Choosing the Best Heat Pump Manufacturer: A Pro Guide to Making an Informed Choice
Choosing the best heat pump manufacturer to work with on your project can really make a difference in the long-run.
Most heat pumps last for 15-20 years with the most durable brands reaching 25 years of operation or more. The maintenance, management, support and ownership experience of a heat pump over the years varies from brand to brand, and picking the manufacturer that suits your needs best will make all the difference.
This article doesn’t outline the most energy-efficient heat pump systems, or which brand offers the best heat pumps in the industry. We won’t compare heat pump options in specific. We will look at how you should determine the best heat pump manufacturer for your specific needs.
Heat pump brand reputation
Most well-known brands that have good reviews online are a pretty safe bet. The top brands are typically European, Japanese, Korean and American. This doesn’t mean that there aren’t any great heat pumps made in other countries, but it’s less likely to have trouble down the road with one of these – if they are commonly available in your country.
Each brand may have a reputation for leading a specific type of heat pump product. For instance, Mitsubishi dominates the cold weather heat pump market with their excellent reliability when operating in extremely low temperatures.
Heat pump manufacturer history
How long a manufacturer is in business is important. Heat pumps have been around for many years despite the technology only recently seeing increased adoption. A heat pump manufacturer with a long track record can be a solid choice compared to a relatively new manufacturer whose units have not been around enough to stand the test of time.
While we’re on the subject, TermoPlus has been manufacturing heat pumps for more than 30 years and has contributed to more than €1b in total energy savings to more than 60.000 happy customers. More importantly, many of our first heat pumps are still working even after 30 years.
A note about individual heat pump models
Each heat pump manufacturer has top, mid and lower tier product ranges. Some manufacturers treat these product ranges differently in terms of quality management, while others try to maintain a high standard for all product lines.
Sometimes you can come across a top heat pump manufacturer’s model that was a total disaster. Sometimes you can also come across a specific unit that seems to last for years despite the poor design and quality standards of the manufacturer. These are the exceptions that prove the rule.
To be safe, after you have picked the heat pump brand you want to use, it’s worth looking up individual product reviews online to make sure you don’t end up with a lemon. Going with a reputable brand will save you a lot of hassle 90% of the time.
How and where the heat pump units are manufactured
How do you know if heat pump’s long-term performance will be above average?
A heat pump manufacturer that develops high quality products will use top shelf components.
For instance, Mitsubishi Electric is renowned for their legendary inverter-driven compressors. They have perfected this technology over the years and this is one of the reasons they make the most reliable air-source heat pumps.
Not only does the variable speed compressor match the heating or cooling requirement more precisely (resulting in excellent efficiency), it also reduces the current strain during start-up and produces a more stable temperature.
Copeland scroll compressors are another great example. These have fewer moving parts and exceptional sealing against leakages. They also don’t have any valves – which often fail. This contributes to significantly improved durability and efficiency. They have longer service intervals since they are not so prone to wear and tear. In addition to all of this, they use a high pressure ratio valve which reduces under compression losses, improving COP at high condensing and low evaporating conditions up to 20%. Their heating optimization and the Enhanced Vapor Injection allows efficient operation even in very cold climates.
TermoPlus heat pumps almost exclusively use Mitsubishi inverter-driven compressors for the air-source heat pumps and Copeland scroll compressors for the geothermal and commercial heat pumps.
Aside from the compressor (which is often the key determinant of a heat pump’s lifespan), high quality heat pump manufacturers pay attention to other details too.
Large surface heat exchangers (the evaporator and condenser) mean the heat pump doesn’t get overworked – contributing to a longer lifespan.
Low vibration fans are not only less noisy, they also last longer. Brushless motors in fans also last longer.
The use of Electronic eXpansion Valves (EXVs) not only offers greater efficiency compared to Thermostatic eXpansion Valves (TXVs) but they also don’t get clogged with impurities that can damage them.
Manufacture / Assembly Location
Quality assurance systems, facility conditions and component supply chains vary from country to country. Most importantly, quality control cultures and traditions vary. It is hard to challenge the expectations established over the years for the quality standards of Japanese manufacturers or the innovation and engineering precision of European manufacturers. Of course this is a biased perspective but there is some truth to it.
The country of origin for a particular heat pump unit is certainly a factor to consider. Some Chinese manufacturers for instance, have made great strides in quality and meeting quality standards. However, compared to let’s say a Japanese manufacturer with decades of tradition in quality control and innovation it is hard to dismiss the fact that Japanese heat pump brands are at the top of the quality game, and have been for ages.
Many of the top manufacturers in Europe have a long tradition in innovation and quality management.
Some specific countries have a long-standing history of expertise in producing heat pumps: Japan, the US, South Korea, Germany, Slovenia and Sweden are just some of these.
This also brings us to the next point.
Top-rated heat pump manufacturers by region
Whether your heat pump was built to an excellent standard of quality is pointless unless it is well supported in your region.
To ensure access to spare parts and manufacturer-certified engineers and technicians your best bet is to pick a brand that is well-supported in your country. As the saying goes, when in Rome, do as the Romans do.
The European market is mostly a mix of European brands, with some Japanese and South Korean brands:
Mitsubishi Electric (Japan), LG Electronics (South Korea), Panasonic (Japan), Vaillant (Germany)
NIBE (Sweden), Hitachi (Japan), Samsung (South Korea), Carrier (US), Daikin (Japan), and of course, TermoPlus (Slovenia). Many new manufacturers from China are now exporting to Europe too.
The North American market is mainly saturated with US brands, with a few Japanese and European exceptions:
Carrier (US), Trane (US), Mitsubishi (Japan), Lennox (US), Rheem (US), Bryant (US), York (US), American Standard (US), Goodman (US), Daikin (Japan), Fujitsu (Japan). TermoPlus doesn’t currently have a subsidiary or official sales network in the Americas,
In Asia, the market is almost exclusively dominated by Japanese, South Korean and Chinese brands:
Mitsubishi Electric (Japan), LG Electronics (South Korea), Panasonic (Japan), Toshiba (Japan), Hitachi (Japan), Samsung (South Korea), Daikin (Japan), Gree (China), Midea Group (China), Haier (China). TermoPlus doesn’t currently have a subsidiary or official sales network in Asia.
Air conditioner manufacturers vs heat pump manufacturers
Air conditioners are technically air-to-air heat pumps that (in most cases) can heat and cool. An air conditioning system will capture and transfer heat from the outside in exactly in the same way an air to water heat pump would except that they deliver it through hot or cold air instead of radiators or underfloor heating.
Over the years many air conditioning brands moved into the production of heat pumps. That includes well-established brands such as Mitsubishi Electric, Daikin, Panasonic, Samsung and LG.
Despite lacking product-specific advantages in other heat pump technologies such as large commercial systems or geothermal heat pumps, they produce excellent residential and commercial air-source heat pumps.
Some technological know-how from experience in air-conditioning has transferred into heat pumps. Mitsubishi’s pioneering technological advancements in air-source heat pumps are well known across the industry. So, for air-source heat pumps in specific, choosing a manufacturer that used to be an air conditioner manufacturer in the past should not be considered a disadvantage.
Although at TermoPlus we have been manufacturing air-source and geothermal heat pumps for more than thirty years, we have adopted Mitsubishi’s external units for our air-source range. We only work with these units as we recognize that Mitsubishi is the best heat pump brand for air source heat pump external units – and is by far superior to any other.
The type of heat pump used
Each type of heating and cooling system has manufacturers that stand out in the category. That is because innovation and technological experience are to a large extent product-specific.
Air source heat pumps
There is great variation in product quality in the market for air-source heat pumps as they are the most ubiquitous type of heat pump. There are many manufacturers, many of which are relatively new to the market.
The quality of the manufactured product is a key factor that affects its lifespan. Product lifespans range widely with some lower end brands only lasting 15 or even 10 years and others on the higher end between 25 and even 30 years. The quality of the components used is a good predictor of the product’s lifespan.
Support is generally widespread but varies in responsiveness based on the service provider.
With air-source heat pumps you have more choices to pick from. It is advised that you conduct your own research to pick a manufacturer that suits your needs instead of relying on an installer to recommend the brand they work with. You should, of course, take into consideration any issues pointed out by potential installers.
In any case, it is best to get the heat pump installed by an installer experienced with that specific brand.
Geothermal heat pumps (water and ground source heat pumps)
There are fewer manufacturers of ground and water-source heat pumps as there are also fewer installations. This part of the market is not yet saturated with cheaper, less-reliable products. It is important to consider the experience of the installer with these types of heat pumps as the majority of installers work with air-source units only.
If you have limited choices, it may be best to pick the best installer you can find and go with the brand that they find most suitable – so long as it ticks all the right boxes and the installers are experienced with it.
Industrial / Commercial heat pumps
Commercial heat pumps are more complex to install and you need more experienced engineers to design the system. Especially if you wish to take advantage of applications such as heat capture, large pool heating, district heating, heat pump cascading etc.
With commercial installations you should not only consider the heat pump brand but the design and installation team that will also maintain the system in the future. It is advisable that you consider a few installer proposals and make a decision as you would for a long-term service package.
That said, if you consider working with a TermoPlus heat pump you will also get system design input from our product design engineers and the ability to get a heat pump custom-built for your needs.
Heat pump manufacturer and supplier support for customization
One of the distinct advantages offered by TermoPlus heat pumps is the support we offer for system customization. We offer engineering support directly to installers so that your heat pump installation is optimized for efficiency by design. Even if this is offered by intermediaries instead of the manufacturer directly, it is an important to be able to reach out and get the right support you need to have your installation optimized by expert engineers and HVAC system designers.