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Are Two‑Stage Air Conditioners a Good Choice for Phoenix‑area Homes?

Outdoor AC Unit

If you need a new AC system, you’re probably wondering if a two-stage AC is a good choice for your Arizona home.

The short answer? Yes, a two-stage AC is a good choice for almost any Phoenix-area home. However, it's important to note that it's not the ONLY option when it comes to central ACs. We'll explain more in this blog by discussing:

Rather have a pro help you determine which type of AC is best for you home? We’d be happy to help. Learn more about the AC installation services we offer or schedule service with us!

Single-stage vs. two-stage vs. variable-speed ACs

Single-stage AC

Single-stage AC systems have one speed: HIGH. If you have a single-stage AC, it means your air conditioner is either running at 100% full blast or it’s off.

The biggest benefit to single-stage ACs is that they are the least expensive option of the three. However, single-stage ACs have quite a few cons, including:

  • They are not very efficient- A single-stage AC starts, turns on at full blast, cools the home off very quickly and shuts off. This quick ON-then-OFF cycle prevents the system from providing optimal comfort and eats up more energy than other types of ACs.
  • They usually wear out the fastest compared to two-stage and variable-speed.
  • They don’t do a great job of dehumidifying your home- To properly dehumidify your home, your AC needs to run for longer periods rather than turning on at HIGH and then shutting off quickly.

Two-stage AC

Unlike a single-stage AC, a two-stage AC has 2 settings: HIGH and LOW The air conditioner uses the low setting most of the time but still has the HIGH setting for really hot days (of which there are many here in Phoenix).

Two-stage ACs are more expensive than single-stage ACs. But, compared to single-stage ACs, two-stage ACs provide:

  • More efficiency- A two-stage air conditioner’s low setting lets it run almost continuously. It sounds counterintuitive but running longer on a lower speed is actually more efficient because it eliminates the wasteful stopping and starting.
  • More even temperatures in your home- Because a two-stage air conditioner runs longer, it distributes air more evenly and helps eliminate hot and cold spots in your home.
  • Better dehumidification- A two-stage AC is designed for longer cooling cycles, which means it has more time to dehumidify your home.
  • Longer lifespan- Because a two-stage AC is not running on full blast all of the time, it typically has a longer lifespan.

Variable-speed AC

A variable-speed AC is exactly what it sounds like, an AC that can run at HIGH, LOW and at multiple speeds in between.

Variable-speed ACs are the most expensive of the three, but are also:

  • The most efficient- Variable-speed ACs can ramp down to match the specific cooling load needed, which means it never runs harder than it needs.
  • Best at providing precise temperatures- Because variable-speed ACs are able to “customize” their speed depending on the temperature, they are able to provide the most even cooling.
  • Best at dehumidifying your home- Variable-speed ACs can run at a low speed for a longer time, which is the best way to dehumidify your home.
  • Most long-lasting- Because variable-speed ACs can work at whatever speed necessary, the internal motors are never overworked, which allows the system to last longer.

How do I know which type of AC is best for me?

So how do you know which AC is best for you? Well, our recommendation for Phoenix homeowners would be a two-stage or variable-speed AC.

More specifically, we'd suggest:

Choosing a variable-speed AC if you're primarily concerned with comfort and efficiency (and less concerned with upfront cost).

Choosing a two-stage AC if you're primarily concerned with upfront cost and are on a tighter budget. With a two-stage system, you'll see most of the same benefits of a variable-speed AC at a lower cost.

We don’t recommend single-stage AC systems to Phoenix homeowners because they aren’t efficient in Phoenix summers and usually wear out much faster than two-stage or variable-speed ACs.

If you’re on the fence, our suggestion would be to talk with your contractor and find out if a variable-speed model could save you enough money on your energy bills to make the price difference worth it in the long run.

Want more info? Contact us

If you're in the Phoenix area, we’d be happy to help you find the perfect air conditioner for your home.