Multi-Stage Equipment – What Does This Mean To Me And My Comfort?

March 17, 2020
Posted in: Homeowner Tips

No doubt, as a consumer, you have likely heard terminology such a single stage, two-stage, variable and modulating.

While these terms may sound intriguing, if you don’t know the significance of each of them, you may not know which questions to ask the salesperson visiting your home to sell you knew heating and cooling equipment.

Single-Stage Systems

This type of system is the most simplistic, and the oldest type of heating and cooling system on the market. In this type of design, your furnace, for instance, will have a rated capacity for the fuel it will consume and the heat energy it can provide. For example, if you have a 100,000 btu/h furnace in your home when the thermostat asks it to come on you will get 100% of the heat energy that the unit is capable of delivering to the space. This is great when it’s really cold outside and your heating system is having to work to keep up with the heating demands, but what about those days when it’s just a little cool out? Do you really need all that heat energy coming on all at once?

Two Stage Systems

These types of systems have been around in the market place for 25 plus years, and certainly since the introduction of high efficiency condensing furnaces boasting higher than 92% efficiency. In this type of equipment design, your system capacity is broken up into two levels of “power” for lack of a better term. Many manufacturers will set these levels at approximately 50% and 100% of the rated capacity of the unit. Let’s use a two stage air conditioning system for this example.

Say for instance that your home requires 3 tons of cooling capacity on the hottest summer days. We all know that it is uncommon for those “hottest days” to last any more than a few days at a time however AC systems are generally sized for the “worst case” scenario. That is all well and good when it is really hot and humid for a few days at a time, but what about those days when it’s too warm to have the windows open but not so hot that the AC is running fairly constantly. Well, this is a great opportunity to utilize a two stage system. With the 50/100% configuration, the first stage would provide you 1.5 tons of cooling to your home. This has a wealth of benefits, the main one being better humidity control.

Variable or Modulating Systems

By now you can probably guess where this is going. If you are thinking that, as the name suggests, these types of systems use a modulating method to control how much heating or cooling is delivered to your space then you are correct!

As the name suggests, these systems rely on a slightly more advanced technology that enables the capacity of the system be raised and lowered in response to how quickly the temperature in the space is rising or falling. Many manufacturers of this type of technology will have these units start off at approximately 30% of their total capacity and modulate all the way up to 100%. Many will step up through that 70% differential in 1% increments. What does this mean to you? Well very simply, if you have a fully modulating heating and air conditioning system in your home, then you essentially have the exact sized furnace and air conditioner to handle whatever weather the environment wants to throw at you.

Want to know more about these systems and which one may be right for your home? Book a free, no obligation, in home consultation today by calling us at 905.493.4227 or send an email to

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


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