Two-stage ACs offer more comfort at lower operational costs (compared to single-stage units).
You might be thinking: “That sounds great! Why the heck wouldn’t I choose that option?”
Well, it all comes down to price.
You see, two-stage ACs have higher upfront prices than single-stage units, so it really depends on your budget:
In this article, we’ll explain:
The price difference between two-stage and single-stage
How two-stage is beneficial for Minnesota’s climate
But first, let’s make sure we’re all on the same page as to what “two-stage” and “single-stage” really mean…
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The bottom line: Two-stage AC units can operate at two different speeds while single-stage units only have one speed.
A two-stage unit has a “HIGH” speed (100% capacity) and a “LOW” speed (67% capacity). The main benefit here is that the AC can “ramp down” to a lower speed on mild temperature days so that it consumes less energy—without sacrificing comfort.
A single-stage unit, on the other hand, only has one speed: “HIGH”. So, anytime the system calls for cooling, the AC jumps on and blasts cold air at 100% capacity. That said, these units eat up more energy in 2 ways:
So now that we know how they work, let’s look at how much more you can expect to pay for a two-stage vs a single-stage…
The bottom line: A two-stage AC unit typically costs anywhere from $1,000–$2,500+ more than a single-stage AC unit.
Note: The price difference between these two ACs vary depending on SEER, tonnage, etc of the units. The only way to get a true cost difference is to get a professional estimate. For more on AC install cost factors, check out our blog, “How Much Does It Cost to Replace an AC in Minneapolis?”.
But remember—two-stage units offer lower operational costs. So really, you’re trading a higher upfront cost for lower monthly energy bills.
That said, let’s answer the next logical question…
Unfortunately, for Minnesota homeowners, the answer is usually no.
Here’s why: Minnesota has a much shorter cooling season than the majority of the country. And, because most Minnesota homeowners would only run a two-stage AC for 3 months out of the year, they’re not going to accumulate nearly as much savings over the lifetime of the AC unit as, say, a Florida or Arizona homeowner would.
So should you rule out a two-stage unit completely? No.
In fact, because they offer such a higher degree of comfort, two-stage units are still a great option for Minnesota homeowners who don’t mind spending more.
Minnesota’s summers often bring mild temperatures but high humidity levels. And the 2nd “LOW” speed option makes a two-stage unit specifically well-suited for this climate.
For example, a two-stage unit offers:
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