Ask Dirk - Nevada Appeal Column photoAsk Dirk: What Are My Options When Buying or Replacing My Air Conditioner?

Overwhelmed by your choices when purchasing a new air conditioning system? Central air conditioners fall into three categories based on your budget and what works with your existing system. Here is a look at each category.

High-end air conditioners

The ultimate in comfort and efficiency

There’s no doubt you are paying a premium for comfort with high-end systems. If you like to run your AC all day and all night to maintain a steady 72 to 73 degrees, these are the systems for you. As the name implies, high-end central air conditioners tend to be the most expensive. You’re paying for comfort and quiet with these systems and may not recover your costs in energy savings over the lifetime of the equipment.

Precise temperature control

When paired with the right furnace, an air conditioner with multiple cooling levels can reach your set temperature more efficiently and accurately. Instead of switching on and blasting cold air, these systems can use lower stages of cooling.

Lower capacity = steady temperature

Variable speed air conditioning operates at lower capacities during the day, depending on how hot it is outside. Single stage systems blast cold air until it reaches a certain temperature. Variable speed runs longer at lower capacities keeping a steady temperature throughout the day.

Clean is good

Additionally, variable speed AC can also act as an air purifier, filtering your air if you run the blower constantly at lower speed and capacity. This helps to improve indoor air quality, reduce contaminants, limit mold growth and prevent dust mites.

Quiet is better

Variable speed systems run more quietly than single- or double-stage units.

Mid-range air conditioners

Cost less to own

Mid-range air conditioners often have the lowest cost of ownership over the life-time of the equipment.

Mid-range air conditioners are typically two-stage systems. A two-stage system offers two operating speeds: high and low.


Two-stage systems will run at full capacity when necessary and at a lower level when it’s not. Less cycling equals lower energy bills and the system may pay for itself with energy savings over the years.

Budget friendly solutions

The basic AC system

Many cooling systems are single-stage systems with one level of cooling. Single stage systems may have the lowest upfront cost. They turn on when the indoor temperature exceeds the setting on the thermostat. Single-stage air conditioners are the least expensive to buy and generally cost less to install. They have tried and true technology are great for their simplicity and reliability, as well as their lower cost.

Not so efficient, but still reliable

Single-stage air conditioners are the least efficient. They draw more electricity because they run at 100 percent capacity, turning on and off throughout the day. If keeping upfront cost low is important to you, you’ll be happy with this system.

So, which do you choose?

The type of system you choose depends on the size and design of your home, your existing furnace, your needs and your budget. If comfort and quiet are important to you, you may consider going with a two-speed or variable speed. If lower upfront cost is more important to you, stick with a single stage system, again, only if it meets your needs.

Do your research, then talk to a reputable dealer. You’ll feel better making an informed decision, and you’ll find the right system for your situation.

 — Dirk

About Roper’s Heating and Air Conditioning: For more than30 years Roper’s Heating and Air Conditioning has been providing essential indoor climate management services to the citizens of western Nevada. Roper’s is a family-owned, community-oriented business that specializes in the restoration and preservation of Total Home Comfort. Roper’s Heating and Air Conditioning is located at 2062 S. Edmonds Drive in Carson City. For more information, visit