. Installation is straightforward unless you also need ductwork.
Water-Source Heat Pump Cost
Water-source heat pumps are less common than geothermal or air-source units. They usually cost up to $10,000 for residential use and need permanent access to a body of water to work.
Solar Heat Pump
Solar can get even more expensive than geothermal, costing $18,000 to $40,000. The high price also depends on how many solar panels you’ll need.
A heat pump for this system will cost between $2,500 and $6,000 if you can add it to your current HVAC setup. Add the cost of a furnace — usually $4,000 to $8,000 — if you need a combo system.
Mini Split Heat Pump Cost
Since there are so many installation options, mini splits, arguably, have the widest price range. A single-zone system with one indoor unit starts around $3,500.
The price goes up with each additional air handler. Most multi-zone setups require four to six indoor units for the entire house. The price for those can be $20,000 to $25,000.
Average Residential Ducted Air Heat Source Pump Costs
Since ducted air-source heat pumps are among the most common for homes, I’ll give some more specifics on their prices.
Capacity And Average BTU Sizing
Before determining installation, it’s important to know what size heat pump your home needs. We can use BTU (British Thermal Unit) to determine the heating or cooling capacity needed for a space. The average BTU sizing for a residential ducted air-source heat pump is around 25,000 to 50,000 BTUs.
How much does a heat pump cost for a 1000 sq foot home?
The cost of a ducted air-source heat pump, including installation, ranges from $2,500 to $7,500 for a 1000-square foot home
How much does a heat pump cost for a 1500 sq foot home?
The cost of a ducted air-source heat pump, including installation, ranges from $3,500 to $10,000 for a 1500-square foot home.
How much does a heat pump cost for a 2000 sq foot home?
The cost of a ducted air-source heat pump, including installation, ranges from $5,000 to $15,000 for a 2000-square foot home
How much does a heat pump cost for a 4000 sq foot home?
The cost of a ducted air-source heat pump, including installation, ranges from $10,000 to $25,000 for a 4,000-square foot home.
Factors That Affect Heat Pump Cost
Here are the biggest factors that affect the coast of a heat pump:
Heat Pump Type
Geothermal heat pumps are more expensive than mini splits, which are more expensive than ducted air-source heat pumps.
Heating a home through the winter in a colder region requires a stronger, more efficient, and more expensive unit than one primarily for cooling.
Size and Capacity
Larger homes require larger heat pumps, which are more expensive. With a mini split, that means more air handlers. Capacity requirements go up if you want your system to handle heating all winter rather than acting primarily as an air conditioner in the summer.
Efficient heat pumps are generally more expensive upfront than less efficient models. However, they save you money on your utility bills over time.
Professional installation is worth the money over installing the system yourself. But, you’re paying labor rates on top of the cost of the components, and the price goes up with more complex jobs.
Average Yearly Heat Pump Maintenance Costs
With proper care and maintenance, your heat pump can last 15 to 20 years, or even longer, You also significantly reduce the risk of breakdowns and improve its efficiency. That means fewer expenses in the long run and a better ROI.
Here’s what you can expect to pay (and do) every year to see those savings.
Routine tune-ups with a professional HVAC tech include checking the refrigerant levels and electrical connections, inspecting the system for any potential issues, and optimizing all the moving parts.
They range from $100 to $200 per visit. Budget for one in the fall, before winter, and in the spring, before the cooling season.
One deep cleaning a year prevents mold from growing in ductless air handlers and ensures that dirt or dust buildup won’t hamper their performance or efficiency. A cleaning costs $100 to $300, depending on the number of indoor units.
As a homeowner, you should clean or replace the air filter each month, just as you would with a traditional forced-air system. Filters usually cost less than $10 each. And, clean around the outside unit to optimize airflow.
Risks of a DIY Heat Pump Installation
It’s tempting to take the DIY route for your heat pump installation, especially once you see the difference between what you can pay online for just the equipment versus what a pro charges.
But, even if you’re handy, there are a lot of risks involved. It’s likely you’ll end up spending much more than you saved upfront. Here’s what can go wrong:
Weak Heating and Cooling
A bad install often results in obstructed airflow, resulting in weaker heating and cooling. The system may be too big or small, or there aren’t enough returns to circulate the air.
If your DIY install is fighting airflow problems, it’s using more electricity to do the work. That means paying more each month without getting the comfort you wanted in the first place.
All that excessive wear and tear means more frequent, costly breakdowns and a shorter lifespan.
Injury or Property Damage
Mold infestation from condensate drain leaks and fires from bad electrical wiring are common risks. With mini splits, an improperly-mounted air handler can fall off the wall and hit someone.
Read the fine print on your system’s warranty. They usually say the unit must be installed by a certified installer. Otherwise, the manufacturer won’t pay for repairs they would otherwise cover.
Heat Pump FAQs
I’ll end this article by addressing a few more frequently-asked installation questions. If you need more information, or want to know about how a system like this can work in your home, use our dealer locator to find a certified HVAC contractor in your area. You’ll get a free consultation to get all the specific answers you need.
How long does it take to install a heat pump?
Installing a single-zone mini split or air-source heat pump in a home with ductwork takes less than a day. Multi-zone mini splits and water-source can take up to a week. Geothermal takes nearly a month.
Why is heat pump installation so expensive?
Heat pump installation gets expensive when the work involves multiple floors, hard-to-access areas, or installing new ductwork. Ground-source models require digging long trenches, which adds a lot to the cost. Finally, any quality HVAC installer charges for their expertise and to cover expenses.
Can you install a heat pump in an existing home?
A heat pump is just as easy to install in a new home as it is for new construction unless the home needs new ductwork installed. Geothermal units require a lot of digging, and water-source models require a body of water nearby.
Learn more about finding the best heat pump installers in State College, PA or anywhere in Pennsylvania, Maryland, Delaware, or New Jersey.