Despite what you might read, there’s really not a dramatic difference in the projected lifespans of central air heat pumps, ductless heat pumps, and air conditioners.
Some people seem to think heat pumps have shorter lifespans because they get used during both heating and cooling seasons. Air conditioners primarily only run during the summer, and maybe a bit in the spring and fall in hotter areas. In Maine, if you have an air conditioner, you’re likely only using it for a few months per year at the most. A system that’s hardly used and properly cared for should last longer than a system that’s used for nine months a year for both heating and cooling.
One often overlooked factor in heating and cooling system lifespan, especially for mini-split heat pumps, is maintenance – or the lack of it. Some ductless heat pump owners think of their heat pump as just another home appliance like a TV or refrigerator. You never schedule routine maintenance for those home appliances, so why would you schedule maintenance for your ductless heat pump?
That attitude can lead to decreased lifespans and reduced efficiency. Mini-split heat pumps are not just like any other appliance in your home. They do require maintenance, at least once or even twice a year if used for both heating and cooling. A high-quality, properly maintained heat pump, or ductless mini-split system can operate for 20 years or longer.
Which Heating or Cooling Systems Operate Longest?
If there’s lifespan parity between heat pumps and air conditioners, the longevity award would go to boilers,. Then furnaces are just slightly ahead of ACs and heat pumps. Whether furnaces last longer than air conditioners or heat pumps on average is debatable. Many general estimates for furnace lifespans are in the 20-to-25-year range.
However, these age estimates are made with the assumption that these are properly maintained heating systems. Boilers are particularly vulnerable to leaks in their heat exchangers, which can compromise the boiler decades early. Furnaces also require annual maintenance just like other HVAC systems. Replacing heat exchangers, furnaces, or boilers can be very expensive depending on the fuel it uses, the model, and the size.
Purchasing and installing a furnace or boiler can cost two to four times what you’d spend on a high-quality single-zone ductless heat pump. The risk of early replacement or expensive repairs is why it’s in your best interest to keep up with maintenance, regardless of the type of heating or cooling you use in your home or business.
Whether you’re talking about boilers, furnaces, or ductless heat pumps, estimated system longevity has a lot to do with the overall quality. There are cheaper options for nearly every product made by man. “You get what you pay for,” is especially true when it comes to your heating and cooling systems.
- Cheaper systems likely won’t last as long
- They might have more frequent breakdowns
- They cost more to operate than higher-end systems that were designed with efficiency in mind
- They generally don’t offer the same level of performance as a higher-end heating or cooling system
Whatever you choose for your home or business’s heating or cooling, keep in mind the consequences of purchasing the cheapest model.
SEER ratings are particularly useful for demonstrating this point. A household that spends roughly $1,000 a year running its 14 SEER heat pump might only need to spend $650 a year to get the same cooling performance out of a 20 SEER heat pump.
Approximately $350 of savings per year from a heat pump with a 20-year life expectancy equals $7,000. That might not be that far off from the price of a new system purchase and installation.
It’s easy to look at costs on a short-term basis. Saving $1,000 today might seem preferable to saving $7,000 in 20 years. However, if you do have the financial resources and flexibility to take the longer view, investing in quality and efficiency will pay dividends.
Get a Great Mini-Split Heat Pump
If you want a new, high-quality ductless heat pump for your Bangor-area home or business, give Valley Home Services a call. We only install reliable, high-quality units that boast great performance and efficiency ratings, even during our cold Maine winters.
Call (800) 316-7815 to schedule your free installation estimate.