The cost to install a ducted or ductless heat pump in Portland, OR ranges between $3,300 for a small ductless system to more than $12,000+ for a large ducted installation.
That’s a big range, we know! But it varies depending on many factors unique to your home’s size, infrastructure, comfort preferences, and budget. That’s why in-home consultations are so crucial. A qualified HVAC professional must assess your home before they can provide an exact estimate. You’ll also get to ask questions, share your budget, and discuss possible financing options.
That said, we can help you make sense of which option is better for your budget in this blog:
- Key differences between ducted and ductless heat pumps
- Ducted heat pump cost factors
- Ductless heat pump cost factors
- Cost factors that affect both installations
Schedule a free estimate from Four Seasons’ trusted heat pump professionals.
Are you trying to decide whether a ducted or ductless heat pump is the right choice for your home? Four Seasons is here to help! Our highly-trained comfort specialists will inspect your Portland home’s size, layout, and energy requirements, then give you upfront pricing options to meet your needs and budget.
Key Differences Between Ducted and Ductless Heat Pumps
In a traditional ducted system, a central heating and/or cooling unit passes conditioned air through a network of ducts concealed inside your house's ceiling, floor, and walls. A ductless system is sometimes called a mini-split because it is split between an outdoor unit and air handlers in each room.
Ducted systems can often be the better choice if the layout of a new addition makes it easy to add additional dampers with take-offs from the existing trunk line. They are also better at managing the humidity in each room and equalizing temperature all over the house with a whole-house network to move air. The entire system is also tucked away behind plaster or drywall, so a ducted system is generally more discreet.
Ductless systems are a bit more efficient since each room is separately zoned. These systems also circulate less dust. If you have vaulted ceilings or wood paneled walls you can't punch out to make room for elaborate ductwork, your home contractor will probably recommend you install a ductless system. Additionally, they’re great for home additions, accessory dwelling units, granny flats, or areas of your home that don’t currently have heating or cooling.
Ducted Heat Pump Cost Factors
Installing a standard ducted heat pump in Portland can cost as little as $6,000 or as much as $12,000+. The average cost runs to around $8,200 for most homes. The price you pay for a traditional heat pump depends on a few factors, such as the size and efficiency of the model you're installing and the condition of your home's existing ductwork.
Size of Heat Pump
Larger-capacity heat pumps generally cost more to buy and install, but you need to be careful with the size you're going with. Bigger is not necessarily more powerful for heat pumps since they vary a lot in their efficiency levels and transfer mechanisms.
However, you might need a more efficient or larger unit to manage a larger and more complex duct system, so it’s even more crucial to have a professional HVAC technician provide an in-home estimate. Trustworthy professionals will perform a Manual J. Load calculation to assess things like:
- The square footage of your home
- The layout of your home
- The number of doors and windows you have
- And other key factors unique to your home’s location
Condition of Your Air Ducts
The condition of your air ducts makes a huge difference in how well your heat pump performs, which affects how much the total system will cost. Old, dirty, or worn-out ducts with leaks are harder to push warm air through.
If your ductwork is not in good shape, consider having it cleaned, sealed, or repaired when installing the new heat pump. Otherwise, you’ll pay for heat or cool air that escapes to unconditioned spaces like the attic or crawl spaces. Worse, damaged air ducts can cause your heat pump to work harder than it needs to, leading to an increase in repairs or a sooner-than-necessary system replacement.
Ductless Heat Pump Cost Factors
Installing a ductless heat pump in Portland costs between $3,300 and $15,000, with the average coming in around $4,600. That's a pretty wide variance, and the exact price you're likely to pay will depend on a couple of factors:
Number of Units Needed
Ductless heat pumps employ wall-mounted air handler units in each room or “zone” you want heated or cooled. It’s relatively easy to install 1-2 units per system installation. If you need more than 2 zones, expect your costs to increase significantly.
In general, if you need more than 4 zones, it may be worth investing in a ducted heat pump system, even with the extra cost of ductwork installation. However, it comes down to the size and layout of your home, so make sure to consult a well-qualified installer.
The Size of Each Room
Larger interior spaces will require a more powerful heat pump system in order to meet the cooling or heating demands. Similarly, rooms with less insulation, a larger-than-average number of doors, windows, and other thermal weak points, and rooms with vaulted ceilings generally need more powerful units. This tends to run at the higher end of the price scale.
Cost Factors That Affect Both Installations
Regardless of whether you install a ducted or ductless heat pump, the cost will be impacted by their respective energy efficiency ratings, warranties, and installer fees.
By law, all heat pumps come with a “Seasonal Energy Efficiency Ratio” or SEER rating to inform consumers of how well they can cool the space. They also come with a “Heating Seasonal Performance Factor” or HSPF rating, which expresses the efficiency of the heat pump’s heating ability.
SEER ratings range from 14-18+, and HSPF ratings range from 7.7-10+. Generally, the greater the SEER or HSPF rating, the more expensive the heat pump system. However, high-efficiency systems will perform better, especially under extreme temperatures, which makes them ideal for Portland’s fluctuating weather conditions. You’ll also save money on monthly energy bills, making the upfront cost worth it long-term.
You definitely want to get a good warranty with your new heat pump. Be ready to pay more for a full-service or long-term extended warranty, which typically adds extra costs to the installation price of a heat pump.
The Contractor You Hire
Perhaps the most important factor affecting your final cost is the contractor you hire to install your new heat pump. More experienced contractors will generally charge higher labor prices, but you’ll avoid the hassle of repeat or shoddy workmanship from novice installers.
We recommend only working with licensed, insured, bonded, and exceptionally well-trained HVAC contractors. For example, NATE-certified technicians are some of the best in the industry. It pays to shop around for the most highly skilled team you can find and expand your budget in exchange for trustworthy expertise and a job done right.
Still on the fence about ducted vs. ductless heat pumps? Schedule a free estimate with Four Seasons today.
Call Four Seasons today at 503-538-1950 to set up a free in-home comfort consultation. Our experts will review your individual needs, comfort preferences, and budget. Then, we'll present you with our top system recommendations minus any sales pressure.