Lennox Vs. Trane Vs. Carrier Heat Pumps: Which brand is best?

The major heat pump manufacturers all make lines of heat pumps with comparable specifications. The specifications for HSPF (heating efficiency),  SEER (cooling efficiency), noise levels, and warranty duration are very similar when comparing models within each class. This is probably due to the fact that the different brands often use the same components.

 

Overall, Carrier and Lennox units tend to have very similar efficiency ratings (Carrier units usually have slightly higher heating ratings but slightly lower cooling ratings). In terms of published specifications, Trane systems fare the worst, having lower efficiency ratings and higher noise levels than competing models.

 

The HSPF & SEER ratings are measured by the AHRI, an unbiased organization.  The noise levels are measured by the manufacturers, so the differences here might be due to different testing procedures rather than real differences.

 

If noise levels are a major concern, we invite you to visit our Surrey showroom, where you can see the Lennox XP17 in operation, which is advertised as the quietest heat pump on the market.  The noise levels are rarely a concern except when installed in a bad location or when dealing with strict strata councils.

 

 

Comparing the systems

 

Each manufacturer makes a range of heat pumps, with the more expensive models generally having higher efficiency ratings and lower noise levels. Comparable units from each manufacturer are arranged side by side.

 

LennoxCarrierTrane
XP21 (2 stage)
9.70 HSPF, 19.20 SEER
67 dB Sound Rating
10 year warranty on functional components
25HNA9/B9 (2 stage)
10.0 HSPF, 19.00 SEER
69 dB Sound Rating
10 year warranty on functional components
XL20i (2 stage)
9.0 HSPF, 17.90 SEER
74 dB Sound Rating
12 year compressor warranty
10 year warranty on other parts
XP17 (1 stage)
9.50 HSPF, 17.70 SEER
62 dB Sound Rating
10 year warranty on functional components
25HNB6/A6 (2 stage)
9.75 HSPF, 17.00 SEER
69 dB Sound Rating
10 year warranty on functional components
XL16i (1 stage)
9.2 HSPF, 17.00 SEER
74 dB Sound Rating
12 year compressor warranty
10 year warranty on other parts
XP16 (1 stage)
8.70 HSPF, 16.50 SEER
74 dB Sound Rating
10 year warranty on functional components
25HNB5/PA5 (1 stage)
9.0 HSPF, 16.00 SEER
68 dB Sound Rating
10 year warranty on functional components
XL15i (1 stage)
9.0 HSPF, 16.00 SEER
74 dB Sound Rating
12 year compressor warranty
10 year warranty on other parts
25HCB6 (2 stage)
9.5 HSPF, 16.50 SEER
70 dB Sound Rating
10 year warranty on functional components
XR16 (2 stage)
9.5 HSPF, 18.00 SEER
73 dB Sound Rating
10 year warranty on functional components
XP14 (1 stage)
9.50 HSPF, 16.50 SEER
71 dB Sound Rating
10 year warranty on functional components
XR15 (1 stage)
9.0 HSPF, 16.50 SEER
75 dB Sound Rating
10 year warranty on functional components
XP13 (1 stage)
8.70 HSPF, 14.50 SEER
74 dB Sound Rating
10 year warranty on functional components
XB14 (1 stage)
8.5 HSPF, 15.00 SEER
78 dB Sound Rating
10 year warranty on functional components
14 HPX (1 stage)
7.70+ HSPF, 14.00+ SEER
76 dB Sound Rating
10 year warranty on functional components
25HCB3/C5 (1 stage)
9.0 HSPF, 16.00 SEER
69 dB Sound Rating
10 year warranty on functional components
XR13 (1 stage)
8.5 HSPF, 14.00+ SEER
76 dB Sound Rating
10 year warranty on functional components
13HPX (1 stage)
7.70+ HSPF, 13.00+ SEER
62 dB Sound Rating
10 year warranty on functional components
25HBC3/C5 (1 stage)
9.0 HSPF, 16.00 SEER
69 dB Sound Rating
10 year warranty on functional components
XB13 (1 stage)
8.5 HSPF, 13.00+ SEER
78 dB Sound Rating
10 year warranty on functional components

 

Each model is available in several different sizes, usually ranging from 24,000 to 60,000 BTU. Generally, the smaller sizes are quieter and more efficient than the larger sizes. For ease of comparison, the best rating (among all sizes) is listed for the HSPF, SEER, and noise levels.

 

The warranty terms listed here apply when the system is properly registered by a qualifying dealer. Some systems may include shorter warranties depending on the dealer and whether or not the system is registered properly.

 

 

Carrier Greenspeed

Carrier recently introduced their Greenspeed lines of inverter heat pumps, which are about 30% more efficient than other air source heat pumps, and maintains their heating capacity down to much lower temperature. However, we’re still waiting to see how reliable these units are. We currently install the Mitsubishi Zuba inverter heat pump, which has been in production much longer, and offers similar low-temperature performance.

 

 

Importance of a quality installation

 

In a recent report, Consumer Reports found that “28 percent of the builder-installed units failed compared with 18 percent for owner-installed systems.” (Note systems “installed by homeowners” refers to homeowners who hired a heating & AC contractor, not to homeowners who performed the installation themselves.) This shows the type of installer chosen can increase breakdowns by more than 50%.

 

Aa UK study by the energy saving trust measured the real world efficiency levels of 28 heat pumps. They found that only 4 of the systems performed near their potential efficiency, and several of them were operating less than half as efficiently as they should have been. So installation quality can more than double the performance of a heat pump. This suggests that choosing a contractor that performs quality installations is much more important than which brand you choose.

 

 

UK Heat Pump Efficiency Study: Only 4 of 28 heat pumps were classified as “well performing.” The rest suffered significantly due to poor installation quality. Several of the heat pumps were operating at less than half of their potential efficiency. This suggests selecting a quality installer is more important than brand selection.


These results suggest that while some brands may be slightly more efficient or reliable than others, choosing a poor company to install your system can increase breakdowns by more than 50% or decrease efficiency by more than half. In general, choosing a good installer seems much more important than brand selection.

 

To learn more about your heat pump installation options, visit our heat pumps page.

 

To schedule a free quote on a new heat pump, call 604 GOOD GUY (604 466 3489) or use our online form.

Air Source vs. Geothermal Heat Pumps: Comparing efficiencies

It used to be considered “common knowledge” that geothermal (or ground source) heat pumps are a lot more efficient than air source heat pumps.  During the winter,  temperatures are a lot higher under the ground than they are in the air, which means a geothermal system should be able to extract heat much more efficiently. The opposite will be true in the summer- a geothermal system should be able to move heat into the cooler ground more easily than an air source unit can expel it into the warmer outdoor air. However, you also have to remember that a geothermal system has to pump a heat transfer fluid (usually a mixture of water and antifreeze)  through the ground, and running this pump can take a lot of energy. Recently, “cold climate” air source heat pumps that specialize in extracting heat from cold winter air have been released. This has caused some to question whether geothermal systems are really much more efficient.

 

 

Comparing the efficiency ratings of geothermal and air source heat pumps

 

Geothermal heat pumps are given a COP (coefficient of performance) rating. This is the ratio of heat energy produced to the amount of electricity consumed. For example, a system with a COP of 4.0 is estimated to produce 4 watt-hours of heat for every watt-hour of electricity it consumes.

 

Air source heat pumps are given a Heating Seasonal Performance Factor rating, which is an estimate of the BTU’s of heat  that will be produced by each watt-hour of electricity. Different HSPF ratings are given for different regions, as the efficiency of an air source heat pump is highly dependent on the climate. The average COP (across all temperatures) of an air source heat pump can be roughly estimated by dividing the HSPF by 3.41 (the number of BTUs in a watt-hour). Note that the HSPF also takes into account the need for back-up heat (it assumes an electric furnace with a COP of 1 is being used on very cold days). Some manufactuters publish tables of the COPs their systems achieve at various temperatures, but others do not.

 

 

The pump reduces the efficiency of a geothermal heat pump

 

The COP (coefficient of performance) numbers that are published by geothermal heat pump manufacturers do not account for the electricity required to run the pump, as this will vary from case to case. However, this can be a substantial amount of energy. In an article on Green Building Advisor, energy consultant Henry Gifford estimates that pump usage will cause a typical geothermal system’s COP to drop from 3.5-4 down to less than 3.0- a level that can be achieved by many air source systems.

 

 

New air source systems deliver much higher COPs at lower temperatures

 

Until recently, air source heat pumps were just moderately modified central air conditioners. They were primarily engineered for maximum cooling efficiency. But now “cold climate” air source heat pumps are being released. Mitsubishi has been a leader in this regard, and their Zuba central heat pump maintains most of its heating capacity and efficiency down to -25C. Carrier recently released their Greenspeed heat pump which is rated at 13 HSPF, meaning it offers superior efficiency levels than many geothermal systems. Other manufacturers are expected to follow.

 

 

Are geothermal systems worth the extra expense?

 

Installing a geothermal system usually costs at least $20,000 more than an air source unit- and that doesn’t include the cost of repairing your lawn after it is dug up. With geothermal systems offering marginal or even no energy savings over cheaper air source units, we don’t feel they are suitable for many homes.

 

 

Real word performance comparison: UK study

 

A study done in the UK by the Energy Saving Trust measured the real world performance of 28 air source heat pumps and 53 geothermal systems. Although the geothermal systems performed slightly better on average, note that the best performing geothermal systems had similar performance to the best performing air source units. The wide range in performance within each category highlights the importance of a quality installation.

 

UK study on real world heat pump efficiencies: The geothermal systems did slightly better on average, but the best performing air source systems performed just as well as the best performing geothermal systems.

 

 

Learn more about air source heat pumps on our heat pumps page.

 

 

To schedule a free quote on an air source heat pump, call 604 GOOD GUY (604 466 3489), or use our online form.

Bosch Vs. Navien Vs. Rinnai Tankless Water Heaters: Who makes the best tankless water heater?

Deciding which brand of tankless water heater to install can be a difficult decision, as there are no consumer publications that provide brand recommendations and seemingly no sources of unbiased reviews. Hiring an established contractor that guarantees their work remains the best way to ensure you get a quality unit, as such a contractor will only install units that have a good reputation within the industry and have worked well for them in the past.

 

 

Bosch

 

Bosch offers a fairly complete line of tankless warer heaters. Their models have efficiency rating of 78-95%, and heating capacities of 75,000-225,000 BTUs. The larger units are capable of supplying 2 showers simultaneously. All systems include a 15 year heat exchanger warranty and a 2-5 year warrranty on other parts, depending on the model. We mainly install Bosch  tankless systems  when the homeowner does not wish to install a condensing (more efficient and expensive) model. We have been installing them for over 10 years and find them to be very dependable when installed correctly.

 

Rinnai

 

Rinnai also offers a complete range of tankless water heaters. Their systems range in efficiency from 82-98% efficiency, and have capacities of  120,000 to 199,000 BTUs.  They claim their 199,000 BTU high efficiency model can supply up to 4 simultaneous showers, but we think this might be an overly optimistic claim (probably referring to  light showers on a warmer day). Their 10-12 year heat exchanger warranties are shorter than Bosch’s, but all other parts are covered for 5 years for all models. We mainly install Rinnais when the homeowner wishes to replace an existing furnace and hot water tank with a tankless water heater and attached hydronic air handler. This is usually done when a new high efficiency furnace will be too difficult to install. Since we still have mid efficiency furnaces in stock, we don’t do this very often right now. However, we expect it to become a more popular option in the future.

 

 

Navien

 

Navien introduced the first condensing tankless water heater (“condensing” means “high efficiency” or over 90% efficient), and they currently make the most efficient systems on the market, with verified efficiency levels as high as 97%. Their heat exchangers are made from durable stainless steel and are warrantied for 15 years. Other parts are warrantied for 5 years. We usually install Naviens when  a homeowner requires a very efficient high capacity system.

 

 

Tank or Tankless

Tankless systems offer advantages such as lower energy costs, an unlimited supply of hot water, and  longer system life. But they are also much more expensive to install.

 

To learn more about the advantages and disadvantages of tankless water heaters, visit our water heaters page.

 

To schedule a quote on a tankless water heater, call 604 GOOD GUY (604 466 3489) or use our online form.