1, 2, Variable Speed AC

variable speed ac unit

When homeowners have issues with their AC, they consider repairing or replacing the unit. The less money spent on repairs, the better. But unfortunately, costs can add up, so replacement is often the choice most people make. However, choosing a new AC is more challenging than it used to be. That’s because there are one-stage, two-stage, and variable-speed AC. They may look similar on the outside, but the technology each uses can make all the difference in a property. Let’s talk about the key distinctions between each HVAC system.


One and Two Stage Air Conditioners

A significant difference between one and two-stage air conditioners is the compressor. One-stage ACs operate at full power, while the power capacity changes for two-stage units. It has the same 100% full-blast setting, but the second stage uses roughly 70% of the unit’s power.

Rather than turning on and off at 100% power when temperatures are close, a two-stage compressor uses less energy, which will reduce overall wear and tear on a system. For example, a property owner sets the thermostat to 69 degrees. The air conditioner might let the temperature rise to 70 before turning on. Then it’ll cool down by a degree or two, and the cycle will repeat.

Variable Speed Air Conditioners

Variable-speed air conditioners are in another ballpark than one and two-stage air conditioners. They have various operational settings to maximize airflow throughout a property. One of the more critical factors for these units is the SEER rating, which measures a unit’s heating and cooling efficiency.

Most variable-speed ACs will have a higher SEER rating, usually around 20 to 21. Furthermore, like two-stage units, variable speed systems can use less than 100% of their power to keep a consistent temperature. It’ll only use what’s necessary.

What Are the Pros and Cons of Each?

Customers will likely ask you for advice about the best system for their property whenever you’re on a maintenance call. The answer will vary on specific factors like their location, budget, and existing furnace type. Before deciding on a unit, it’s best to know the pros and cons of each.

One-Stage AC

One of the biggest pros of a one-stage unit is the initial price. Buying and installing the unit will be a more wallet-friendly option for those on a budget. And it’ll provide adequate heating and cooling for properties.

A significant drawback of one-stage units is their energy efficiency. Property owners will have higher energy bills since the AC always uses full power. Also, the starting and stopping of the system might be bothersome.

Two-Stage AC

Two-stage ACs offer a nice balance between initial cost and energy efficiency. As mentioned above, they use two different power settings, which help lower energy usage and overall prices, which would make most property owners happy customers.

In terms of drawbacks, the main issue would be cost-related. Since these units are the “middle child,” deciding the best option can be more challenging. While the price tag can lean more towards single-stage units, a customer’s final decision will rely on their budget and home’s needs.

Variable-Speed AC

Variable-speed units are the most energy-efficient of the three. Property owners will have reduced energy bills and enjoy a quieter operating system. Plus, since there are multiple operating speeds, there will be fewer temperature fluctuations than one would experience with one and two-stage AC.

However, the cost is a big factor. Since it’s a significant upgrade from the other two systems, initial cost and installation are on the higher end of the spectrum. Homeowners would also have to consider repair costs; it can be expensive to fix these systems if a part breaks down. And even if the system is under warranty, labor isn’t covered, so that will be out of pocket.


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