Multi-Stage Equipment – Understanding How It Works And The Benefit

April 8, 2020
Posted in: Homeowner Tips

Perhaps you’ve read our other blog titled “Multi-Stage Equipment – What Does This Mean To Me And My Comfort?

If not, you will still get some great insight from this article, however to truly understand the systems and their features, please use this link to learn more.

Often times we have sat down with clients in their home to discuss some of the challenges they have faced over the years while trying to achieve their desired comfort level throughout the entire home.  It is not uncommon for people to remark that they are able to get the temperature to be perfect on the main floor, but then the bedrooms are too warm or cold, and this issue is generally even worse in the basement.

The main reason for this is that most homes are controlled from a centralized thermostat, and even the most well thought out placement for this control can still have limitations on just how accurately it can regulate the temperature of areas that it is not in direct contact with.  There are some options on the market for thermostats with remote sensors which can allow for a sampling and temperature averaging feature to be utilized; but again, this is not without its limitations either.

In fact if a customer desires the best combination of technologies to help combat this difficult balance of temperature in the home, they should consider utilizing the type of multiple temperature zone sensing thermostats discussed above in conjunction with a 2 stage or modulating system heating and cooling system.

Many homes utilize single stage equipment, meaning that when it is running, you get all of its rated capacity.  However there are days that you just don’t need the full capacity of your furnace or air conditioner all at once.  In fact there are many times that a single stage system will come on for a very short run period and go off again.  This is referred to as short cycling, and not only does it contribute to poor temperature balance, it is really hard on your equipment and your wallet.  Think about driving your car fast and then stopping abruptly, only to do this over and over again every 5, 10, or 15 minutes.  How long before your car would start to show signs of this abuse?  How much fuel do you think you would burn?

With 2 stage systems, there is the ability to utilize two predetermined capacities of the system.  For example, let’s say you have an 80,000 btu/hour furnace in your home.  If it is 2 stage, the unit would start on 1st stage and would deliver approximately half of the full rated heating capacity of the unit.  The benefit of this is that the home heats more evenly over a slightly longer run cycle because the thermostat located on the main floor does not see a drastic rise in the temperature which would normally tell it to shut the furnace down.  Instead, the unit uses less fuel and electricity while running a longer cycle which enables the heated air to move about the home more and therefore even out the delivery of heat to the various areas of the home.

If after a period of time the unit is still running, it has the internal programming to move up to the 2nd stage 9 or full capacity) to help ensure that the desired temperature is reached within a desirable period of time.

With multi-stage, or modulating systems, this type of operating characteristic is taken to another level.  Let’s say for instance that you have a 3 ton air conditioning system in your home.  If it were a modulating type of unit, when the thermostat told it to start, it would do so at roughly 30% of its full capacity.  With modulating furnaces and AC units, many manufacturers have built in technology that enables the system to step up the unit’s capacity in 1% increments.  That is basically like having about 70 different sized AC systems in one tidy box beside your home. This technology is also available for the furnace in your basement.

Another added benefit of modulating technology is the ability of this type of system to regulate humidity. How many times have you felt that it is damp in a home, but not necessarily hot?  Well that presence of moisture can cause discomfort as well, and if left to climb too high in the home, it can also contribute to the growth of mold and bacteria. Modulating systems can be set to run at a low capacity such that humidity is removed without the home becoming too cool for your comfort.

If you would like to learn more about which type of system may be best suited to your particular situation, do not hesitate to contact us. We will gladly arrange a no obligation in home consultation where our trained Comfort Consultants can learn about your concerns and offer solutions to help you achieve greater comfort in your home.

See our next blog in this series entitled “Controlling humidity in the home” for more information on how choosing the right system and related components can not only improve your homes energy efficiency and lower your bills; you can also achieve better overall comfort and reap some health benefits as well!

If you would like to book a no obligation in home consultation, contact us at 905-493-4227 or email us at


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