Single stage and two stage air conditioners can both provide the cooling you need to survive a hot Arizona summer, but a two stage air conditioner can provide you with a much more comfortable home environment with low energy costs. Let’s discuss it further.
What is a two stage air conditioner?
Also known as a dual stage system, a two stage AC system utilizes a compressor that works at two different speeds. The compressor pumps refrigerant through your air conditioner to cool your home. On high, it runs at 100% capacity. At low, it runs at between 60-70% capacity.
The two stage air conditioner works at high or low stages, depending on the level of cooling your home requires. So, on days that are warm enough to increase the temperature in your home but not truly hot, this type of air conditioner will initiate at the higher stage for faster cooling but then will switch over and mostly run at a lower stage to provide less cooling at a more energy-efficient level.
When the temperature outside is substantially higher, the two stage air conditioner will run at full capacity for a longer period to get your home cooled down and then switch to its lower stage to keep the temperature regulated throughout the day.
Basically, the time spent at each stage will depend on how much warmer it is outside than whatever your thermostat is set at in the area you are cooling, so the full capacity setting isn’t used very much unless the outside temperature is significantly higher than your thermostat setting.
Single Stage vs Two Stage Air Conditioner
As discussed, an air conditioner with two stages will spend most of the time on the lower level, running at less than 2/3 of its capacity. This is because it achieves the temperature selected for your home and then kicks back in whenever it slips below that temperature using its lower setting.
A single stage air conditioner always operates at full capacity. Whether it has been off and has to bring a room back down to its preferred temperature or it only needs to cool it down slightly, it always operates at full tilt. Once the ideal temperature is achieved, the compressor will shut down and not kick back in again until it is needed—once again, at full speed—its only speed.
Two Stage Air Conditioner Advantages
Now that you understand the differences between single stage and two stage air conditioners, you may still have questions about why it matters which you choose.
The answers to this are multi-faceted. Your air conditioning system will do a lot more work on long, sizzling summer days than it is in the cooler months of the year. This is where the two stage air conditioner excels.
Dehumidification—One of the features of a two stage air conditioner is on-demand dehumidification. This feature allows you to maintain a higher temperature setting while still keeping the humidity low in your home. This decrease in moisture helps prevent mold and other air pollution that can thrive, leading to health issues.
Energy Savings—This contrasts with single stage air conditioners that work at only one speed. You can manually turn them off when you don’t need as much cooling, but they will run at full capacity whenever they are on. With the two stage air conditioner, it takes less energy for it to keep your home cool.
Increased Life Span—The advantage of the two speed air conditioner is that you aren’t overcooling your room and thus, using more energy than necessary or creating extra wear and tear on your unit that might result in a reduced lifespan.
Noise Reduction—Though both types of air conditioner will be a bit noisier than standard cooling methods such as a central AC unit or mini-split ductless AC systems, the two stage air conditioner still has an advantage over the others. The lower stage of the unit is quieter than the higher stage. Since the lower stage is where this model operates most of the time, it is quieter for most of its operating time.
Deciding Between a Single stage vs Two Stage Air Conditioner
Remember that when deciding between a single stage vs. two stage air conditioner, a two stage air conditioner is designed for optimal comfort and efficiency.
It accomplishes this by running its outdoor compressor and circulation fan and its indoor fan at full capacity when needed for more rapid cooling, but once it has cooled the area to its desired temperature, it switches to its lower stage settings to maintain the correct temperature. This second setting falls somewhere between 60-70 percent of full capacity. Thus, operating at a slower speed most of the time it’s in use.
The two stage air conditioner functions at low speed for longer periods to keep your home comfortable. Compared to one stage air conditioning, which always cools at full speed, this means it is working more often to cool the air and remove moisture while still using less electricity.
For this reason, a two stage air conditioning system is more efficient at keeping you cool and comfortable in your home for less money. You save on energy, but you also save on wear and tear that can create the need for repairs or earlier replacement of the unit. A one stage air conditioner always operates at full capacity. It pulls electricity at 100% every time it kicks on, thereby increasing energy costs.
While you will pay a bit more for a two-stage air conditioner than its less expensive one-stage counterpart, the money you save on energy and maintenance, in the long run, will more than makeup for the initial expense of the system. You can also check our article on “Mini split ac vs central air” which might help you in choosing the right AC.