Knowing the difference between available AC units on the market can help a lot when deciding the best value for money on a new air conditioning installation.
We know that realizing that your air conditioning system is beyond reasonable repair is difficult. Don’t decide to replace the unit hastily. Yes, there are many unknowns at this point. Air conditioning units offer options many people are not aware of that can save money. Let’s take a look at your options so you will make a more informed decision.
First, before the final decision on your air conditioning installation, you will need to understand the differences between two-stage and variable-speed units. They both affect the cost of operation as well as the level of comfort and energy efficiency.
Two-Stage Air Conditioning System
Some like to refer to these as dual-stage systems, and the one distinguishing characteristic of the two-stage unit is that the compressor operates at two speeds, low and high.
The compressor pumps Freon into the condenser, making its way to the evaporator where it rapidly changes state, producing the cooling we associate with air conditioning.
With a two-stage system, the compressor in this example works at either 100 percent capacity on the high setting or around 60-70 percent on the low setting. Your thermostat helps determine how long the compressor stays running at 100 percent, however.
Based on temperature needs, the compressor in a two-stage system can operate efficiently on the low setting to maintain cooling. Operation at the low setting places less overall strain on the system, which translates to lower operating costs and longer working life.
If your system uses a single-stage compressor, it has one operating speed. When the compressor is running, it’s at full capacity with no fluctuation in its output. That represents low efficiency because it runs even when maximum cooling is not required.
With your new air conditioning installation, consider how a variable-speed compressor changes its speed based on cooling needs. Using a car analogy, you can think of the compressor as the gas pedal. Of course, to get your car to highway speed, you’ll have to press the gas pedal almost to the floor. That represents around 90-100% capacity – not very efficient for extended periods like the single-stage compressor when it operates at full power any time it runs.
Now consider the difference if you engaged your cruise control. When your speed naturally drops below the set speed, a small amount of acceleration keeps the car running steady. The same is true with a variable-speed compressor. That is, it can run at a reduced speed for most of its operating time, maintaining the set temperature with ease and without having to waste energy by running at or near 100% at all times.
The efficiency of a variable-speed compressor easily surpasses other types. It cools easier and keeps temperatures steady instead of continually fluctuating, which affects the comfort level inside the home.
More Advantages of a Variable-Speed System
- Humidity Control – The best humidity control occurs after the air conditioner runs at a steady speed, albeit lower, for an extended period and allowing air to pass through the filtering system for more extended periods.
- Energy Savings – Since the compressor runs at a slower speed and uses less electricity due to its efficiency, it saves money.
- Better Cooling – Because a variable-speed compressor runs longer at a lower speed, air continually circulates, eliminating hot spots and creating a more even cooling throughout the home.
- Temperature Regulation – A variable-speed air conditioning compressors are precise and consistently create temperature regulation numbers within one-half of a degree of the set temperature. For comparison, an inefficient single-stage compressor struggles to stay within plus or minus four to six degrees of the set temperature.
If you’re looking for an average efficient air conditioning system that won’t break the bank, a single-stage unit is probably your best choice. The more expensive option with better efficiency is a variable-speed system that offers lower operating costs, the best humidity control within the home, and the best efficiency and temperature regulation compared to all of the systems. The frequency of repair with variable-speed systems is slightly higher than other styles, so that is something to consider.
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