air conditioner condensers

Should I Get a Single Stage or Variable Speed Air Conditioner?

A new air conditioning unit is a big purchase, so it's important to do careful research before choosing one. You may be unsure of whether a single stage or variable speed AC is better for your home. To pick the best option, you should understand the difference between the two as well as the pros and cons of both choices.

The Difference Between Single Stage and Variable Speed

The difference between a single stage and a variable speed unit is in the way the compressor functions. The compressor is the core component of the AC unit. It circulates the refrigerant through the rest of the system, which is how the AC removes heat from the inside of your home.

A single stage compressor only operates at one speed, but a variable speed compressor can run at different capacities. A variable speed model usually can adjust its speed to anywhere between 25 and 100 percent capacity depending on how much energy is needed to cool the home. A single stage system, on the other hand, either operates at 100 percent or at 0 percent.

Pros and Cons of Single Stage Compressors

A single stage compressor is the least expensive system to buy and install. If you're on a tight budget for your new AC unit, a single stage system may be appealing in terms of upfront cost.

The biggest disadvantage of a single stage compressor is its inefficiency. Most single stage units use short cycles, so they turn on and off many times throughout the day. This wastes a significant amount of energy and can run up your utility bill.

Pros and Cons of Variable Speed Compressors

Variable speed compressors are much more energy-efficient than single stage systems. If your home only needs to be cooled down by a couple of degrees, a variable speed unit won't waste energy running at full capacity. It also doesn't turn on and off as frequently as a single stage unit, which reduces energy usage.

Variable speed systems are able to cool your home more precisely, too. They can usually get within 1 degree or less of the set temperature, and they distribute the cool air evenly throughout your home, which can be a significant benefit if your home tends to have hot and cold spots.

The main downside to a variable speed compressor is the cost. Installation can be expensive, and repairs can be more costly and complicated. However, variable speed systems can save you money over time on your utility bill and cool your home more effectively. If you plan to stay in your current home for a while and prefer keeping your home at a low temperature throughout summer, you’ll likely get your money’s worth from a variable speed AC.

When choosing a new AC system, consider your budget, the size of your home, and the climate of your area. Weigh the pros and cons of both single stage and variable speed units, and consult with an HVAC professional to determine the best option.

At Premier Indoor Comfort Systems, LLC, we offer free estimates for all new air conditioning equipment, and we can schedule same-day appointments in the Greater Atlanta Area & Western North Carolina. Contact us today online or by phone at (770) 749-7667.

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