Top 50 Most Efficient Geothermal Heat Pumps – 4 Ton Units


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Click here to read Performance Based Contracting is the Future of Residential Geo

HeatSpring’s ‘Top 50 Most Efficient Geothermal Heat Pump’ rankings have been taken down, due to an overwhelming amount of inquiries and feedback.  The data we used to compile the rankings were legitimate and we attempted to be fair to all equipment manufacturers – the decision to take down the rankings, in spite of the integrity that went into them, was based on two factors:

1. The parameters of our rankings were open to legitimate criticism.  We obviously had to pick some parameters, but many criticized this is as bias.  Examples: Why only include AHRI data?  Why only include units with capacities between 45000 and 51000 Btu/hr GLHP cooling?  Almost every manufacturer is the best in some way, so picking a single metric for efficiency was misleading if taken out of context.

2. We didn’t intend to illicit such a negative response.  The spirit of the rankings was supposed to be positive and celebratory – not a slight against those not included.  The last thing we want is to make it harder for a GHP sales rep to do their job and help the industry grow.  What this response tells us is that the GHP equipment market is extremely competitive and almost everybody is putting out great products.  The GHP consumer is winning, and that bodes well for the long-term health of the GHP industry.

HeatSpring Learning Institute is committed to educating the GHP industry, and remaining a trusted source for information.  We have a series of follow-up articles planned, including “Installer’s Guide to Geothermal Heat Pump Selection”, and more comprehensive GHP Performance rankings.  We’ll continue to post comments below, so everyone can learn from the conversation.  I’ll even post a few comments that came in off-line from friends and colleagues who raised legitimate concerns.

Thanks to all who reached out with feedback over the past 36 hours.  Please continue to share your thoughts and opinions about what consumers and geothermal professionals need to know about GHP equipment.

What do GHP Performance Ratings Mean?

Equipment performance ratings are the numbers we use to compare one manufacturer’s product to another – much as we use EPA gas mileage ratings to compare one car to another.  Like gas mileage ratings, equipment performance values do not always (actually almost never) reflect true installed-in-the-home performance.  Rather they are best used to compare similar equipment (furnace to furnace or GHP to GHP) of one manufacturer to another.  Unfortunately, the ratings used for different types of equipment (furnaces, ASHP, GHP) are not comparable, making direct comparisons between different types of equipment difficult. Ratings for all types of equipment are arranged such that higher values indicate more efficient equipment.  The major difference between GHP and ASHP ratings is that ASHP values are intended to reflect seasonal performance and GHP values are the results of tests carried out at a single set of specific laboratory conditions.

For an expanded discussion of equipment ratings see the Equipment Ratings section in HeatSpring’s ‘Geothermal Survival Kit’ written by Kevin Rafferty, PE.

Why Publish These Rankings?

To educate and encourage professionals to take an interest in geothermal heat pumps.  HeatSpring Learning Institute does not sell or promote any particular brand of GHP unit.  Our geothermal training courses teach students the fundamentals to work with all GHP brands.

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About Brian Hayden

Brian Hayden is one of the founders of HeatSpring Learning Institute. HeatSpring has delivered certification and training in geothermal heat pumps, solar PV, solar thermal, and energy efficiency to more than 16,000 students via their Cammpus software platform. President at HeatSpring Learning Institute. Founder at Cammpus. Faculty Affiliate at University of Michigan Center for Entrepreneurship. Board Member at Invest in Girls. Interstate Renewable Energy Council Committee on Standards.
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  • Danny Gough

    Please don’t forget that AHRI ratings only represent the highest “potential” efficiency of the equipment and has little relationship to the actual performance in the home. Since a 4 ton unit is highlighted, it is appropriate to mention proper sizing as being key to maximum performance. Epidemic oversizing still continues to be a black eye for the industry. Even more onerous is the idea of sizing a two speed unit for heating and expecting the low speed to handle summer humidity. Then you have the loop design which can adversely affect system performance. Improper duct design and duct leakage still continue to rob unit efficiency. All in all, it seems professional design and proper commissioning represent about 70% of the systems potential performance equation while the name on the box is the other 30%. If I get my chest cut open for heart bypass, I am more interested in the expertise of the surgeon than the brand scalpel and forceps he uses.

    • Brian Hayden


      Thanks for the comment. We completely agree that the quality of the installer and designer are the most important factor for any customer to consider. It’s a great point and I appreciate you making it.


  • Allen Rice

    Aaron and Co. is an FHP distributor, and the unit model #’s listed are 460v commercial product. I can’t see any residence using what is listed. And the single phase AP049-1 unit (not listed at all) has a COP of 4.6 on HI and at 35deg loop temp. I guess the author didn’t check his parameters on ARI.

    • Brian Hayden


      We just ran a search to get to the bottom of this. The AP049-1 falls outside of our search parameters (45000 – 51000 BTY/hr GLHP cooling). It’s a tremendously efficient unit by all accounts, and the fact that it doesn’t show up on the list is due to the fact that it falls outside the search parameters we used. Your inquiry is similar to a lot of others, so we’re going to do a follow-up article on how to define efficiency for GHP equipment. Thanks for contributing to the conversation, and for your efforts to grow the GHP industry.


  • john mcdonough

    What happened the Climate Master Heat pumps?

    • Brian Hayden


      Can you go a little bit deeper with your question? I just want to make sure I understand the intent before responding. It’s worth noting that ClimateMaster is on the list twice – they make great equipment and do a lot to help the GHP industry.


  • Paul Voiland

    Thanks for doing this work for us. You have done the work of making comparisons for us!

    • Brian Hayden

      Thanks for the nice note, Paul. I know you already know this…but this is only the tip of the iceberg when it comes to comparing units. Service, warranty, availability, technical support…the list goes on. And Danny’s point about quality installation and design is a great one, too.

      You already know that; just making sure everybody else does too. Hope you’re dong great and staying busy.


  • Brandon

    I was wondering why the FHP AP II Series was left out. Based on the ISO 13256-1 Certified Performance Data its COP is 4.6 in part load and 4.1 at full load. The AHRI listing for the AP049-1 is COPGlhp 4.10 . So it should be ranked right at the top with the Water Furnace Envision Series.

    • Brian Hayden


      Allen from Aaron & Co. submitted a very similar question, so hopefully my response works for your question too. The FHP unit you’re asking about has great ratings and shouldn’t be overlooked by installers or designers just because it is outside the search parameters of this list. And it won’t be. These rankings are a conversation starter – not a design tool. Thanks for taking an interest and following up.


  • ed ellingson

    we have a climitemaster tranquility 27 series and don’t see its rating. Its suppose to be their top of the line? ed

    • Brian Hayden


      We pulled the data based on cooling capacity and EER, then compiled rankings based on COP. An honest effort on our part, but it had the unintended consequence of screening that unit out. This is a great example of why we decided to pull the rankings down. I hope you’ll take a look at the revised article above and continue to contribute to the conversation about GHP units and what consumers need to know. Thank for your comments.


  • Mark Stimson

    Any idea why Econar is not on this list? I understand their units to be very efficient, especially in heating mode, for which they are designed.

    • Brian Hayden

      Hi Mark,

      Econar does make very efficient units. This comment is a great example of why we ultimately decided to pull the rankings down. Thanks for taking the time to speak up.


  • Charles Elks

    If you are going to publish the 50 most efficient geothermal heat pumps, please at least get it correct.
    The FHP AP049-1 has a full load cop of 4.1 and a part load cop of 4.6 This product line is 3years old.
    AHRI certified Reference Number 1486868

    • Brian Hayden


      We ran a search to get to the bottom of this, since a lot of FHP Distributors have submitted this same question. The AP049-1 falls outside of our search parameters (45000 – 51000 BTY/hr GLHP cooling). It’s a tremendously efficient unit by all accounts, and the fact that it doesn’t show up on the list is due to the fact that it falls outside the search parameters we used. Here’s a link to the AHRI website where we get all the data:

      Thanks for reaching out. I know we’ve spoken in the past and you’ve got a long history in the GHP industry – so thank you for your work and effort. Professionals who are newer to the industry owe you for helping to get the industry where it is today.


  • Jim Bellings

    We sell and install GeoComfort brand equipment manufactured by Enertech. I have not checked the AHRI website, but I know the equipment is listed and the GXT048 has a COP of 4.0 on full capacity. A response would be appreciated.


    Jim Bellings
    Long Refrigeration, Inc
    Ozark, MO

    • Brian Hayden


      That’s a great unit – the only reason it didn’t make the list is because the capacity is just outside the high end of our search parameters. An expanded search that went beyond 53500 btu/hr GLHP cooling would show that it’s a very efficient unit. Our intent with these rankings is to promote some great performers – GeoComfort is among those great performers and we encourage everyone to become more familiar with the company: And read about President Steve Smith’s role on the board of GEO here:

  • Brian Hayden

    I’ve been getting a lot of calls, comments, and emails today – some with very valid feedback about the shortcomings of this Top 50 list. Here’s a summary of that feedback:

    1. “My GHP has better numbers than are reflected.” If your unit has great numbers and isn’t showing up, it’s probably because it falls outside the range we used when pulling the AHRI data. It’s possible that the AHRI data isn’t completely up to date, but I don’t know enough about their process to know one way or another on that.
    2. “AHRI data is an arbitrary metric and not as useful as Energy Star Data, UL , CSA, or ETL.” This is definitely worth noting. AHRI is the g0-to standard in a lot of circles, but not all. To qualify for federal GHP incentives, the equipment does need to be on the Energy Star list. We’re going to do a follow-up article explaining this, because it is a tremendously valid point for installers and designers to understand.
    3. “Lots of those units are OEM brands under multiple labels.” This is also true. We included the ‘Model Number” column so there was some visibility of that.

    I’ll be responding to emails and comments, so feel free to add to the conversation!

  • Tom Lofft

    This is a great article and very helpful remarks.
    Of course, it would be great to have a parallel rating of 2 ton and 3 ton units and larger sizes.
    The corollary question is “how reliable are the units after 10 years; 20 years?

    E.G. I developed a residential community with 18 installed Waterfurnace units in 18 homes between 1998 and 2003 and none have needed any component replacements in the first 8-12 years.

    • Brian Hayden


      We totally agree. The massive response we’ve gotten to these rankings tells us there’s a hunger for this information. We’re going to circle back and work on some more comprehensive rankings and tables to help people understand GHP equipment. We’ll include this comment in our planning discussion.


  • Carlos Merlo


    I know that this 50 units are a start for us and I do greatly appreciate the time spend on this issue. However, we have many variables in the design and since this is on ongoing research, it is extremely important to all of us and I applaud your efforts.
    I for one, would also like to know the affect that the DIFFERENT intake water temperature at the units plays in the COP (which in my opinion the industry has not given it the proper added value)

    Carlo Merlo
    CMM Managemnet LLC
    Oldwick, NJ

  • Tyler Leach

    Perhaps a better comparison could have been done using the ISO-Standards rather than the AHRI ratings. I understand that it is much faster and easier to compile this comparison through AHRI, however not all variation and options from manufacturers are listed in the AHRI listings. For example, the #30 McQuay Enfinity WVFW1042*L***01 is representative of the model without an ECM blower motor. The model with the ECM blower I assume has not went through the AHRI testing if it is not listed. However, this upgrade alone brings the ISO-Standards COP to 3.8. Though not a substantial increase, this would raise the unit to spot #19 on the comparison list which does seem like a substatial jump.

    • Brian Hayden


      Several people raised this issue. Energy Star has a list, CSA is another rating organization, and there are other third parties who do verification testing. This is another reason why we pulled down the ratings. We’ll be investigating how to incorporate some of these other ratings into any future rankings that we do. Thanks so much for your contribution to the conversation.


  • Tuvyah

    While your title says that you’re ranking the best 50 heat pumps in the world – your list includes only those on the US AHRI rankings – US made. “World” should also include pumps made in Europe ( mostly
    Germany and Italy ) and Asia ( mostly China ). The obvious difficulty of course will be that COP in
    Europe is measured differently than in the US.

    • Brian Hayden


      Great point. This is similar to what others have said about AHRI, CSA, Energy Star, UL and other ratings. Although AHRI is widely regarded as the standard in the US, there are others worth recognizing throughout the world. Thanks for bringing the international perspective into the conversation. It’s an important point.


  • Rob Derksen

    We are a distributor for both Hydron Module and GeoComfort Brands of geothermal equipment and I have seen some of the other posts regarding the same issues I have with our products not being listed. A more accurate way to represent the products in the market place would be to list all 4 ton systems with heating and cooling capacities along with the C.O.P. and E.E.R numbers. Leaving any products off the list that meet or exceed the efficiency standard simply because they have a better capacity performance is a gross error and is misleading to the consumer.

    Thanks for your immediate attention to correcting the inaccuracies in this list.

    • Brian Hayden


      Your concern is legitimate and consistent with what a lot of others have said. The Enertech units you’re talking about weren’t included in the initial rankings because their rated capacities fell outside the search parameters. The fact that these search parameters are somewhat arbitrary is one of the reasons we pulled the rankings today. Thanks for your efforts to grow the GHP industry and for contributing to this conversation.


  • matthew orio

    I noticed that the ClimateMaster TTV units were not included in this listing . They have an ARI/ISO COP rating of 4 . I would say ClimateMaster TTV049 would be the fourth on the list . Geo comfort is on the list, manufactured by Enertech as there second line, but I do not see Hydron Module also manufactured by Enertech as their primary line .The Hydron Module has the exact same COP’s and EER’s as the GeoComfort.
    If this is a comprehensive list to help individual shoppers find the correct unit for their use, then it should be accurate and all inclusive. Open representation of ALL products and accurate portratal of their efficiencies will ultimately stimulate the industry far more effectively then having unhappy users when additional data is discovered from other sources.

    • Brian Hayden


      You’re not the only one to raise this point. Paul Bony brought this up yesterday – his comments, along with those of several others, are a big reason that we pulled the rankings today. Hopefully some of my responses to other comments, and the revised article posted above, address the issues you raise here. Thanks for your work on behalf of the GHP industry in the Northeast, and for your help getting good information out to HeatSpring readers.


  • Martin Orio

    Hey Brian -I wish you hadn’t taken it down. I’d love to see it!
    Go geo,

    Marty O
    New England

    • Brian Hayden

      No – trust me, it’s for the best. You would have been mad at me too.

      Thanks for the note, and I look forward to catching up soon…

  • Brian Fowler

    With regard to your “Top 50″, I have no doubt your intentions were honorable and in fact, had it been done properly could have provided a valuable and healthy resource to our fiercely competitive little industry. We all make honest mistakes from time to time, to be sure, but I suggest a more thorough explanation is in order.

    Several 4 ton models did not make the list but clearly should have. Your explanation? “Because their rated capacities fell outside the search parameter” does not go far enough. I suggest you point out the reason these models fell outside the search parameter is because their full load cooling capacity EXCEEDS the range specified by you.

    Additionally, your “Top 50″ displayed only full load COP. A proper and comprehensive comparison should also include EER, Heating Capacity and Cooling Capacity, at full and part load.

    A colossal blunder has been committed here with negative ramifications for many. Your response to other comments and the revised article above do not adequately clarify this situation nor do they make amends to the manufacturers, distributors and contractors who make a living selling products that should be on a proper “Top 50″ list.

    Brian Fowler
    GeoSource Distributors, Inc.
    Loveland, CO

    • Brian Hayden


      Yes, you’re correct that some of the models that fell out of the specified range (45000 – 51000 Btu/hr GLHP Cooling) did exceed the high end of the range. That would be true for anything over 51000. The reason we chose to include only full load COP is because two speed units do produce very high numbers in low speed, but their performance in high speed is sometimes poorer than single speed equipment. This was definitely a judgment call, which is why we spelled it out pretty clearly in the original article. Questioning these judgment calls we made is exactly what many have been doing for the past couple days – and I don’t blame you. It’s the reason we decided to pull the list this morning.

      I’m not sure I’d classify this blunder as colossal, since I’ve made far bigger ones throughout my life, but I agree that we can do better. We’re going to continue to publish and educate – my hope is that we can do it in a way that has a positive impact on hard working business owners like yourself in the GHP industry.

      A sincere thanks for taking the time to give me a piece of your mind. The feedback is invaluable and will make us better at what we do.


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