Is a Mobile Home Heat Pump Right for You?

As the summer months fade, and the days start to draw in, naturally our thoughts turn to keeping warm. Your mobile home may have an air conditioner which kept you cool in the heat, but with winter approaching, maybe you should think about fitting a heat pump instead? A mobile home heat pump gives you all the advantages of air conditioning with the added benefit of a source of heat when you need it. Folks who live in mild climates can use a mobile home heat pump as their primary heating method with no loss of comfort.

Let’s discuss mobile home heat pumps, so you can find what you need.

What Type of Mobile Home Heat Pump is Right for You?

Many of the buying considerations for mobile home air conditioners can be applied to heat pumps. Take the environment that you live in. For example, if you live in a cold climate, it may be that you need an additional source of heat because many air-source heat pumps don’t operate efficiently at super-low temperatures. So, if your thermometer drops to between 10 to 25 Fahrenheit, you likely need a dedicated heating system like a gas furnace or wood stove.

However, mobile home heat pumps are super-efficient if you live in a climate that doesn’t suffer swings in the temperature, but it gets cold enough that you need to take the edge off. Also, you may have a mobile home way out in the middle of nowhere. If that’s the case, getting access to natural gas may be impossible. While you can turn to propane, using a mobile home heat pump in mild weather can help you reserve your propane for truly cold weather.

Air Source Heat Pumps

These systems consist of two parts; the air handler located inside your mobile home and the heat pump outside. Heat is generated by pumping a refrigerant through the pipes, absorbing and releasing heat as it moves. Modern air source heat pumps are incredibly efficient and can reduce your heating costs by up to 50% when they replace outdated, previous generation systems. This is because they move heat rather than generate it, meaning that some efficiency levels can be as high as 200 to 300%.

Improvements in technology now mean that air source heat pumps are capable in colder climates like the Midwest. Previously, they were only considered suitable for the hot southern environments.

Pros

  • Energy-saving and super-efficient.
  • Acts as a dehumidifier, collecting moisture from the air.
  • Filters the quality of the air you breathe.

Cons

  • Not suited in locations where there are long term low temperatures.
  • Don’t operate in the coldest temperatures.

Ductless Mini-Split Heat Pump

This system consists of a compact indoor air handler (up to four can be linked on many systems) and a compressor/condenser located outside. This option is by far the most popular choice with mobile homeowners. The beauty of this system is it requires no ducts to circulate the heat, and it is very quiet. This makes them ideal for manufactured or mobile homes. It also means that you don’t suffer the 30% energy loss associated with systems that require ductwork.

Installing a ductless heat pump may even qualify for federal, state, or local efficiency incentives, since many models are Energy Star rated. Do you want to save even more? There are DIY models available to reduce installation costs.

Pros

  • Ideal for mobile homes as the system required no ductwork.
  • 30% more efficient than central HVAC systems.
  • Cools or heats multiple rooms.

Cons

  • Not everyone wants an air handler on their wall.
  • They cannot integrate fossil fuel heat for extreme cold climates.

Geothermal Heat Pumps

These heat pumps are sometimes known as ground or water source heat pumps. Unless your mobile home is located on a large plot, is close to a water source, or far enough away from neighboring properties, it is unlikely that you would opt for this form of heat pump.

Plus, there is the eye-watering installation costs. It can cost $20,000 or more to have a geothermal heat pump installed. The average price of a double-wide manufactured home in the US is roughly $105,000, so when you factor in that a geothermal heat pump costs almost a quarter of the amount, you can see why very few would choose this option.

They work by moving heat through a network of looped pipes buried vertically or horizontally in the ground outside. Because the ground temperature beneath the frost line is constant, the coolant in the tubes is heated at a steady 50-ish degrees Fahrenheit and channeled into your home.

These heat pumps also control humidity and last upwards of 25 to 50 years. They are up to 50% more efficient than other sources of heat, saving you big bucks. Geothermal heat pumps also work well in extreme climates.

Pros

  • Geothermal is the greenest way to heat. It produces no carbon or greenhouse gasses.
  • Ground-source heat is inexhaustible.
  • It has an operating life of 25 years for the heat pump and 50 years for the loops.

Cons

  • It needs more land to bury the loops.
  • Geothermal may not be suitable in certain soil conditions.
  • It is expensive.

Other Factors to Consider

Energy Efficiency

Air source and ductless heat pumps have two energy measurements because they cool and heat. The cooling element is measured by Seasonal Energy Efficiency Ratios (SEER) which is the same as air conditioners. As with air conditioners, the northern states have a minimum SEER of 13, while the mid and southern states have a minimum rating of 14 SEER.

When it comes to generating heat, these systems get measured by something called Heating Seasonal Performance Factor (HSPF), and the minimum federal rating for a heat pump is 7.7.

In warmer climates, a higher SEER is more crucial while in colder environments, a higher HSPF is better. The American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy states that you should consider buying a heat pump with a minimum SEER of 15 and a HSPF of 8.5.

What is BTU?

BTU stands for British Thermal Unit, and it is the standard measurement of efficiency for heat pumps and air conditioners. It is the amount of heat required to raise the temperature of one pound of water by one degree Fahrenheit. The higher the BTU, the more efficient the heat pump.

Your home will need a certain minimum amount of BTUs to stay warm. Should you invest in a mobile home heat pump, make sure it can generate the heating BTUs you need to maintain comfort.

What about Geothermal?

Geothermal heat pumps are measured by Energy Efficiency Ratings (EER) for their cooling performance rather than Seasonal Ratings because the heat they generate is at a constant temperature, with little fluctuation. The federal minimum standards are 17.1 to 21.1 EER.

For the heat measurements, Geothermal heat pumps are judged against a Coefficient of Performance (COP), and the minimum standard set by the government is 3.1 to 4.1.

Deciding Where to Locate Your Mobile Home Heat Pump

Just like air conditioners, the location of your heat pump can affect the performance and efficiency.

Keep the Unit Protected - When you are locating the heat pump, keep it away from the elements, especially high winds. Placing a small fence in front of the coils will help, but not so close that it obstructs air flow.

Not Near a Window - To avoid unnecessary noise pollution, place the heat pump away from windows. While they are quieter than air conditioners, they still operate at around 70 dB, which is just below the noise level of a vacuum cleaner.

Size Correctly - An undersized heat pump will struggle to warm the space and suffer malfunctions over time. Similarly, and oversized heat pump will suffer the same fate as it continuously switches off and on as your mobile home reaches temperature too quickly.

Other Considerations Before Buying

Insulation

Insulating your mobile home will increase the performance of the heat pump while reducing running costs. Historically older mobile homes have poor insulation, so it may be worth tackling that task before you invest in a heat pump. In essence, your heat pump is only as efficient as your home. Also, installing programmable thermostats can increase efficiency by automatically adjusting the temperature according to the climate, saving you as much as 10% annually on your heating bill.

Final Thoughts

A mobile home heat pump can be worth every cent. Not only do will it keep you cool in the summer, but it may be exactly what you need to stay warm in winter. Plus, a mobile home heat pump will dehumidify. They can remove as much as 4 liters of moisture from the atmosphere every hour, depending on the model you choose. Humidity can be an issue in mobile and manufactured homes, so that capability is always beneficial.

In short, there's no reason a mobile or manufactured home can't leverage heat pump technology to provide qualify air comfort at an efficient cost.

Do you have questions about the best mobile home heat pump model for you? Call us at 270-575-9595. We'll be happy to answer any questions you have. You can also message us directly here.

0 comments (view/add)

* All fields required.

Your email address will not be published. Comments will display after being approved by our moderators. Comments may be edited for clarity.