# Thread: Life expectancy of a heat pump

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## Life expectancy of a heat pump

I am curious to know what the life expectancy of a heat pump when compared to the same AC only unit. Does running the condenser during both the summer and winter months versus summer season only shorten the useful life? If the life is reduced, then by how much?

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Yes. Depends on the brand.

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It does depend somewhat on the brand but, generally, the numbers I've heard from the older R22 units was 14 years on the HP and 22 years on straight AC.
These are averages. Haven't seen anything on R410 units. Many variables involved regarding life expectancy.

4. ## How long can it be?

1. manufacture quailty
2. install quality
3. clean consistent power
4. component failures
5. mechanical wear
6. electrical wear
7. beyond economical repair
8. Units demise

All of these factors are part of the forumla on how long it lasts.

Some would add carma or luck [LIFE IS A CRAPSHOOT] to it too!!

5. The life expectancy will be less, how much depends on a lot of factors. Installation, sizing, location, maintenance, quality of equipment etc.

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Let's remove as many variables as possible to see if we can narrow down to an reasonable estimate.

Suppose a homeowner was getting a quote on a new gas furnace and and AC condenser installation. The contractor proposes for some additional cost, the AC could be upgraded to a heat pump in order to create a dual fuel system. The homeowner wants to calculate his return on investment on the additional cost of the heat pump when compared to his potential fuel savings.

Question:
Given everything is equal between the AC and heat pump are equal (brand, features, installation, maintenance, etc.), how can the homeowner estimate when the heat pump will have to be replaced versus an AC unit? Depending on the answer, he may conclude the total cost of the heat pump (upgrade, maintenance, and future replacement) will not be offset by fuel savings during the lifetime of the heat pump.

7. In my area the difference is usually about 5 years.

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Originally Posted by kb3ca
It does depend somewhat on the brand but, generally, the numbers I've heard from the older R22 units was 14 years on the HP and 22 years on straight AC.
These are averages. Haven't seen anything on R410 units. Many variables involved regarding life expectancy.
You gotta watch out. How many times do you hear? On my last house my unit lasted 25 years. But that was 7 years ago when you replaced it. In the late 70's, everything was different than now. We didn't have computers worth a crap or cellphones. So you're trying to compare apples to grapes. The answer to the question is however long they last until they die. My experience leads me to believe that if you get 10 years out of anything, you're doing good. At that point, parts are hard to get and/or obsolete and ridiculously expensive. 2 repairs and you just bought a new piece of equipment. They are kinda like cars.

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Originally Posted by Kevin O'Neill
In my area the difference is usually about 5 years.

That is a significant number of years especially when you consider the Myrtle Beach winters are not very harsh.

10. Originally Posted by mike_home
I am curious to know what the life expectancy of a heat pump when compared to the same AC only unit. Does running the condenser during both the summer and winter months versus summer season only shorten the useful life? If the life is reduced, then by how much?
The system will be much less tolerant of indoor coil leak. A small leak that may get by for a while on indoor coil will leak at much higher rate during winter, because the indoor coil becomes the condenser (high side).

There are more parts to fail. Reversing valve is expensive to replace and it is operated every time the system goes to defrost mode. The outdoor fan runs longer and it is cycled much more often due to defrost cycle.

Repairs involving the refrigerant loop, like coil leaks and reversing valves are costly.

Of course, corrosive atmosphere such as industrial or coastal areas affect the life too.

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When I lived inland, I had heat pump systems that averaged 15 to 17 years and were still running. These were units that were well kept, designed, and installed.
Here at the beach, I see units that are not maintained, not installed properly, and the design is usually a "wet finger waved in the air and call it a three ton." They average 5-7 years, with a properly designed, and installed system making it 10. Air handlers and gas furnaces in garages here only make it 10 years. Rust and corrosion, are the biggest culprits.

12. We are in N.E. Ohio and there are plenty of HP in the 15-18 year range still pumpin' away. Of course, your results may vary. Given all things being equal and the same identical equipment installed by the same installer with the moon and stars aligned the exact same way, still can't really say, I could guess, but then it would be just that, too many variables. It will ultimately come down to run time and under what conditions those run times exist in.

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I think this is a very interesting question and one I had not considered when deciding between a HP and straight A/C condenser. I ultimately decided against the HP, but mostly because of my very cold climate and favorable NG prices.

But, just as an economic exercise, let's consider one possible scenario. Now, I plan to include costs, but they are not actual costs, just guesstimates for the purpose of generally comparing the economics of both systems. If this is not allowed, please delete my post.

Let's say an average A/C lasts 20-years and an average HP lasts 15-years. Let's assume that the installed cost of the HP is \$1000 more than the straight A/C, say \$4000 vs. \$3000.

Then, the cost per installed year for the HP would be \$4000/15 = \$266/year

The installed cost of the A/C would be \$3000/20 = \$150/year

If you invested the extra \$1000 from the A/C at 4%/year, it would earn \$40/year.

Therefore the difference per year between the two systems would be \$266 - \$150 + \$40 = \$156/year. So, you would need save at least \$150/year in energy costs to offset the additional expense and lack of longevity in an HP system in this scenario.

Clearly, this is a very rough scenario with lots of slop, but it at least generally frames the discussion. Other posters have argued the likelihood that the HP would need more service as well as having less longevity and that would further affect the economic balance point in favor of straight A/C.

The next step would be to figure your energy cost savings during the heating season and see how it compares.

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