Air Conditioning Installation 101: Two-stage vs. Variable Speed AC Units

If you’re looking into a new air conditioning installation, you have a lot to consider. Choosing between a two-stage and variable speed unit is one of the first decisions that you might make. Understanding these two options will give you a better idea of why compressor speed matters and how you can select the speed that’s best for your budget, energy efficiency goals, and comfort.

What is a Two-Stage AC System?

A two-stage AC system, also known as a dual-stage system, has a compressor that works at two different speeds. The compressor pumps refrigerant through your air conditioner and controls the rate at which it cools your home. If your system has two stages, it can either run at full capacity on the high setting or at 60 to 70 percent capacity on the low setting.

This is an improvement over single-stage air conditioners which operate at just one speed. These systems are either on or off. When they’re on, they run at full capacity, whether you need all that energy or not. A two-stage AC system is better than a single-stage air conditioner because it can utilize the lower setting which uses less energy. The lower setting also puts less strain on your system as a whole, which means fewer repairs and a longer lifespan.

What is a Variable Speed AC System?

A variable speed AC system is even more efficient than the two-stage option. This type of system can operate at any capacity, making minute adjustments to the speed which will maximize your energy efficiency and deliver exactly what you’re looking for in terms of comfort. Variable speed systems typically run at lower speeds most of the time, providing steady, even cooling while using minimal electricity.

Variable speed air conditioners are more effective at everything they do. They offer outstanding dehumidification, extremely precise temperatures, and even comfort throughout your living space. These systems also require even fewer repairs than their two-stage counterparts and have the longest lifespan when compared to other types of compressors.

Which Option is Better?

For temperature management, energy efficiency, and dehumidification, the variable-speed AC system is your best option every time. This is the latest in cooling technology. The innovation of variable-speed compressors changed the landscape for temperature management. You can cool your home to within half a degree of your programmed setting with this system.

There are, however, some cases where you might need to choose a two-stage AC system. If you can’t afford the higher price tag for a variable speed air conditioner, a two-stage system is better than a single-stage installation. There is a significant price difference between all three options. If you can’t get to the highest performance tier with a variable speed AC installation, a two-stage system is a good compromise.

When Should I Upgrade to a New Installation?

You should start considering an upgrade to a new air conditioner if you’re noticing any of the following:

  • An unexplained increase in utility bills
  • More frequent AC repair needs
  • Your system doesn’t cool the home evenly
  • Your air conditioner is over 10 years old

These are all signs that your air conditioner is nearing the end of its lifespan. You might also choose to upgrade your AC system sooner if you’re simply looking for a more efficient option for your home. If your air conditioner has never quite delivered the cooling you’re after, it may be undersized for your home. Upgrading will help you get even cooling throughout your living space. If your utility bills are higher than you’d like, upgrading from a single-stage AC unit to a two-stage or variable speed system will have a notable impact on your electricity use.

If you’re ready to start exploring your options for a new AC installation, contact Del-Air Heating and Air Conditioning at 888-831-2665. We can assess your home and help you determine which options are best suited to your needs. Our Best Price Guarantee lets you shop with confidence, knowing that you’ll always get a great deal.

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We are so grateful that Del-Air took care of us. It was an easy initial call. They ran routine service/maintenance. In that appointment, Raymond showed us areas in our air units that needed addressing. He took his time and made sure he made a thorough inspection of all the equipment. And what a nice gentleman. We…

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This was my first experience with Del-Air and they were prompt, professional, and knowledgeable. They were able to get me in on the same day for a maintenance visit, which I wasn’t expecting but very much appreciated. The office staff was pleasant and so was the technician that came out to service my air conditioners. Thanks…

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Davenport, FL

Called at 9pm and they were at our house the next day at 9am. Thorough evaluation , great communication, and fixed our problem without a hard upsell for a whole new unit I. Honest service and I have great confidence with this company moving forward.

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Jacksonville, FL

This is our second house using Del-Air and the value and service is why we come back. Our tech Reggie was fabulous! Above and beyond service, super nice, professional and thorough!

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I have been using Del-Air for our home a/c concerns since purchasing our home 8-yrs ago. They have been and remain top- notch.

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