The Truth About Single Stage vs. Variable Speed A/C Systems

When in the market for a new air conditioner, it’s important to know your options. You’ll hear a lot about energy efficiency and sizing, and you’ll also hear about compressor operation speeds. Is a single-stage air conditioner better than a variable speed A/C? What about a two-stage system? How do they affect your home comfort? Discover the differences and which one may work best for your home.

Single-Stage A/C—How It Works

If you use central air conditioning rather than ductless mini split systems, chances are that you have a single-stage A/C. The way it works is simple: Say your thermostat is set at 72 degrees. When your indoor temperature gets hotter than that, a single-stage air conditioner turns on, working at 100 percent capacity until the temperature settles at 72, then it shuts off. There’s no variation in speed—it’s all or nothing, hence its name.

Cliff Bergin & Associates can find the perfect sized air conditioner for your home and budget

What Is a Two-Stage Air Conditioner?

A two-stage A/C falls right in the middle of single-stage and variable speed. As you can imagine, it has two stages: high when you need maximum airflow, and low when you don’t. A two-stage air conditioner also doesn’t turn on and off continuously like a single-stage unit. It’s a happy medium between the two.

Variable Speed A/C—How It Works

As its name suggests, a variable speed A/C operates at several different speeds while running. Rather than shutting on and off between cycles, these units fluctuate between different speeds depending on temperature changes in your home. They even operate at as low as 25 percent capacity. A variable speed A/C unit’s cycle often lasts much longer than a single-stage unit—they may even run all day during the summer months.

Single Stage vs. Variable Speed A/C—the Specifics

The big differences between a single-stage unit and a variable speed A/C—other than how they work—are energy efficiency, comfort, and price.

As far as energy efficiency goes, a system that constantly turns on and off, such as a single-stage air conditioner, draws a lot more power than one that cycles longer. And because a variable speed A/C continuously runs at less than 100 percent capacity, it already uses less energy than a single-stage unit.

When it comes to comfort, variable speed air conditioners again have the upper hand. Because these systems run more often, they’re more effective at removing humidity from your indoor air—which is a huge bonus in the summertime. Longer run times also mean better air circulation, which can help cool hot spots in your home.

As for pricing, you get what you pay for. Single-stage A/Cs are the lesser expensive option, whereas variable speed air conditioners are the more expensive. We’ll recommend whichever best fits your home and budget.

Need Help Choosing a New Air Conditioner? Call in the Experts

Selecting a new cooling system for your home can be a difficult task. That’s why Cliff Bergin & Associates makes it easy for you. Our NATE-certified technicians are always at the top of their game. We can measure your home to find the perfect size air conditioner for you, and we handle every facet of installation. We also specialize in air conditioner repair and maintenance, too—we’re your one-stop shop for all things heating and cooling. Call us today at (262) 242-2456 or contact us online.