Air & Energy | Air Conditioning, Plumbing, Electrical, Generators – Simply Better

Single Speed, Two Stage, & Variable Speed Air Conditioner

Jun 23, 2023 | Blog

Do you know what it means for an air conditioner to be single speed, two-stage, or variable speed? Do you know which one your air conditioner is? We aim to answer these questions for you and explain why an A/C system would be single speed, two-stage (also known as two speed), or variable speed. Stages or speeds refer to different settings that may be available on your air conditioning system’s compressor.

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Types of Air Conditioner Compressors:

  • Single Speed: The compressor operates at one speed. Single speed systems are typically lower cost to purchase. They turn on to cool down the house, run at one continuous speed, and shut off once the desired temperature is reached. It’s either 100% on or off. This is the most basic type of compressor for an air conditioner.
  • Two-Stage: The compressor has two possible speed settings. This is usually the “better” option in a “good, better, best” situation when considering single speed, two-stage, or variable speed systems. Two-stage systems have the ability to run at 100% capacity for a period of time before dropping to a lower speed to reach and maintain temperatures more efficiently than single speed systems. Two-stage systems are favorable for homes with many rooms or temperature fluctuations. They also have the added benefit of reducing humidity throughout the home.
  • Variable Speed: The compressor in a variable system unit has more than two possible speed settings. In fact, variable speed systems can have hundreds of individual settings! In order to fine-tune the system’s speed for efficient temperature control, the Trane XV air conditioner has 750 speeds. Instead of going from 100% down to a set lower speed like two-stage systems, variable speed systems are constantly adjusting the speed for exactly how much cooling is required to meet the desired temperature. Because these systems only use power as needed, they tend to be far more efficient than single speed and two-stage A/C systems. Variable speed units are great for homes that have major temperature fluctuations and families that are hoping to reduce humidity in the home. With lower amp draw and speed run times, a variable speed air conditioner is the best and most efficient option.

So, which system is right for you? It mostly comes down to budget. In the long run, the highly efficient variable speed A/C systems can save you money on electric bills, but they do cost more to purchase up front. Additionally, with the extreme humidity in Florida, a variable system unit will help keep your home at a comfortable humidity level! On the other hand, single speed systems are typically much more affordable to purchase, but can use a lot more electricity running at 100% and shutting off throughout the day to cool the home. If you have an air handler in your home that you don’t plan on replacing, your options are limited to compressors that match the speed of your air handler.

If you’re unsure which option fits your home and lifestyle best, don’t worry! Helping customers choose the perfect system is what our Comfort Specialists do best. If it’s time to think about replacing your old A/C unit, give us a call at the office, or schedule a free estimate online. We’re happy to help you stay cool!

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