8 Heat Pump Brands To Avoid (Based on Actual Recall Data)

Ossiana Tepfenhart
by Ossiana Tepfenhart

A great heat pump can boost your home’s HVAC system. However, some brands such as Nordyne and Rheem are worth avoiding. Whether it be Ameristar or Lennox International, let’s take a look at the 6 worst heat pump brands.

If you are considering replacing your heating or air conditioning system, get a quote from local contractors in your area here.

When people think about choosing a heat pump, they want to choose a pump they know will improve their overall home’s HVAC system. They want reliability and affordability, rolled up into one. That’s why many people choose to stick to brands they trust when shopping for a heat pump. If you’re not “in the know,” you probably are wondering which brands you should go to…and which you should avoid.

Based on recall data from the CPSC, Carrier, Goodman, McQuay, and Lennox are the worst heat pump brands you should avoid. Goodman had the most recalls in August 2008, where 30,000 units posed a risk of fire due to the power cord overheating. McQuay had the lowest number of recalls with just 8,800 in 2007. Instead, choose reliable heat pump brands like Trane, York, and Maytag.

When you are trying to find a good brand for your heat pump, it’s important to be aware of what each pump brand offers and why its reputation matters. If you’re in a need of a helping hand, this guide will help you understand what works for each brand, and which brands you should consider buying instead.

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How We Determined Which Brands Are The Worst

We want to emphasize that every brand has its own perks and pitfalls. For the most part, heat pumps are made with both reliability and efficiency in mind. As long as you choose a heat pump from a well-known brand, it’s fairly safe to say that you should expect it to work for years to come.

In order to ensure that we give a realistic rating, we are looking at each brand holistically. If a brand has a particularly low-efficiency rating, reliability rating, we are going to add them to this list and explain why you may want to avoid buying from them. But most importantly, we rely on actual recall data.

Worst Heat Pump Brands (Based on Recall Data)

BrandHazardNumber of Units RecalledRecall Date
GoodmanThe PTAC’s power cords can overheat, posing a burn or fire hazard.30,000 August 27, 2008
CarrierThe capacitors in the fuse boards in the heat pumps can stop working causing the unit to overheat, posing a fire hazard.23,300 May 11, 2017
McQuayReports of smoke, smoldering, and/or charring. Also, cases of fire were reported.8,800 December 20, 2007
LennoxInternal electrical components can fail, allowing the units to overheat, posing a fire hazard.1,650 October 3, 2012

How Bad Is Buying A Heat Pump From A Brand On This List?

Here’s the thing we feel needs to be said: even “bad” brands have fairly excellent products. You should always expect your heat pump to run quietly and last for years, regardless of the brand. It’s not like buying from one of these brands will ruin your life or turn your home into a fire hazard.

If you find a heat pump that has the perfect specs for your home, you should consider buying it regardless of the brand it’s from. Heat pumps come with a warranty for a reason, after all! As long as it’s not one of those sketchy “third party” brands that don’t have a recognizable name, you should be good to go.

The Worst Heat Pump Brands

Now that we’ve gone off and explained everything, we’re going to take a look at which brands made our “wall of shame” for making low-quality, low-efficiency, or otherwise overpriced wares. Are you ready to find out which ones you need to avoid?

1. Lennox International

A major name in the heat pump and HVAC game, Lennox International has a lot of reasons why people love them. They make extremely high-efficiency models, with SEER efficiency ratings as high as 23.5 in some cases. Their issue, however, is not efficiency nor is it the size of the homes they cater to. Rather, it’s about their reliability as a premium brand.

Time after time, customers who have bought Lennox products have noted that they tend to break down fairly quickly compared to other brands. To make matters worse, they make their own parts and often choose to avoid selling them en masse. This means that repairs and replacements tend to be pricier than most other brands.

Approximately 1,650 units from the Lennox brand faced a recall in 2020. The reason why was pretty damning: interior components can overheat, thereby causing a serious fire hazard. Apparently, the at-risk elements also can include the portions of the unit that help keep heat in check.

It’s worth noting that Lennox owns several other brands, including names like ArmstrongAir, Ducane, and AirEase. However, these brands actually have a higher reliability rating than their parent company. So if you want, you can buy them with ease.

2. Ameristar

Ooh, a patriotic name! Well, as much as it’s patriotic in its branding, Ameristar has a couple of issues that make it a brand to avoid. The biggest issue people struggle with isn’t reliability, but efficiency. The entire brand focuses on providing basic heat pump and HVAC products to the masses…and basic is not exactly efficient.

The majority of their products have a 13 to 14 SEER efficiency rating, placing them at the lower end of the spectrum. This means that buying one of their low-SEER products will translate into higher energy bills. No one wants to deal with that, do they?

Moreover, anecdotes online suggest that Ameristar heat pumps can get a little noisy. If you’re just looking for a budget replacement for a blown pump, though, they’re a good choice.

3. Ruud

Ruud has been around for ages, and they’re known for being one of the most affordable HVAC product brands on the market. Unfortunately, they also gained a reputation for being one of the least reliable heat pump brands in existence. The frequent reports of Ruud heat pump breakdowns caused them to get a slightly tarnished reputation with installers worldwide.

The problem was so widespread, the company actively had to address it. Currently, Ruud is working on an entire product line overhaul with a focus on reliability and quality. So while they still may be a brand to avoid compared to others of their price point, we might be able to see them undergo an incredible improvement in upcoming years.

4. Rheem

Rheem is a lot like Ruud, and in fact, the two are basically the same brand. It’s not surprising, then, that they’re troubled. Rheem is the official parent company of Ruud, but you can still occasionally find heat pumps that are under the Rheem brand too. Unfortunately, it seems that the phrase “the apple doesn’t fall too far from the tree” rings true here. Rheem is notorious for having reliability issues.

Faced with frequent breakdowns, massive customer complaint files, as well as several recalls, Rheem HVAC products gained a foul rep among homeowners in recent years. Much like their sister company, Ruud, the folks at Rheem are currently working on an effort to improve their product quality levels.

Since both Ruud and Rheem are still in the nascent stages of their overhaul, it’s hard to gauge whether or not their quality will actually improve. Until we see solid evidence to suggest that they’ve been successful, we’re going to have to put them as one of the companies to avoid.

5. Nordyne

For the most part, Nordyne is not a bad company. Their heat pumps run fairly quiet and you can get a decently efficient model for a reasonable price. Like most other brands on this list, they have their fair share of fans and it’s the specific model that you have to keep in mind when you’re shopping around.

The thing is, Nordyne is a discount brand that focuses on making things affordable. This means they’re somewhat less focused on things like efficiency, noise levels, and reliability. HVAC installation crews generally like their products, but say that their products aren’t as solidly-built as others. So, take that as you wish.

6. Goodman

Goodman is a lot like Nordyne and Ameristar when it comes to reputation. They’re a company that delivers basic HVAC supplies at a very reasonable price. It’s all about making sure that you can find something affordable with them. So, while the prices are okay, the thing is that they are made in a very bare-bones manner.

The biggest problem with Goodman is that they had a number of major recalls, the most recent being in 2008. The recall affected around 30,000 units. Issues included the chance of having wires overheat and for being general fire hazard risks. In other words, this brand might heat your home a little *too* well.

If you were looking for a model with all the bells and whistles, then you’re probably not going to want a Goodman. In terms of reliability, you should be able to find a fair amount of sturdiness in these models. However, they still have a slight reputation for breaking. It’s safe to say you get what you pay for.

7. Carrier

Carrier is a name that most people don’t really think about when it comes to heating, but hey, they make heat pumps. That doesn’t mean that you should buy them. Carrier has a fairly mixed reputation for their heat pumps. On one hand, they’ve received accolades for their environmentally-friendly design. On the other hand, they can be prone to failure.

In 2017 Carrier (and its sister company, Bryant) had a joint company recall that affected a whopping 23,300 heat pump units. The units in question had faulty capacitors that could burn out. When this happens, the heat pump gets to become a fire hazard. So far, no fires have been directly linked, but it still remains one of the largest recalls in recent history.

Will Carrier shape up? I mean, probably. Most brands these days do what they can to make things look better on their end. Carrier is still better than most aftermarket models.

8. McQuay

Of all the brands on this list, McQuay was the only brand to cross the line from potential fire hazard into the territory of, “OH MY GOD THIS STUPID THING IS ON FIRE!” Around 8,800 models were recalled in 2007 due to mechanical failures that resulted in units that started smoking. Several heat pump fires were also reported as part of the recall.

It’s hard to tell what is the worst part about this or why it happened. Did McQuay know that they had a fire hazard on their hands? Did they find it out the hard way? We couldn’t find out the scoop for sure, but it’s still a really bad look for anyone who was considering getting a heat pump from there.

McQuay is a brand that you should avoid if you are not well-equipped with a fire safety system. While a lot can change in 15 years, the fact that this was as widespread as it is doesn’t bode well for anyone who wants a heat pump.

Why Should You Avoid Unbranded Models?

Let’s say you go on Amazon and you find a heat pump that’s a steal. That’s great! Unfortunately, you don’t recognize the brand. In fact, the brand is just a bunch of random letters or something similarly suspicious. Sounds like a familiar situation? You might be tempted to get that pump, but you shouldn’t.

Unbranded models rarely come with a warranty, and even more rarely actually stand by the quality of their work. Since they may or may not make their own parts, fixing these models can be extremely difficult. Since you have no way to control the quality of this and no way to actually guarantee it’ll stay usable, they’re a big no-no.

What Brands Should You Choose Instead?

The brand you should choose is going to depend on your budget, your need for efficiency, as well as the stats that you should expect to get. Every brand has its perks, but some seem to do better than others. Some of the better brands to choose include:

1. Trane

Based out of Dublin, this Irish brand is one that needs no introduction. Of course, we’re still going to introduce it because that’s what we do. Trane is the leading name in all things HVAC, and it’s regularly requested as the go-to product brand by top HVAC techs around the world.

When it comes to heat pumps, Trane regularly scores above the norm in terms of both efficiency and reliability. So if you have a home that is located in a wintery part of town, Trane is a good pick for you. All of their current heat pumps are also Energy Star-certified, so you can rest assured that your winter heating bill won’t kill you.

Admittedly, Trane prices their wares pretty steeply. You may have to pay over $8,000 to get a heat pump from this brand, though there are several models that are well under that price tag. However, their ratings in terms of warranties and customer service can’t be beat. They have up to 20 SEER in energy-efficiency.

Best Trane Heat Pumps

2. York

York heat pumps are considered to be some of the best in the market in terms of both reliability and the sheer variety of models. Warranties are long-lasting, with the Affinity line having the longest warranty in the nation. (Seriously, 10 years is awesome!) The SEER ratings vary between 14 to 21, so finding high-efficiency heat pumps is going to be a breeze.

Aside from the fact that they give 10-year warranties from time to time, York regularly gets recognized for their high levels of customer satisfaction by Consumer Reports and other companies like them. Excellent ratings for residential and light commercial use mean that you can rest assured that you will get a good turnout from these heat pumps.

The good news for people who want to have York heat pumps is that you will be able to rely on some of the longest warranties in the industry. The bad news is that most models from this particular brand will cost between $5,000 to $10,000. So you might break the bank.

2. Maytag

You might already recognize this name as one of the best, most reliable dishwasher brands on the market. Unsurprisingly, their high efficiency, high quality, and amenity-filled heat pumps also got top scores. 12-year warranties, universal parts, and a wide range of efficiency ratings make it a great buy.

Maytag heat pumps tend to be somewhat rare in the HVAC world, but that doesn’t mean that you should avoid them. Admittedly, this is not the number one focal point of the Maytag brand. (That’s dishwashers and laundry stuff.) Maytag still makes a wonderful product with a SEER rating maximum of 19 depending on the particular model.

If you want to get a Maytag, you will be happy to know that this brand is famous for durability across the board. It may be hard to get certain parts for this model, simply because it’s not as popular a brand as Trane or York in this category.

3. Daikin

Japanese maverick Daikin is known for having ultra-high efficiency ratings (like 21 SEER!) and for having all the components made to be easy as pie to repair. With their many amenities, excellent reliability record, and surprisingly affordable price, it’s a brand that rocks every single criterion across the board.

Daikin might be relatively small when it comes to the tonnage they offer (2 to 5 for most models), but don’t be fooled. These petite machines use classic Japanese engineering to create a fully reliable, high-end heat pumps. They are known for being some of the most high-efficiency models on the market right now.

An 11 HSPF rating means that you won’t be left out in the cold during the winter, and that you won’t be frozen out of savings, either. Parts that are made by Daikin come with a 12-year warranty. We are not surprised. Daikin is more famous for standing by its work than most other companies of its price point.

4. Tempstar

If you are looking for reliability with a side of affordability, then you might want to take a closer look at Tempstar. Their products range from 13 to 19 SEER, and 7.7 to 11 HSPF, which makes them less energy efficient than most other brands on this list. Even so, we can’t hate on them too much. They received tons of accolades for their reliability.

The warranties on Tempstar heat pumps can vary depending on the model, with more efficient pumps getting better warranties. Their most popular warranty is the 10-Year No Hassle Heat Pump Limited Warranty. This basically states that they will fix or replace heat pump parts with little questions asked and a fairly quick turnaround.

Tempstar might not be as popular as the rest of the names on this list (including Maytag), but it definitely has its fans. You can rest assured that you won’t be making too many calls to the HVAC repair guy if you end up getting a Tempstar heat pump.

What Matters More Than Branding?

When you’re reading up on the best HVAC brands or the best heat pumps, it’s easy to get carried away with the hunt for the right brand, or even the right heat pump. Though getting the best pump is a good thing to attempt, there’s something even more important than that. You’re probably wondering what it is, right?

As much as brands and models matter, the truth is that you really need to invest in getting a good installation. A licensed and certified HVAC installer will be able to help you get the most out of your heat pump, and also help cover costs if an improper installation needs a repair. Most warranties hinge on you hiring a qualified pro for installation, so if you want to indulge in your warranty, it’s a must.

Related Questions

How long should I expect a heat pump to last?

A good heat pump can last as much as 20 years with proper maintenance, but that’s not always the case. Most heat pumps will last around 15 years at the very least, regardless of brand or model. To make sure you get the most out of your model, make sure to maintain it, keep it clean, and fix any issues that come up as soon as they happen.

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Ossiana Tepfenhart
Ossiana Tepfenhart

Ossiana Tepfenhart is an expert writer, focusing on interior design and general home tips. Writing is her life, and it's what she does best. Her interests include art and real estate investments.

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