You’re probably thinking, oh my! Why does a heat pump compressor cost so much?
Think of it like this, the compressor is the “core” of your whole heat pump system. Its duty is to pump the refrigerant of your heat pump across the system. Lacking a compressor, you have a lifeless heat pump that cannot supply warm or cool air.
Indeed, replacing a compressor is a costly undertaking. Truth is the price is so excessive that occasionally it makes more economic sense to entirely replace the outside unit (possibly the entire system) rather than replacing the compressor.
4 Factors that Influence the Cost of a Heat Pump Compressor Replacement
Read more about the cost factors of heat pump replacement costs below:
Factor #1: A Single Stage vs. a Two Stage vs. a Variable Speed Compressor
How it influences cost: A two stage compressor costs more than a single stage compressor. And variable speed compressors are more expensive more than both of them.
- Single stage compressors have only one speed: high.
- Two stage compressors have 2 stages: higher for super-hot days and low for more moderate days.
- A variable stage compressor can increase or decrease its conditioning capability depending on the load required at the time.
Simply put, the more speeds a compressor has, the more energy-efficient it is and the more comfort it offers.
Factor #2: SEER & HSPF Ratings
How it influences cost: The higher the SEER (Seasonal Energy Efficiency Ratio) and HSPF (Heating Seasonal Performance Factor) of your current unit, the higher the cost of a suitable compressor.
The SEER and HSPF rating of the heat pump measures how capable the unit is at cooling (SEER) and heating (HSPF). The greater the rating, the more effective the unit is.
Presently, the lowest SEER and HSPF you can purchase are:
- 13 SEER
- 7 HSPF
Factor #3: The Heat Pump Size
How it influences cost: The larger your unit size is, the more costly the compressor.
The size of heat pumps is called “tonnage”. The greater the tonnage, the additional heat your heat pump can push in or out of your home in a certain time frame. Obviously, the size of the compressor needs to be suitable for the tonnage of the heat pump unit.
Factor #4: Cost of Heat Pump Compressor Replacement Labor
How it influences cost: Experienced and certified contractors typically charge more to replace a compressor.
It can take anywhere from 3 to over 6 hours to replace a heat pump compressor. Depending on the contractor you decide on, you will either pay a flat rate or an hourly rate.
With almost any service, contractors that have more experience and certifications typically charge more for their services. But you certainly don’t want to avoid a contractor just because of their higher labor fees. Actually, saving a hundred dollars or so on a lesser experienced contractor could end up costing you thousands of dollars down the road.
Try and get several estimates but don’t just go with the lowest price you find. Do your homework and pick a contractor with a lot of experience, plenty of references and be sure they’re licensed, bonded, and insured.
When Should You Replace the Entire Outside Unit?
Your heat pump compressor is just one component of your entire outside unit (known as the condensing unit). While it’s feasible to just replace the compressor, you also have the option to replace the whole condensing unit— that comes with a new compressor. So when would it make more economic sense to replace the entire unit rather than just the heat pump compressor?
If one or more of the following applies to you:
- The outside unit is more than 10 years old.
- The compressor isn’t under warranty or the warranty’s expired.
- You have needed more repairs on your outdoor unit recently.
- There are some circumstances when it’s more favorable for you to get the compressor, whole condensing unit, and the inside unit (indoor fan unit and evaporator).
These circumstances include:
- When the system is more than 15 years old.
- When you are replacing your outside unit with a greater SEER unit.
- If the system uses R-22 refrigerant. This refrigerant is an out of date, limited supply refrigerant. Upgrading the whole system will enable you to upgrade to the safer, less costly R-410A refrigerant.
- “What Does It Cost to Replace a Heat Pump Compressor?” CoolToday, www.cooltoday.com/blog/what-does-it-cost-to-replace-a-heat-pump-compressor.