The versatility of a single system that can heat or cool an entire house is one reason many people consider a home heat pump.
A heat pump is an appealing option for a home cooling or heating system because of its energy efficiency and minimal installation requirements. It can be an alternative or a supplement to central HVAC units and, in many cases, may prove to be more cost-effective when factoring the long-term operating cost with the initial purchase price.
To choose the best heat pump for your home, it’s helpful to understand what it is and why it’s beneficial. Dylan Evans, HVAC Service Manager at Complete Comfort Heating, Air & Plumbing in Greenwood, Indiana, describes a heat pump as “essentially an air conditioner that has a reversing valve on it. This allows it to heat your home in the wintertime and cool your home in the summertime.”
Based on Evans' advice, we researched dozens of home heat pumps, evaluating efficiency, functions, ease of installation, and value.
Note that most heat pump units and systems have several attributes in common. Almost all are compatible with smartphone apps or home speaker assistants; we've indicated which aren't. And most manufacturers strongly recommend professional installation.
Best Whole House
Goodman 3.5 Ton Heat Pump and Air Handler System
Includes heat pump and air handler
Multiple fan speeds improves energy efficiency
Supplemental heat source is add-on
Picking the Goodman 3.5 Ton Heat Pump and Air Handler System provides more control over comfort and humidity levels for your whole house rather than a single space when compared with a ductless heat pump option.
A whole house heat pump consists of two parts: a heat pump installed outdoors, and an air handler installed indoors. The two work together to distribute warm air throughout your house during cold weather or to remove heat and humidity during hot weather. The Goodman 3.5 Ton Heat Pump and Air Handler System is a capable choice for this double-duty job, backed by a 10-year warranty. It has a SEER rating of 14, with a range of 13.6 to 15.5, depending on installation, climate considerations, and usage habits.
This complete heat pump system includes the externally mounted Goodman GSZ140421 Heat Pump Air Conditioner Condenser, which has sound-dampening technology to keep operating noise to a minimum. Since energy efficiency is a hallmark of heat pumps, it’s worth noting that Goodman equips this condenser with refrigeration-grade copper tubing and aluminum fin condenser coils—a combination of materials recognized for outstanding heat transfer properties.
Inside the home, the modular blower ensures that warm or cool air is distributed. The Goodman ARUF43C14 Air Handler Electric Furnace features multiple fan speeds for increased energy efficiency, compared with air handlers with single-speed fans. While this air handler doesn’t include a supplemental heat source for extremely cold conditions, it’s a feature that an HVAC installer can add.
Price at time of publish: $3,288
Dimensions: 35.5 x 35.5 x 39.75 inches | Type: Ducted | Heating BTU: 40,000 | Noise Level: Not listed | Coverage Area: Whole house
Best for Single Space
Pioneer Diamante Series WYT018GLFI19RL Ductless Mini-Split with Inverter Heat Pump
Offers heating, cooling, dehumidifying, and fan-only operation modes
Rated for minus-13 to 122 degrees Fahrenheit
Includes remote control with sensor
Inverter compressor for efficiency and quiet operation
Lacks built-in Wi-Fi
Lacks wall thermostat
What buyers say: 91 percent of 1,200+ Amazon reviewers rate this product four stars or higher.
The Pioneer Diamante Series is an excellent choice for homeowners who are looking for a capable heating and cooling solution for a single living space such as a tiny home, a workshop, a garage, or an addition. (For a whole house solution, see below.) It combines value, efficiency, and versatility into one package. Our recommended 18,000-BTU model for cooling is suitable for spaces up to 650 square feet. (For larger or smaller spaces, there are models with capacities of 9,000 to 36,000 BTU available.)
While some heat pump heating systems give out under extremely cold weather, the manufacturer rates this model for heating functions as low as minus-13 degrees Fahrenheit, and cooling as high as 122 degrees Fahrenheit. This makes it a great option for a heat pump, whether you live in a warm or cold climate.
One of the key reasons to choose a heat pump is its multiple functions. The Pioneer Diamante heats, cools, dehumidifies, or runs in fan-only mode. You control the system using the included remote control, but there is no wall thermostat or Wi-Fi connection. Even without those conveniences, the settings are easy to adjust. Built-in modes include Timer, ECO, Freeze Protection, and Sleep.
Although heat pump manufacturers recommend professional installation, we believe this ductless system has minimal needs. It ships to your door with an outdoor condenser, indoor air handler, remote control, and 16-foot line set, with installation accessories. The Diamante series carries a five-year warranty for the compressor and parts.
Price at time of publish: $1,070
Dimensions: 30.75 x 13.75 x 23.89 inches | Type: Ductless | Heating BTU: 18,000 | Noise Level: 32 dB | Coverage Area: Up to 650 square feet
Senville LETO Series Mini Split Air Conditioner Heat Pump, 9000 BTU 110/120V
Smart features enhance user experience
Heats or cools up to 400 square feet
Lacks wall thermostat
Short warranty coverage period
The Senville Leto Series prioritizes affordability. This budget mini-split system starts at less than $800 for a 9,000-BTU unit that can heat or cool rooms up to 400 square feet. Nor does it skimp on user-friendly features—most notably, Wi-Fi. This means you can adjust the settings using an app on your smartphone or Amazon Alexa. However, it’s not compatible with all smart home assistants, including Google Home.
As a heating system, you can count on the Leto series to function in temperatures as low as 5 degrees. It also offers cooling and dehumidifying functions for making warm weather more comfortable. It carries a 19 SEER energy efficiency rating, which is lower than that of many mini-split systems. But what it lacks in efficiency, it makes up for in value and quiet operation, which is something to appreciate if you’re accustomed to noisy window air conditioning units.
The system includes all major components: an indoor air handler, outdoor condenser, remote control (but no wall thermostat), and an installation kit, with a pre-charged refrigerant line set and communication wire.
A five-year warranty, requiring professional installation, covers the compressor, while other parts are covered for two years. Some other heat pumps have the perk of longer-lasting warranties—between seven and 10 years—but for the lower initial investment cost, the Senville is still a solid choice.
Price at time of publish: $720
Dimensions: 37 x 9 x 12 inches | Type: Ductless | Heating BTU: 9,000 | Noise Level: Not listed | Coverage Area: Up to 400 square feet
MrCool DIY18-HP-230B25 DIY Ductless Mini-Split, 3rd Gen
Pre-charged line set
Competitive SEER rating with other products
Other products rated for lower temps
Instead of being connected to existing ductwork, a ductless heat pump—sometimes referred to as a mini-split system—can be installed on just about any exterior wall. One popular choice is the third-generation DIY Ductless Mini-Split by MrCool. It provides heating and cooling functions in homes with non-ducted heating systems, such as baseboard radiant heat or space heaters. It also can be a cost-effective choice if you’re looking to heat and cool an addition to your home without extending existing central HVAC ductwork.
This Wi-Fi-capable model includes a single-zone outdoor condenser, and an air handler that is mounted inside, on one of your home's exterior walls. A line set, pre-charged with refrigerant, is included to simplify installation. Since it is ductless, it doesn't include a wall thermostat.
The MrCool DIY Ductless Mini-Split is available in different configurations, depending on your heating or cooling needs. Our recommended 18,000-BTU model can cover up to 750 square feet, according to the manufacturer. It heats in temperatures as low as 5 degrees Fahrenheit, so it doesn’t match the performance of other mini-split heating systems, some of which which are rated for as low as 22 degrees below zero.
Still, its simple, effective design makes it a practical choice. It has a 20 SEER rating and is Energy Star certified.
Price at time of publish: $1,859
Dimensions: 33.27 x 14.29 x 27.64 inches | Type: Ductless | Heating BTU: 18,000 | Noise Level: 32 dB | Coverage Area: Up to 750 square feet
MRCOOL Ductless Heat Pump Split System 4th Generation - Wall Mounted
Energy Star certified
Pre-charged refrigerant line requires no special tools
Lines cannot be cut if you have excess length
May still require an electrician
Energy efficiency is one of the foremost reasons to consider a heat pump system. The fourth-generation MrCool Ductless Mini-Split is one of the most energy-efficient heat pumps available. It’s Energy Star certified and has a 22 SEER rating for cooling and an 11.5 heating efficiency rating (HSPF).
MrCool is one of the most recognizable brand names in the heat pump industry for the manufacturer's ease of installation and reliability. We specifically recommend the fourth-generation product line, since it offers increased efficiency compared to previous generators, longer warranty terms, and a stronger electrical conduit for better protection of the cables.
This is a complete single-zone system for heating or cooling up to 500 square feet—somewhat larger than a two-car garage. It includes a 12,000-BTU condenser for outdoor installation, and a 12,000-BTU air handler that mounts on the wall inside your home. (Larger, more powerful models up to 36,000 BTU are available.)
The fourth-generation MrCool Ductless Mini-Split includes a 25-foot line that is pre-charged with R-410A refrigerant and equipped with quick connectors that are compatible with basic home tools, rather than requiring specialized equipment. If a 25-foot quick-connect line is too long for your installation setup, you may be able to order the kit with a 16-foot line option. Otherwise, you’ll have to coil up any excess line behind the outdoor condenser, since the quick-connect line cannot be cut. This is about the only complaint to be found for this reliable, affordable, and energy-efficient heat pump system.
Price at time of publish: $1,888
Dimensions: 16 x 30 x 22 inches | Type: Ductless | Heating BTU: 12,000 | Noise Level: 23.5 dB | Coverage Area: Up to 500 square feet
Best for Cold Climates
Senville SENA-09HF-16 Aura Mini Split Air Conditioner and Heat Pump
Rated as low as minus-22 degrees
28.1 SEER rating
Limited coverage area
Heat pumps are often considered better choices for heating homes in mild-to-moderate climates rather than places where the temperatures commonly plummet. This energy-efficient Senville Aura model stands out as the best option for a heat pump for cold climates. the manufacturer rates it as low as minus-22 degrees Fahrenheit, one of the lowest ambient operating temperatures we've found on popular heat pump models.
At the same time, it offers a cooling function for keeping your space comfortable during warm weather conditions, plus a built-in dehumidifier. It’s equipped with Wi-Fi, giving you control over all functions using the app or Amazon Alexa. However it does not support Google Home.
The Senville Aura uses a high-efficiency inverter that gives this mini-split system a 28.1 SEER rating. This qualifies it for a Tier 3 CEE rating and Energy Star certification. It has a 9,000-BTU compressor and a single air handler for wall-mounted installation.
Keep in mind that it’s best suited for small spaces up to 450 square feet (somewhat larger than a two-car garage), so it’s designed for very cold weather but not very large rooms. If you keep that in mind, this model is a great choice if you need a heat pump for supplemental heating in cold weather and for keeping your space cool in warmer weather.
Price at time of publish: $1,200
Dimensions: 31.69 x 12.99 x 21.81 inches | Type: Ductless | Heating BTU: 9,000 | Noise Level: 23.5 dB | Coverage Area: Up to 400 square feet
Best Floor Mount
Blueridge BMHH12Y23LW S4 SERIES Low Wall Ductless Mini Split System
Rated as low as minus-22 degrees
Airflow reverses for heating and cooling
Includes remote control
No smart features
A floor-mount heat pump is optimized for heating functions. Since hot air rises, this style outputs heat closer to the floor and furniture, where you’re most likely to feel it. But you still want to be comfortable as outdoor temperatures rise, which is why selecting a unit with reversible airflow makes the most sense.
The Blueridge S4 Series is a great choice for a floor mount heat pump, offering reversible airflow and a low-profile, wall-mounted air handler. It’s a good choice if you want to maximize heating benefit, or if a wall-mounted heat pump would be a nuisance or a hazard in rooms with low ceilings.
The air handler of a floor mount heat pump must still be installed on an exterior wall, but it’s designed to be in close proximity to the floor rather than the ceiling, as you find with most other mini split systems. The low wall console of this Blueridge model means warm air is distributed from the front of the air handler, giving you more opportunity to benefit from the heat before it rises toward the ceiling. When you activate the heat pump’s cooling mode, the airflow is reversed, and cool air emerges from the top of the console to displace hot air in the room.
Besides its inherent floor mount advantage, the Blueridge S4 Series is quiet and efficient. The indoor air handler registers sound levels from 37 to 50 decibels, in the range of a quiet library or average home noise. It has a 23 SEER rating and functions in temperatures from minus-22 degrees to 122 degrees.
You get an included remote control, but this model doesn’t have Wi-Fi capabilities.
Price at time of publish: $1,399
Dimensions: 31.69 x 21.81 x 12.99 Inches | Type: Ductless | Heating BTU: 12,000 | Noise Level: 37 dB | Coverage Area: Not listed
Best Multiple Zones
Blueridge Four Zone Ductless Mini-Split Heat Pump System w/ WIFI
Includes four air handler units
Controls each zone separately
Smart features result in greater control and efficiency
Alternatives rated for lower temps
When you combine a heat pump with several mini-split units, you can efficiently heat multiple rooms. For that situation, we recommend the Blueridge Ductless Mini-Split AC System. Its built-in Wi-Fi allows you to control each air handler independently. This means you have four heating zones you can adjust to suit your needs or preferences rather than having to settle on one temperature setting for multiple rooms. With this setup, you may be able to replace or simulate the comfort and climate control of a central HVAC unit, especially if you live in a small home or a condo.
It pairs a 30,000 BTU outdoor condenser with four 9,000 BTU wall-mounted air handlers and operates effectively in temperatures ranging from minus-4 to 118 degrees. At the same time, it’s a very energy efficient choice, with a 21 SEER rating.
The Blueridge Ductless Mini-Split AC System includes some of the latest innovations in HVAC technology. You can make temperature adjustments using the included remote control or on your smartphone. Other handy features include an intelligent sleep mode, to maximize comfort while conserving energy; an automatic defrost mode; and sensors in the remote that enable the unit to redirect air flow and automatically adjust the temperature to optimize the comfort of room occupants.
We have noted that the manual can be obscure in places, since it’s written to accommodate several different models. Once installed, though, you can expect easy, reliable indoor climate control with the help of the Blueridge Ductless Mini-Split AC System.
Price at time of publish: $3,299
Dimensions: 38.625 x 31.175 x 16.8125 inches | Type: Ductless | Heating BTU: 30,000 | Noise Level: Not listed | Coverage Area: Not listed
Best Ceiling Mount
Cooper & Hunter CH-18SPH-230VI Sophia 1.5 Ton Ductless Mini Split Air Conditioner with Heat Pump
Includes wall thermostat
Offers multiple modes
18,000 BTU for heating or cooling
No smart features
While most ductless heat pumps feature wall installation, this isn’t always possible or ideal. If you’re looking for a ceiling mount heat pump for a single space, this efficient model from Cooper & Hunter gets the job done, with a coverage area of 800 feet—about two two-car garages. Part of the Sophia series, we recommend this product because it features a ceiling cassette with 360-degree airflow, and adjustable louvers to direct warm or cool air where you need it most.
A ceiling-mounted heat pump system may put the controls out of reach for most users, but this setup includes a digital wall thermostat and remote. You can manually adjust the system’s multiple operation modes—which include cooling, heating, fan-only, and independent dehumidifying—or take advantage of the 24-hour timer to run a pre-set program. Unfortunately, it doesn’t have Wi-Fi, so you can't use an app or smart home assistant to adjust settings.
The Cooper & Hunter Sophia 1.5 Ton Ductless Mini Split has a SEER range of 18.9 to 21.0 for cooling and 9.0 to 10.5 for heating. Whether you’re considering this model as a cooling or heating system, it offers up to 18,000 BTU.
Price at time of publish: $1,638
Dimensions: 27.6 x 33.3 x 14.3 inches | Type: Ductless | Heating BTU: 18,000 | Noise Level: 30 dB | Coverage Area: Up to 800 square feet
The Goodman 3.5 Ton Heat Pump and Air Handler System is our choice for a whole-house system, which provides greater control over comfort and humidity levels for your whole house. For the most affordable heat pump, it’s hard to beat the value of the Senville Leto Series Mini Split Air Conditioner and Heat Pump. This ductless model costs less than $1,000 for a 9,000-BTU unit but includes desirable features such as Wi-Fi connectivity and quiet operation.
What to Look for in a Heat Pump
Heat pumps are classified by how they collect heat. The three main types are air-to-air, water, and geothermal. In the United States, air-to-air heat pumps are most common for residential use.
Within the air-to-air type of heat pump, you find two different subtypes: ducted and ductless. This refers to how the heat pump delivers air inside your home. A ducted heat pump connects to existing ductwork, while the ductless type, also known as a "mini-split system," transfers air from the outdoor compressor to an air handler mounted inside the home.
Size and Output Capacity
The size of a heat pump doesn’t refer to its dimensions but instead is listed in tons. The size is directly related to its BTU output capacity, which determines its ability to heat or cool your home. Our consulted expert, Dylan Evans, HVAC Service Manager at Complete Comfort Heating, Air & Plumbing in Greenwood, Indiana, provides this simple rule of thumb for calculating output capacity based on heat pump size. “There are 12,000 BTUs per ton," he says. "So if you have a 2-ton heat pump, it has the capacity to produce 24,000 BTUs of heating or cooling.”
The compressor is a key component within a heat pump and has a large impact on the efficiency of the cooling and heating system. Some of the most common compressors used for heat pumps, in order of the most efficient to the least, are: inverter, scroll, and reciprocating.
Inverter compressors are highly energy efficient and very quiet. Scroll compressors are very durable and long-lasting, due to fewer moving parts than reciprocating compressors. Reciprocating compressors typically are the least expensive while still offering durability, but they tend to be louder than other types of compressors.
A heat pump's efficiency relates to how well it can transfer heat from the air, for heating or cooling. When it comes to cooling, the Seasonal Energy Efficiency Ratio (SEER) is a key metric to determine how efficiently the heat pump operates during cooling season. It’s also a key metric for central air conditioning systems, so it’s a logical way to compare the efficiency of these two home cooling systems. Energy Star standards require a heat pump to have a 15.2 or better SEER rating.
Another metric specifically associated with heat pumps is the Heat Seasonal Performance Factor (HSPF). It represents the efficiency of a heat pump system during the heating season. The higher the number, the more efficient the heat pump is as a home heating system. (A heat pump system's HSPF must be greater than 8.1.)
Heat pumps have most often been used in areas with mild to moderate climates. However, advances in heat pump technology mean that these heating systems can be used in cold climates as well. To find out whether a particular heat pump system is well suited for your average temperature conditions, look for the ambient outdoor temperature range.
Heat pumps work very well for cooling functions in temperatures as high as 115 degrees Fahrenheit or higher. To use as a heating system, you need to look more carefully at the temperature range. Some heat pumps, such as the Senville Aura Mini Split Air Conditioner and Heat Pump, function in temperatures as low as minus-22 degrees, while other heat pump heating systems will work only in temperatures above 5 degrees. Keep in mind that lower temperatures may reduce the heat pump’s heating abilities. In very cold climates, some heat pump systems are equipped with supplemental electric strip heaters to offset reduced heating performance.
Generally, most heat pump systems emit minimal noise. The compressor generates the loudest noise levels, but it is installed outside the home. Most in-home noise comes from the air handler. Most heat pumps have a decibel rating somewhere between 30 and 60, which is similar to the noise levels of a whisper and normal conversation. For example, our choice for the best floor mount heat pump, the Blueridge S4 Series Ductless Mini Split System, keeps noise levels between 37 and 50 decibels.
A heat pump system's installation requirements vary, depending on the type of unit. In general, ductless heat pumps have simpler installation requirements than ducted systems, since they don’t integrate into your home’s ductwork. Both types require installing an outdoor compressor and at least one indoor air handler, along with a line set charged with refrigerant.
While some heat pumps are more feasible to install as DIY projects, most manufacturers recommend professional installation, and they may even require it for warranty purposes.
The price of a heat pump system varies by type, output capacity, compressor type, and other features. A high-capacity ducted heat pump system intended to heat and cool an entire house costs more than a ductless mini-split system designed to regulate the temperature in a single zone. You can expect to pay $3,000 or more for a whole-house system, while a mini-split system may cost under $1,000.
What is a heat pump?
Rather than generate heat, a heat pump transfers heat from one space to another using electricity. To heat your home, it moves heat from the outside air to inside your home. To cool, the heat pump does the opposite, moving heat from the air inside your home to the outdoors.
From a mechanical perspective, a heat pump uses a compressor along with indoor and outdoor coils and a refrigerant line to transfer heat from warmer to cooler spaces.
What is better, a heat pump or central air?
The answer depends on many factors specific to your home, climate, and temperature preferences. However, many HVAC professionals favor a heat pump over a central air conditioning system. The reason is that the heat pump offers cooling and heating functions with a high level of efficiency. “A heat pump is always the better option, in my opinion,” our HVAC consultant, Dylan Edwards, says flatly. And for climates where heating functions are important as well, he adds, “A dual fuel system (heat pump plus furnace) is one of the more efficient routes you can go when designing a system for your home.”
Do you need a heat pump if you have AC?
You may not need a heat pump if you have AC, but adding the system can improve efficiency for home heating. “While you don’t need a heat pump if you have AC," Dylan Evans says, "we do recommend upgrading to one. Having it as a source of heat in the home helps make your system run as efficiently as possible.” This is because the heat pump doesn't generate heat, as with an electric furnace, but transfers it.
What houses are suitable for heat pumps?
A heat pump can be installed in most houses, but the type of system and its efficiency may vary, depending on specific aspects of your home’s condition and the climate. The fact that heat pump systems are designed for both ducted and ductless installation improves the versatility of this type of home heating and cooling system.
Heat pumps are very popular for heating small houses or additions that don’t have existing ductwork. But heat pumps' efficiency has made them appealing to homeowners of larger houses, as well. In this instance, a whole house heat pump can prove to be the most practical choice.
Why Trust The Spruce?
This article was researched and written by Erica Puisis, a writer and product tester who specializes in large and small home appliances, as well as home improvement features and fixtures. Erica has been writing for The Spruce since 2017 about everything from home saunas and infrared heaters to tankless water heaters. To find the best options for home heat pumps, she compared the type, installation requirements, and energy efficiency of each model. She also considered user-friendly features such as a digital controls, an included remote control, and Wi-Fi compatibility.
To gain more insight, Erica also interviewed Dylan Evans, HVAC Service Manager at Complete Comfort Heating, Air & Plumbing in Greenwood, Indiana. Evans commented on the advantages and efficiency of heat pump systems and how they function.