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Variable Speed vs. Two-Stage vs. Single-Stage HVAC Systems Explained


What is a single-stage system?

Single-stage, or single-speed, systems are the most basic systems. They have two settings: on or off, meaning they operate at full capacity or not at all. These systems work at full speed to cool down hot outdoor temperatures that impact your home, as the system shuts off completely once the indoor temperature has cooled down.


What is a two-stage system?

Two-stage, or two-speed, systems take single-stage systems up a notch and control the temperature in your home a bit more accurately. While single-stage systems must be at either 0 percent or 100 percent capacity, two-stage systems add more variety by offering a high and low setting. In most cases, the low stage operates around 65 percent capacity, while the high stage operates at 100 percent capacity. Compared to single-stage systems, the two-stage system offers a middle ground for temperature control.


What is a variable speed system?

Variable speed, or variable stage, systems are the most efficient and advanced systems on the market. When you set a temperature on your thermostat, a variable speed system takes into account the indoor and outdoor temperatures, the indoor and outdoor humidity levels, and the run time needed to reach your desired temperature, in order to determine the appropriate output. Variable speed systems can operate anywhere from 25 percent capacity to 100 percent capacity to meet your temperature needs. Variable speed systems reach and maintain your home's desired temperature within half a degree.


For all your plumbing, heating, and cooling needs give us a call at Service First Tradeworks Ltd. (250) 832-5558 or (250) 675-3668.

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