Gas Pack, Packaged AC, or Heat Pump Package Unit, Which is Best for You?
A few weeks ago we published a guide to Package Unit Prices, reviewing the variables of installation costs as they compare to the cost of installed units. It led to many questions from our customers about which type of package unit is right for their home, and how they can compare them to make the best choice.
The best person to answer these question is always your trusted heating and air contractor who has his eyes and hands on your home and your current system. Regardless, we wanted to give you a bit of information to talk with him about in case you need to decide whether a gas pack, packaged air conditioner, or heat pump package unit is right for your home.
In this Home Heating System Guide, we’ll share exactly what we consider when we help decide which is best for a homeowner. If you are going to base your choice solely on cost and pricing, you should always speak to several professionals in your area and get competing quotes on your new package unit. (click here for free quotes)
Package Unit Feature and Cost Comparison
For the purpose of this comparison, we chose a 3-ton package unit to use as a baseline. This is the approximate size package unit that would be used on a 1200-1600 square foot home. Also, to ease the comparison process, we did not factor rooftop or elevated platform installation that require the use of a crane.
|Feature or Comparison Unit||
|Standard Efficiency 13-14 SEER||$1,350||$1,650||
|High Efficiency 15-17 SEER||$1,980||$2,390||
|Heating Efficiency||None||80-90% AFUE||
Up to 9 HSPF
|Heating System Type||Strip Heat||Furnace||HP & Strip Heat|
|Installation Time (for 2-man crew)||2-4 hours||3-5 hours||
|Available Tax Credits||None||None||
|Life Expectancy of Package Unit||12-16 Years||10-15 Years||
|Maintenance Requirements (Suggested by Manufacturers)||Once Yearly||Twice Yearly||
|Annual Maintenance Costs||$90-$180||$150-$300||
|Typical Compressor Warranty||10-15 Years||10-15 Years||10-15 Years|
|Heat Exchanger Warranty||na||10-20 Years||na|
|Replacement Parts Warranty||10-15 Years||10-15 Years||10-15 Years|
* We chose not to estimate the installation cost differences between the different package unit types due to variables controlled by the installers. (installation price comparison) The main difference in the process however, is the connection and inspection process due to the natural gas or propane connection for gas package unit.
** Replacement parts warranties from the manufacturer do not usually include the cost of the labor to install the parts. It is charged separately direct from the installation company.
How to Decide Which is Best for You?
If you need to decide which type of hvac package system you want to have installed, its easiest to look at these main factors.
Do You Already have a Package Unit? – If yes, then move to the next question. If no, then you need to speak to a professional to make sure your existing duct and configuration would even support a packaged hvac unit. In most cases, if you have a split system already, you want to stay with a split system.
Do you have Natural Gas or Propane Service? – If no, then you can’t have a gas pack. If yes, then you want to compare the cost of electricity to the cost of gas/propane. Whichever is the cheapest in your area, would likely be the best choice for your heating source.
Do you rely on heat during the winter, or simply shut off the AC? If you use heat regularly during the winter months, then you would be better off using a heat pump or gas package unit due to its higher efficiency heating options. Packaged air conditioner (that only cool) units are best for areas that rarely to never use any heat.