Most and Least Reliable Heat Pumps

    The brands that will keep you warm—and cool—all year long

    heat pump system outside of house GettyImages-483954740

    Heat pumps can be one of the most efficient ways to heat—and cool—your home. That’s because rather than generating hot or cold air, they move it from one place to another, depending on the season: During the heating season, a heat pump pulls heat from the outdoor air into your home. And during hot weather, it pulls hot air from your home and expels it outdoors.

    More on Heating

    Because you use a heat pump to both heat and cool your home, you’re running it all year long. That’s a major difference from more traditional central heating or central air conditioning systems. So you’ll definitely want one from a brand with a reliable track record. That point was emphasized by a recent Consumer Reports survey of owners of heat pumps, many of whom reported that when theirs broke, they were without heat for at least an entire day and sometimes two or more.

    We asked our members about their experiences with about 13,000 heat pumps that were installed new between 2005 and 2021 and that were used to heat and cool their homes year-round. Based on our analysis, we determined that, on average, around half of heat pumps are likely to experience a break by the end of the eighth year of ownership, which is about the midpoint of the expected life of the system. Our members said they expect their heat pumps to last a median of 15 years.

    Repair or Replace

    When you compare the cost of repairing a heat pump to the cost of replacing one, there’s little doubt that repairing it (if possible) is the way to go.

    In our 2021 survey, most members (89 percent) who owned a heat pump that broke reported having it repaired. The median cost for those who paid completely out of pocket—meaning the heat pump wasn’t covered by a service plan—was $293. Compare that with the median cost of $7,691 that our members spent to buy and install a new heat pump over the past five years.

    In our most recent survey, almost three-fourths (74 percent) of our members who had their heat pump repaired were left without heat for at least a day and 46 percent for at least two days.

    For more information on heat pumps, including how they work and how to make them more energy-efficient, see our heat pump buying guide.

    Most and Least Reliable Heat Pumps

    We analyzed data from our members on 24 brands of heat pumps from well-known companies such as Trane and Carrier and also from some smaller, lesser-known companies such as Heil and Payne.

    Here’s a detailed breakdown of the winners and losers among heat pump brands. Eight brands earned favorable marks for predicted reliability, and two brands got our top marks for both predicted reliability and owner satisfaction.

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    We investigate, research, and test so you can choose with confidence.