You’ve gotten all you could out of your old air conditioner, so the time is right for a new model. But, as you research the latest models and talk to the experts, chances are you’ll hear about “1-stage” and “2-stage” AC units.
If you have no clue what these are, don’t worry. We’ll give you a quick rundown of what these units are, the difference between the two and which one you should buy for your home’s cooling needs.
It’s All About the Compressor
When AC experts talk about “stages,” they’re referring to the operating modes available on your AC unit’s compressor. The compressor plays a key role in keeping your home’s indoor air cool and comfortable.
With a traditional 1-stage AC unit, the compressor operates at 100-percent capacity at all times. It doesn’t matter whether the cooling demand is small or great – the compressor either runs at full tilt or it doesn’t run at all.
With a 2-stage AC unit, the compressor has two levels of operation: high or low. At times when your home demands maximum cooling, the compressor runs at 100-percent capacity just like the 1-stage AC unit. For those times when you don’t need much cooling, however, the 2-stage unit’s compressor runs at a reduced duty rate, usually between 60 percent and 75 percent.
Why Choose a 1-Stage AC Unit?
Cost is the main reason to choose a 1-stage AC unit over a 2-stage unit. In most cases, a 2-stage AC unit may cost hundreds more than a comparable 1-stage unit. Of course, that depends on a variety of factors including SEER rating and equipment options.
A 1-stage AC unit can still cool your home well in spite of its limitations. That makes it a worthy pick if you’re in search of a bargain option.
Why Choose a 2-Stage AC Unit?
There are plenty of reasons to choose a 2-stage AC unit over a 1-stage unit:
- Better energy efficiency – A 2-stage AC unit doesn’t have to run at full tilt all the time, which helps reduce energy consumption without sacrificing home comfort.
- Better cooling and comfort – When operating at its reduced duty rate, a 2-stage AC unit’s longer cooling cycle offers more gradual cooling and moisture removal.
- Greater longevity – Compressors experience wear and tear every time they start and stop. A 2-stage unit doesn’t have to start or stop as often, which means less wear on the compressor and other AC components.
- Better long-term bargain – Due to reduced energy and maintenance costs, a 2-stage AC unit can pay for itself throughout its service life.
Are There Other Alternatives?
A variable speed AC unit is another option to consider over 1-stage and 2-stage AC units. Unlike the latter, a variable speed AC compressor has a much larger duty range – from as low as 10 percent to over 100 percent. This makes a variable speed AC unit more flexible when it comes to cooling your home more efficiently.