A two-stage heating and cooling unit is a heater or air conditioner that has more than just “on” and “off” settings. There’s also a low-power option. This way, it maintains the temperature you want more efficiently and uses less energy than conventional one-stage models.
You might also hear about these being called variable-speed or dual-stage units. But, they’re all getting at the same idea. And, if you’ve been looking into ductless units, those are also two-stage.
So, the next question is, do you need one?
Well, they’re definitely an option for an area like South Jersey. But, there’s no reason to run out and replace your whole HVAC system if yours is working fine right now.
Then again, maybe your heater or AC is on the way out. Or, you want to do something about your energy bills. Perhaps the climate control in your house isn’t what you want it to be.
No matter what the case, let’s take a look at these dual-stage units. We’ll get into how they work and why you might consider one.
How do two-stage heating and cooling systems work?
Well, as the name implies, there’s more than one setting on a system like this. A two-stage heating and cooling system has a low-power mode. This sets it apart from ones that are just on and off.
Most units only have “on” and “off” modes. That means it’s either not doing anything, or it’s running at full blast. What the second stage does is let it run at a lower energy level.
You don’t need to make any adjustments or extra settings. And, the unit doesn’t look any different from other heaters.
But, what it will do on its own is determine if it should be off, or on the high or low setting. You figure it’s already turning on and off on its own. This is just an extra step.
Just like any other central HVAC unit, it’s hooked up to your thermostat. The heater goes by where you set the thermostat and what the temperature is in the house.
For mild days, it will likely only use the low-power mode. Then, when it’s freezing out, the unit uses the higher level.
On those really cold days, it will use the high-power mode to get up to the temp you one. Then, it will run in low mode for a while to maintain that temperature. That’s different from single-stage. With those, the unit roars on when the temp drops. Then, it turns off completely. When it gets chilly again, it’s back on.
What are the benefits of a two-stage heating and cooling unit?
This is the question we often get once we’ve explained how this works: What are the benefits of a two-stage heating and cooling unit? Well, compared to a conventional unit, a dual-stage system:
- Costs less to run
- Offers better indoor air quality
- Is quieter
- Provides more comfortable heating and cooling
- Provides even heating and cooling
We’ll look at costs in a little bit. For now, let’s look at the actual effects of the unit.
For starters, it can improve your indoor air quality. Your central heater works with an air filter. You know, that thing you replace every few months? Well, if you don’t, you should. It’s inexpensive and super easy to do.
Anyway, the filter blocks dust and other particles from traveling throughout your house. A variable-speed unit makes better use of it. When it’s on the low setting, it can trap more of those particles. That’s because the air is moving slower, and it forces less dust through it.
For a similar reason, it’s also quieter. You know the sound of the heater suddenly kicking on? You don’t get that nearly as much.
The dual-stage is a lot quieter on the low setting than the regular one. And, it tends to run on low continuously. That way you don’t get that sudden kick.
That’s also part of what makes it more comfortable. Getting rid of those kicks is more than just sound. It also means a more even temperature all the time.
Remember how we mentioned the single-stage units only kick on when the temperature drops? Well, that means the temperature doesn’t stay the same in your house all the time.
Instead, it’s dropping a little, then rising when the heat comes on. Then it might even get a bit too warm before it settles. But, then the cycle starts all over.
Not so here. Instead, the low-power mode keeps the climate consistent all day and night. There are no sudden rises and drops.
Will I save money with a variable-speed HVAC unit?
Alright, let’s get to the big question: Will I save money with a variable-speed HVAC unit? And, the answer is yes. But, let’s be specific about how.
First of all, you’ll use less energy. This is a tough one to nail down. It depends a lot on how big your house is, how often you use the heat, and where you set your thermostat.
But, the thing about a low-power mode is that it uses fewer resources. That’s less gas or oil you’re burning to maintain the heat. Even though it runs more often than when a single-stage kicks on and off, it’s using less energy during that time.
That really comes into play during the fall and spring. These are times when you just need a little bit of heat. Instead of going on full blast, your unit only uses a little bit of power on the low setting.
Now, here’s a more long-term idea: a dual-stage gets less wear-and-tear than a conventional unit. That translates into a longer lifespan. That means you get more life out of it before plunking down a few thousand dollars for a new HVAC system.
To understand why, think of cruise control on your car. You know how it helps with gas mileage and all? By letting the vehicle run longer without doing a lot of shifting.
With your car and your heater, we’re looking at moving parts. Those wear out. So, you want to use them as little as possible.
Your heater does this by staying on low-power mode most of the time. This way, there’s no shifting, or clicking on and off.
That’s less wear-and-tear on the parts. So, the heater lasts longer. And, in the meantime, you’re getting better air quality and more comfortable climate control.
Are you looking to replace your heating and cooling unit? Contact us, and we’ll help you find the model that’s perfect for your home and your budget!