Central air conditioning systems have three primary roles to fill in your home: cooling, dehumidifying, and purifying. Air conditioners naturally remove moisture from the air as a side-effect of their operation. HVAC systems also purify the air in your home by circulating it through a filter. These latter two effects are essential to prevent modern, well-insulated homes from becoming stuffy and stale inside.
When you're installing a new air conditioning system, you usually want to improve all of these aspects while also keeping your utility bills to a reasonable minimum. Installing a dual-stage system is one option that can help across the board.
What Is a Single-Stage System?
Nearly all traditional air conditioning systems use a single-stage setup. Single-stage systems use a simple "on" and "off" design. When a thermostat detects a temperature above its setpoint, it signals the air conditioner for cooling. The air conditioner responds by turning on the compressor, blower, and condenser fan, and the vents in your home quickly begin to blow cool air.
These systems are known as single-stage since they cannot vary the level of cooling they provide. Instead, your air conditioner works at full blast until the thermostat stops requesting cooling. All three components then shut down and wait for interior temperatures to increase before starting the whole cycle again.
What Is a Dual-Stage System?
If you've been living in a home with a single-stage air conditioner, then you already understand the problem with these systems. Since the unit can only run full-tilt, your home's interior temperature can vary significantly. You may be used to dealing with frigid air when the system cycles on, only for the temperatures to become uncomfortably warm once it cycles off.
Dual-stage systems have a "high" and a "low" instead of running at full speed at all times. Your air conditioner will decide which setting to use, allowing it to run in a more efficient, lower-power state on days with less heat. The system will switch to its high-power mode on hotter days to provide enough cooling to maintain your thermostat's setpoint.
How Do Dual-Stage Systems Help?
Dual-stage systems can help with all three of your air conditioner's roles. By using longer cycles in a lower-power state, they can maintain a more comfortable, even level of cooling. Longer cycles also increase dehumidifying potential, reducing interior moisture levels and comfort levels. Finally, running for longer means the air in your home cycles through the filter more efficiently, increasing air quality.
Even better, the presence of a low-power mode means that dual-stage systems are typically more efficient than single-stage units. In addition to keeping your home more comfortable, they may also reduce your utility bills. If you're installing a new air conditioning unit in your home, it's worth considering a dual-stage option to improve your system's efficiency and comfort.
For more information on AC installation, contact an HVAC contractor.