Selecting Your Air Conditioner: Single-Stage vs. Two-Stage

Air conditioners come in a variety of brands, capacities, and sizes. And while there are a number of important choices to be made when selecting a new


air conditioner for your southern California home, deciding between single-stage and two-stage can be the most confusing.

What are single-stage and two-stage air conditioners?

Until recently, most all air conditioners have been single-stage. In fact, if you are in the process of replacing your current air conditioner, it is probably a single-stage. Single stage simply means the air conditioner has only one operating speed. In contrast, two-stage air conditioners have two separate operating modes that increase your cooling system’s efficiency and your home’s comfort.

How do they work?

Understanding how each of these types of air conditioners work will allow you to more easily decide on which one is better for you and your home.

  • Single-stage air conditioners – Like a light switch, a single-stage air conditioner is either on or off. When your home’s temperature rises above your thermostat’s setting, it turns on 100% until your comfort level is reached and then turns off completely.
  • Two-stage air conditioners – A two-stage air conditioner is more like a fan switch: it can be off, on, or at a medium speed. When your air conditioner only needs to cool your home a few degrees, it uses its “lower gear” to accomplish the task more efficiently. And when the cooling load is more strenuous, it uses its higher speed to cool your home quickly.

Which one is better for me?

Everyone has different needs, budgets and requirements, so it is difficult to say whether a two-stage air conditioner will serve you better. There are pros and cons to both.

Two-Stage Air Conditioner

  • More energy efficient
  • Lower setting allows for quieter operation
  • Greater savings on energy bills
  • Cools your home much more quickly
  • Purchase price is more expensive

Single-Stage Air Conditioner

  • More affordable
  • Still very energy efficient
  • Sufficient in many smaller homes

Still not sure which is right for your Southern California home? Schedule a free in-home estimate with Service Champions and we will measure your home, listen to your concerns and help you select the air conditioner that fits both your needs and budget.

Service Champions continues to serve the air conditioning, heating and air quality needs of southern California residents with integrity and respect. Our service area includes Orange County, LA County, San Bernardino County, and Riverside County.