I never understood the need for a 2-stage controller. I need to cool or heat my fermenters, never both. And you can buy 2 single-stage controllers for the same $$.
My beers improved substantially when I upgraded to a two-stage controller.
During the first few days of fermentation, it's all about fighting against the heat generated by the fermentation to keep a steady temperature - No heating required, that's for sure. But once the yeast slow down, that internal heating effect essentially ceases. But the beer isn't _done_ yet - I still want to keep the beer in contact with 'awake' yeast for several more days to clean up.
The need to apply heat during that second stage (still in the primary fermentation vessel, mind you - I don't normally secondary) come about because my chest freezer is almost too efficient. Even if it just runs for a minute or so, the temperature in there will drop 10+ degrees easily. That's enough of a swing to cause the yeast to floc out before I want it to.
My brewery is also an uninsulated Southern California garage, which experiences pretty severe temperature swings (it was 90 degrees 4 days ago, today it's 63). If I had a basement that kept a steady ambient temperature in the low 60s, I doubt I would bother with any of this controller stuff. But with my setup I can brew any beer at any time of the year, so I can't complain. To me, it's totally worth the extra $50 or so.