For those looking for a cost-effective and energy-efficient solution to heating and cooling your home, you are in the right place. Heat pumps are among the most efficient home climate control systems available today.
There are many brands and models to choose from, and this article will examine the Tempstar brand. Whether you have heard of them before or not, Tempstar has a good history of providing us with reliable and durable products, including air conditioners, air handlers, and, of course, heat pumps.
Introducing Tempstar Heat Pumps
Tempstar is a smaller company owned and operated by the United Technologies Group. This is the same umbrella corporation that owns brands like Carrier, Heil, and Comfortmaker. Tempstar is a budget-friendly brand that offers high efficiency Energy Star certified heat pumps at a fraction of the price of the big names.
What this means for you is that you can get a machine manufactured and produced with some of the same major parts as the big guys without paying inflated prices. While there are a few shortcuts in materials and components, the parts that matter are solid, secure, and reliable.
We will take a deeper look into the Tempstar brand, as well as uncover what is a heat pump, how they operate, and what you need to look for when deciding on a brand and model to buy.
Factors To Look At When Considering A Heat Pump
If you have decided on purchasing a Tempstar heat pump, congratulations! One of the biggest steps is knowing what you want. With a heat pump, you know you will get high efficiency and low running costs. Before you pull out your wallet, though, let’s look at a few factors worthy of deeper consideration.
Cost of Tempstar Units
Tempstar units are less expensive than some other major brands. However, this doesn’t mean they are cheap. You will still pay for the machine and must pair it with a compatible air handler.
The overall cost of the system will depend on the model, tonnage and capacity of the unit you select. However, with Tempstar, you can save thousands compared to names like Lennox, Carrier, or Trane.
Another cost factor is installation. You need to hire a trained and certified or licensed technician. While the actual unit can be mounted and wired by almost anyone with the right tools, working with the refrigerant, lines, and ducting takes certifications.
Typical heat pump installation of a single unit between 2 and 3 tons in size and on a single family home will take anywhere from 2 to 6 hours and can come with charges up to $5500 (or more in some cases). On average, though, you should expect to pay closer to $3500 for a full install.
Another cost concern is ongoing maintenance. You should expect to have your monthly or quarterly costs include things like air filters and cleaning supplies. The biggest annual expense, though, will be in the yearly system inspection.
This is when a trained technician comes to your home and spends about 2 hours inspecting, cleaning, and performing minor repairs, if needed. They also help by identifying potential issues before they become major, costly problems.
Noise levels are another concern, especially for those who live in close proximity to their neighbors or install the system just outside a window. Some brands are known for their quiet operation with decibel (dB) levels below 50.
Tempstar is not one of those companies. The average noise level of the heat pumps is about 68dB. Low-end models reach over 70dB, while the high-end units can drop slightly below 60dB.
Another major concern with any high cost purchaser is brand protection. This comes out in the warranty coverage. With Tempstar, you get a two-tier warranty, depending on the model you buy.
With the high-end models, you will get 10 year coverage and a 10-year no-hassle full unit replacement warranty. This means that if anything goes wrong with the unit, you aren’t replacing the single broken part; you get an entirely new unit.
Unfortunately, with lower-end models, the warranty period drops to 5, 3, or even 1 year’s worth of coverage, and the no-hassle full replacement option disappears.
Understanding Tonnage, SEER & HSPF Ratings
There are three main measurements that you need to know forward and backward when shopping for air conditioners and heat pumps. The tonnage is a measure of the output capacity. Essentially, the tonnage is a simplified number to represent the BTU capacity of the heat pump.
12,000 BTUs is equal to 1 ton. Tonnage is generally split in half tons (1 ton, 1.5, 2, 2.5, etc.) between 1 and 5 tons. The tonnage is then directly equated to the square foot size of the cooling or heating space. Essentially each ton is capable of heating or cooling up to 600 to 900 square feet.
The other two measurements rate the energy efficiency. Seasonal Energy Efficiency Ratio, or SEER, is the summertime measurement of the system wattage use to BTU output. On the opposite season, winter, the Heating Season Performance Factor (HSPF) measures the wattage to BTU ratio over the colder months.
For SEER (see further below on calculating running costs), you see a simple to read number that tells you how efficient the system. On average, a good efficiency rating is between 14 and 16 SEER. Great efficiency is between 16 and 19 SEER, with anything over 20 SEER considered excellent.
When it comes to the HSPF, the number will be lower since the system uses more electricity to run a heating element. For winter efficiency, a good rating is 8 to 9 HSPF. Great ratings are 9 to 10 HSPF, and anything above 10.5 HSPF is considered incredible.
Tempstar Heat Pump Range (Side by Side Comparison)
Tempstar has 11 models to choose from. These are split into two main categories called Premium and Performance. The 11 models all have various SEER, HSPF, and even tonnage limits.
The chart below will compare all eleven models on their efficiency ratings, compressor types, equivalent home sizes, and costs. For the costs listed, the range is for all sized models on an average national cost.
The installation adds the listed average of $3500 installation for Tempstar units. Larger units and various locations or even contractors will have different labor costs, so your total price may vary.
|Heat Pump Model||SEER||Ton||Home Size||Compressor Type||HSPF||Cost (Unit Only)||Cost + Install|
|TVH8||19||2 – 5||1200 – 3200 sq. ft.||Variable||11||$2800 – 3000||$6000 – 8500|
|TCH6||17.5||2 – 5||1200 – 3200 sq. ft.||2-Stage||9.5||$2000 – 2500||$5200 – 8000|
|TSH6||16||1.5 – 5||900 – 3200 sq. ft.||2-Stage||9||$2250 – 2700||$5450 – 8200|
|TSH5||16||2 – 5||1200 – 3200 sq. ft.||Single-Stage||9||$2250 – 2700||$5450 – 8200|
|TSH4||14||2 – 5||1200 – 3200 sq. ft.||Single-Stage||8.2||$2000 – 2500||$5200 – 8000|
|N4H6||17.5||1.5 – 5||900 – 3200 sq. ft.||2-Stage||9.5||$2000 – 2500||$5200 – 8000|
|NXH5||15||1.5 – 5||900 – 3200 sq. ft.||2-Stage||8.5||$2000 – 2500||$5200 – 8000|
|NXH6||15||1.5 – 5||900 – 3200 sq. ft.||2-Stage||8.5||$2250 – 2700||$5450 – 8200|
|NH4H4||14||1.5 – 5||900 – 3200 sq. ft.||Single-Stage||8.2||$2250 – 2700||$5450 – 8200|
|N4H4**C||14||1.5 – 5||900 – 3200 sq. ft.||Single-Stage||8.2||$2000 – 2500||$5200 – 8000|
|N4H4||14||1.5 – 5||900 – 3200 sq. ft.||Single-Stage||8.2||$1800 – 2000||$4800 – 5200|
Tempstar Heat Pump In-Depth Reviews
Tempstar’s 11 models range from entry-level to top tier and everything in between.
With the Ion System Control, the higher end models offer more features and benefits.
Let’s take a look at the models in more detail so you can make a better decision.
Tempstar Ion System Heat Pumps
The Ion System Control is a wireless system that allows communication between the condenser and air handlers. This lets the thermostat talk directly with the condenser as expected, but then the condenser unit communicates with the air handler. The entire system runs at speeds as needed to maintain the most efficient use of the entire setup.
The top of the line is the TVH8 model. It features the only variable-speed compressor unit in the entire line. With multiple speed compressors, the unit never fully shuts off, which reduces the power needs when the system comes on.
The TVH8 model also has the highest SEER rating of the whole Tempstar lineup at 19 SEER. The two-stage compressors are not as efficient as variable speed, but they are much more efficient than single speed traditional compressors. This is what you will find in the TCH6 model.
With the other three models (TSH6, TSH5, TSH4), the price comes down quite a bit, but you do get a single stage compressor. The warranty period also drops as they become mid-range models. With the WiFi, all of these models form the Premium Line.
The installation costs are a little higher with these models over the Performance Line (see below). However, you will save more in the long run on your energy bills, which, comparatively, will pay for itself in money saved.
Tempstar Performance Series
The Tempstar Performance series is more in line with mid-range and budget-friendly consumers. The costs per unit are lower, the installation is lower, but so are the efficiency and output.
For the homeowner that has a higher budget, the Performance Series may not be the best fit. However, for those who want a heat pump that works, is reliable, and improves overall efficiency, this may be the series.
The best two models in this line, the N4H6 and NXH5, are quiet, run up to 17.5 SEER and 9.5 HSPF. The two models produce only about 69dB. These two stage compressors aren’t as efficient as the top-tier variable speed compressor. However, with up to 17.5 SEER, you are still more efficient than your current central air conditioner.
The next two models in this lineup, the NXH6 and NH4H4, are ideal for those with tighter budgets that still need a highly efficient machine. The NH4H4 is also designed for tighter area installations. Multi-family housing, close proximity installs, or even mounting up against the wall are ideal for this model.
Finally, the N4H4 and N4H4**C are the same model. They are the most budget-friendly of the lines and have the lowest costs. The only difference is that the **C model is made for coastal installation. Any home within 10 miles of the coast will need this model as it is treated to prevent saltwater corrosion.
Average Power Consumption Of Heat Pumps
Formulating the running costs is a critical aspect of the heat pump buying process.
The basic formula looks like this: kW x kWh x H x D = $ running cost.
The variables you need to run this formula are as follows:
- Kilowatts (kW) are the total watts of the unit divided by 1000. You can find this on the ID label on the unit itself or the owner’s manual.
- Kilowatt-hours (kWh) is how much you pay per kW for your electricity consumption. You can find this amount on your monthly energy bill or by contacting your electrical provider.
- Hours (H) are the actual running hours per day that the system is on. During peak season (summer and winter), the average running hour is between 4 and 6.
- Days (D) are the number of days you want to know the running cost for. 6 months, for example, would be 180 days, or a season (3 months) runs for 90 days.
As an example, the average Tempstar wattage is between 3600 and 4200 watts. We can take the middle of the average at 3900 watts (3.9 kW). The US averages 13 cents per kWh. If we average the running hours at 5 and want to know the cost over the summer months, the formula looks like this: 3.9 x $0.13 x 5 x 90 = $228.15.
Comparing Tempstar with Other Heat Pump Brands
The true test of any product is where it stands in the market. In this section, we compare Tempstar heat pumps against Heil, Lennox, and Rheem to find out where Tempstar stands.
Tempstar Vs Heil
Let’s be honest right up front. Heil heat pumps and Tempstar are essentially the exact same brand, model, and company. Both work under the Carrier heading with the United Technologies Group. The only difference between the models are the model numbers of the top end systems (Heil starts with H, Tempstar starts with T) and where they are sold.
If your choice comes down to these two brands, you only look at where you live. If you are in the Eastern united states, Tempstar is your brand. If you are on the western side of the country, Heil is your brand.
Tempstar Vs Lennox
Lennox is a premium brand with only a few models in the lower-end budget range. The most significant difference here is the Lennox efficiency. Even the lowest-end model has at least a 16 SEER rating. This is by far better than that of Heil, which goes as low as 14 SEER.
Lennox offers 12 models with more multi-stage and variable speed compressors than Heil and a much more durable and reliable system. As a high-end product, though, the Lennox price tag is much higher.
Another downside for those looking to save money is that Lennox has more strict installation specifications, making the installation more expensive. The trade-off for higher-end users is that once a Lennox machine is installed, it has a lower running cost overall.
Heil Vs Rheem
Rheem is another budget-friendly model company. With Rheem heat pumps, you get low cost, smaller installation fees, and decent efficiency. Compared to Heil, there are a lot of similarities. You will find more model selections with Heil (11) versus Rheem (6).
The difference in model numbers, though, is that Rheem doesn’t focus on more minor features. Instead, each of their models has a different SEER rating, and their product lines don’t mix their compressors.
With Rheem, you know if you are getting g single speed, multi-stage, or variable speed compressors based on the line. Heil offers a mix in both of their lines which can be confusing.
The prices are similar, with Rheem costing slightly less than Heil. The Rheem warranty is 10 years across the board, while Heil changes based on the level of the unit (between 1 to 10 years).
Tempstar & Heil Heat Pumps Unique Features
As mentioned above, Tempstar and Heil are essentially the same, with their major difference being the side of the country the units are sold and installed in. However, combined, they do have a couple of unique features. Let’s dive into those now and get an understanding of what they are.
Smart Sense Feature for Condenser and Compressor
Part of the Ion System Control Technology is the Smart Sense Feature. This is a wireless system that connects the condenser fan and compressor, so they operate at the same speeds. When the system is powered on, a variable speed compressor is always running.
Even when the unit is off, the compressor runs at a speed near zero but never truly off. This saves money and raises efficiency because it takes less electricity to get the compressor moving. The technology keeps the compressor and fan moving and in sync.
With multi-stage and multi-speed compressors, the fan doesn’t always move at the same speed. This causes a conflict in the cooling capacity of the condenser unit. With the Smart Sense Feature, the condenser fan and compressor are always connected, always communicating, and always running at the exact same speed.
Ion System Control
The Ion System Control (formerly Observer Thermostat) is a multi-purpose thermostat that controls a lot more than just the temperature. As part of the Ion control units, this control and access point allows you to see and change the temperature, modes, and settings as any standard thermostat would.
However, with the latest model, you can also control up to 8 different heating and cooling zones, humidity control, ventilation, humidifiers, dehumidifiers, and all other Ion HVAC equipment.
It also works to sync the Ion system components together and keep everything running as expected based on the mode selections and ambient temperatures around and outside the home.
Not only that, but with the latest system, you can connect the control point with a mobile app and control your entire system from your smartphone from anywhere in the world at any time.
HVAC Tax Rebate Eligibility
As of 2018, the federal government offers a tax credit program to give you an incentive to upgrade to a high-efficiency system. Heat pumps are a part of that, and it is relatively simple to qualify.
- First, your system must be Energy Star certified and installed by a professional.
- Next, you must be the owner of the home and live in it, as rentals and new construction do not qualify.
- The system itself must qualify. As a split system, it must be a minimum of 8.5 HSPF and 15 SEER, while package systems must be a minimum of 8 HSPF and 14 SEER.
- You must purchase and install the system by December 31, 2021.
There are talks of expanding the program through 2026 and doubling the credit amounts. Currently, though, the credit amount is $300. As long as you meet the requirements above, you only then need to file the proper tax form with your income tax return (tax form 5695).
Choosing an HVAC Contractor: Essential Tips
The biggest headache of any HVAC purchase is the installation. Labor fees are quite high, and even worse, finding the perfect contractor for the job can be a challenge. You want a reliable professional, but also one that is local, affordable, and well-reviewed.
We partner with Networx to ensure all of that happens. By using the free tool, you will have an army of researchers behind you that take your request and scan through the thousands of nearby HVAC contractors.
Within 24 hours, you will have four high-quality, well-vetted professionals that are local to your immediate area. The pros presented have had background checks, are fully licensed and certified, and are also well-reviewed. Unlike other finder tools, those in Networx are not paid to play and must meet minimum requirements to even be considered.
Troubleshooting Tips & FAQs
In this section, we will answer some of the most common questions about Tempstar heat pumps, and we also look at common issues with troubleshooting options. Know when it is something you can fix yourself or when you need to call in a professional.
Are Tempstar heat pumps any good?
Tempstar heat pumps are reliable, durable, and easy to install. Because of these aspects, Tempstar makes an excellent product for homeowners that may not have a lot of money to upgrade using a big name brand like Carrier, Trane, or Lennox.
You will get a good system with many features on the higher end for a low cost. With a 10 year no-hassle replacement warranty, you really have nothing to lose.
Tempstar Heat Pump Replacement Parts
Finding replacement parts for your Tempstar models isn’t that difficult. You want to ensure you get the right parts, though, and for that, you need the exact serial and model numbers. Once you have those, you can shop online through value sites like Amazon.
Aside from the Amazon convenience, the best option is to go through the contractor that installed the unit. They will have a direct line to the warehouse for Tempstar and will be able to get you the ideal part direct from the manufacturer.
Tempstar Heat Pump Trips Breaker Or Freezes Up
Drawing extra power causes a lot of issues. The most noticeable right away is when the circuit breaker keeps tripping. There are a few causes for this, but there aren’t many that are DIY reparable. The one thing you can check is airflow. If the filter is clogged or dirty, it can cause the compressor to need extra power to perform, which in turn causes the breaker to trip.
You should check that when the system is on and running if the compressor is getting too hot. This may mean the condenser fan isn’t running, a component is burnt out, or the compressor is going out. These factors, though, should be left to professionals, especially if you are still within warranty.
If the system is freezing up, you will find ice on the refrigerant lines or the coils (condenser or evaporator). This is due to airflow in many cases. Again, you want to check the air filter. If that is good, or it still freezes, the most likely culprit is low refrigerant.
Because you must be certified by the EPA to handle, fill or recover refrigerant, though, this must be left to the professionals.
Tempstar Heat Pump Blower Doesn’t Run
When the blower isn’t running, the motor is the problem. However, the motor burnout can be the motor itself, a capacitor, contactor, or even a single wire. To test these components, unless the burnt wire is physically or in half, you will need to test the live 240-volt circuit.
If you don’t have the training or testing tools or the desire to work with high voltage, you need to leave diagnosis and repair to the pros.
How do I reset my Tempstar heat pump?
Tempstar uses a circuit reset method. This means there isn’t a reset switch or button to press. Instead, it is manually done with flipping your circuit breakers.
Most heat pumps will take up two circuits in your panel. You need to turn the thermostat off and then flip the breakers that control the unit. After waiting for the residual electricity to run out (3 to 5 minutes), turn the breakers back on. When you turn the system back on at the thermostat, it will be reset.
At what temperature is a heat pump not effective?
Heat pumps generally start losing efficiency at 41 degrees Fahrenheit. Once the ambient temperature reaches about 21 degrees Fahrenheit, your Tempstar heat pump will need supplemental heat sources.
Tempstar heat pumps are a budget friendly, easily installed solution to upgrade your existing home climate control system. Of course, the highest-end model will offer the most features and have the best efficiency ratings.
For those with a smaller budget, smaller home size, or just need a quick, affordable upgrade, Tempstar is a great option. They are a durable and reliable unit that offers a minimum of 14 SEER (up to 19 SEER) efficiency for homeowners that don’t need big name brands on the label.
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