Life expectancy of AC vs heat pump

roflolSeptember 20, 2007

Getting bids on replacing 15-year-old AC/gas furnace. HVAC repairman brother installed old system, requests I buy something with a good warranty and then call him when the warranty runs out (I think I overworked him these past couple of years). He recommends Trane. Have had three bids so far, not going to get into prices, but I make my money squeal so will research this to death before deciding.

Question du jour is this: What would you expect the life expectancy to be of a Trane heat pump/gas furnace combo versus a Trane AC/gas furnace combo... some numbers I can recall (estimate is upstairs) 13 SEER, 100K BTU 80%. I didn't ask the first two bidders regarding how long the difference systems would be expected to last, but did the last one (because the heat pump seems to be out of my budget - we *really* do not like going into debt) and he estimates life of AC/furnace is approx 25 years if properly maintained, and heat pump/furnace more like 12 since the heat pump runs year round.

BTW - He is a Trane dealer and bought a heat pump this past spring for his own home, but admits he got a great deal that I cannot.

I'm in Kansas City, MO, if that means anything... we're not known for any specific kind of weather, though.



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I think you would have to adjust the 50/50 ratio of the heat pump to fit your local climate

If you use the A/C for 3 months out of the year but would use the heat pump for 6 months then the heat pump probably isn't going to last half as long as a similar A/C only system

If on the other hand, your climate is like ours where we run the A/C about 7 months out of the year and the heat for only about 3 months, then the heat pump won't wear out nearly as fast


    Bookmark   September 20, 2007 at 10:20PM
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From what I was told, the heat pump would be used a good 9+ months of the year for either heating or cooling. And of those, there are maybe 2 months where the temp goes below 28 where the helper furnace would be employed. So I think it would be cooling 4+ months (June-Sept) and heating 5+ months (Nov-Mar). Some years may vary.

There are many days in spring and fall where the temperature is good enough to not run anything, but my 6-year-old developed seasonal allergies last spring so open windows is not always an option.

Does that info help formation of opinions?

    Bookmark   September 20, 2007 at 10:57PM
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"...because the heat pump seems to be out of my budget..."

- A heat pump should only be a few hundred dollars more than a sraight a/c system. It's just an a/c system with a reversing valve.

"...he estimates life of AC/furnace is approx 25 years if properly maintained.."

- With todays thin-gage metal and manufacturer's philosophy of "reduce manufacturing and labor costs to make more profit", I would be surprised if anything lasts 25 years especially the a/c system.

    Bookmark   September 21, 2007 at 8:27AM
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also, keep in mind that a HP will be cheaper to use for heat than a conventional furnace in many areas. i am waiting to see how much difference mine makes this year, i already have seen a better than 30% drop in my electric bill each month just from changing to a new HP over the 30+ year old system i had.

if you are really looking to save money, look at total cost of ownership. it may cost a little more up front, but the recurring savings down the road will more than make up for it.

    Bookmark   September 21, 2007 at 12:06PM
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Today's bidder has pretty much talked me out of Trane heat pump, although he wears their shirt, sells them and owns one. He states he replaces Trane heat pumps on average at 7 years old, a bit outside of the current 5-year warranty. This discussion was after I specifically requested bids on all-Trane units, and he did not try to sell me anything else, but when I asked *him* about longevity he spoke honestly. He then discussed Amana because of their current warranty and I requested bids on their stuff which came in $300 lower. Their warranty is what I think my brother thought Trane's was (and maybe it was last year)- 10 years bumper to bumper (14 SEER). Trane's is now 1 year labor, 5 ltd parts, 5 compressor and 20 heat exchanger for the 13 SEER, unless you buy an extended.

Re the few hundred $$ difference in bids between AC and heat pump: When I started getting bids on AC *and* heat pump, the difference range was between $700 and $1000... could be other reasons besides the equipment.

At any rate, math isn't my bag... but it seems that if a heat pump runs all year so on average will last half as long, I will have to buy two of them versus one AC and the AC costs less. Will I save $5500 in energy costs in 5 years? I realize I *may* end up with one of those heat pumps that lasts 20 years... but I know my luck, and I probably won't.

Today's bidder also told me that Amana and Goodman are essentially the same, and since my last AC was a Goodman and I was satisfied with it, I will probably go with an Amana.

But we're not in a rush and still open to options.

    Bookmark   September 21, 2007 at 2:02PM
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"He states he replaces Trane heat pumps on average at 7 years old, a bit outside of the current 5-year warranty"

If this is true, those heat pumps were installed incorrectly in the first place to cause pre-mature failure. My old Trane, installed in 1986, lasted 21 years until I replaced it due to inefficiency. 12 to 15 years on a heat pump is typical.

Trane's warranties depend on the model#. The XB-13 has a 5 year warranty on compressor and outdoor coil, the XR-13 has a 10 year warranty on these items.

Goodman's warranty is 10 years, parts only, no labor, to the original owner of the house. Goodman should be your least expensive manufacturer by $1500 easy.

If you go with Goodman, go with the 14 SEER as it has a Copeland scroll compressor in lieu of the reciprocating compressor. Make sure that you get the optional thermo-static expansion valve (TXV) that gets mounted external to the air handler. The TXV ensures proper refrigerant flow to the evaporator coil under all cooling conditions. The TXV costs about $55 and does NOT come standard with the air handler. The use of a TXV requires a hard-start capacitor installed in the condenser (outside unit), a $20 item.

    Bookmark   September 21, 2007 at 2:33PM
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I hadn't planned on going with Goodman, Goodman is what my brother installed 15 years ago because it was low-price and good enough, and I didn't need the labor warranty then... I would like one now so am looking at Amana.

Are there any other manufacturers offering builder-grade or just up from builder grade units (I don't have a mansion)- either heat pump or straight AC - that are offering a 10-year warranty on parts *and* labor, and if so would the pros recommend them? Why, or why not?

And still have not gotten enough opinions on life expectancy of heat pump versus straight AC. Garyg, your page lists you in Maryland. I'll admit, I've *always* thought the Northeast was a lot colder than here in the midwest but I'm always surprised by the growing zones posted on the seed exchange. With that in mind, are our zones different enough to make a difference in typical life expectancy of a heat pump? Just a thought.

    Bookmark   September 21, 2007 at 3:00PM
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I'd think if Tranes lasted only 7 years their reputation would have suffered by now. Maybe he is consistently installing them incorrectly? Our is currently 20 years old and I will replace with another trane. They may not mae them like they used to but I have to believe they go longer than 7 years. Note: they sell a 10 year bumper to bumper warranty on the Trane as well...about $650.

    Bookmark   September 21, 2007 at 3:32PM
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Will I save $5500 in energy costs in 5 years?

well, in my case i will. i am saving roughly 125-150 a MONTH just by changing to a new unit. once i change out the other system at my house, i expect my bill to drop an additional 75-100.00 a month. but just with this 1 new XL14i my savings will be around 1500 or so per year, so in 5 years the system will PAY FOR ITSELF.

of course, my old unit was 30 years old too. the second unit is about 15 years old, so it too uses way too much juice for my liking.

BTW, my old units had(have) electric strip heat. i am betting that my winter savings will be MUCH more than my summer savings were.

    Bookmark   September 21, 2007 at 3:45PM
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...he didn't say he was replacing ones *he* installed specifically, so I can't draw any conclusions there. Sometimes it's just luck of the draw whether you got a good one installed or a lemon.

I don't want to buy a separate warranty if I don't have to... if a company believes in their product they'll stand behind it, or they won't.... or they'll include the warranty price into the cost and keep their mouth shut if they want me to buy it. lol. Apparently Amana's including theirs in the price of the system this fall. Anybody else?

lol, davidandkasie. I wouldn't mind saving $125-150 a month, the utilities would be paying me a bit once in a while. We don't have a large home.

    Bookmark   September 21, 2007 at 3:56PM
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While we are talking about older equipment, anyone know the Heat rating of a 20 year old Trane weathertron. The new one I am looking at is a 8.2 I think. What the 20 year old model rate.

(I am not talking about SEER, that a 7 and now a 14---somehow I do not think the heating savings are going to be anywhere near as much as cooling.)

    Bookmark   September 21, 2007 at 3:56PM
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Well, 10 years peice of mind for $650 is worth it ot me. Funny thing, I was looking at the Trane Sister unit, the American Standard this past spring. Same beastie. They had a promotion at the time giving away a 10 year bumper to bumper warranty. When I got my Trane estimate no such promotion was in effect; just a $100 rebate. Still I had them work the 10 year warranty into their quote. It was almost exactly the same as the American Standard quote.

The point is, one way or another, you are paying for whatever warranty you get. Good luck.

    Bookmark   September 21, 2007 at 4:50PM
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Most of my brain understands exactly, andre. But the wee bit of Scot in me screams at paying a penny more than cost. ;-) However, I'm a lousy haggler (I fail at garage sales) and I had never considered something like this hagglable. I just want their lowest price to be what I want to pay and with my terms, and it's just not there yet. lol.

And the reason for getting my bids now is that I don't technically need it yet... and although the bidders don't really need *me* yet, perhaps in a month or perhaps two they'll be hungrier and more willing to work within my tight-fisted budget. That's the plan, anyway... and thank you, I will be needing that luck. ;-)


    Bookmark   September 21, 2007 at 5:08PM
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