The idea of using a single light switch to control all of the lights in a home would seem ridiculous and impractical to any homeowner. After all, it does not make sense to pay to illuminate rooms that are not being used. The same is true of your HVAC system. The idea of being able to independently control the temperature within various areas of the home based on need and occupant preferences is becoming increasingly popular as a way of improving home comfort and reducing energy costs.
What Is A Zoned HVAC System?
Traditional forced air systems use one thermostat to control the heating and air conditioning of the entire home. Every room is the same temperature. This can lead to battles over the thermostat as various family members try to adjust the temperature to their liking. It also means that you are paying to heat or cool the basement even if you have not been down there in weeks. The only option for controlling the temperature in different parts of the house is to close the vents manually. Unfortunately, this reduces airflow, which can ultimately strain and shorten the life of your HVAC system.
A professionally-installed zoned HVAC system uses a series of dampers and separate thermostats for each area of the home. This allows the homeowner to set different temperatures throughout the house. You no longer have to pay to heat or cool the basement or upstairs bedrooms when they are not being used.
How Zoned HVAC Systems Work
The first key component of a zoned HVAC system is a series of motorized dampers. These dampers are placed inside the ducts or at the air outlet. Multiple dampers are connected together to create a zone. The number of zones in a particular home can vary based on square footage, the number of floors, room layout, and how the different rooms are used.
Each zone has its own thermostat that controls the heating and cooling operation in that area. The dampers and thermostats are connected to a central control panel that is also connected to the HVAC unit. This allows the unit to respond to requests from multiple thermostats.
If the thermostat from a particular zone calls for heating or air conditioning, the dampers in that zone will open to allow the air to flow into that area. The dampers in the rest of the home remain closed. If a second area needs heating or cooling, the corresponding dampers are opened. As each area of the home reaches the set temperature, those dampers are closed. When all sections of the home are at the desired temperature, the entire system shuts off.
Benefits of a HVAC Zoned System
A single HVAC system using zoned control is much less expensive than installing multiple HVAC systems for different areas of the home. The fact that you can shut down heating and cooling to unoccupied areas of the home can significantly reduce operating costs. The fact that zoned HVAC systems use air conditioning units with variable speed motors means that they use approximately one-third of the energy of a traditional system. This can reduce your energy costs by as much as 30 percent.
Limitations of Zoned HVAC Systems
There are limits as to how small you can make the zones. The system cannot deliver enough air to a small area to allow the equipment to cycle properly. For example, you would want to have the master bedroom and bath as part of the same zone instead of trying to have the bath as a separate zone.
It is also necessary to have a two-stage air conditioner along with a variable speed blower on the furnace or air handler. These units are more expensive than single-stage units; however, the higher purchase price is typically offset by increased efficiency and lower operating costs.
Installing Zoned Air Conditioning & Heating
Although installing zoned AC & furnace units is relatively straightforward, it is certainly something that should be left to a professional. The technician has to mount the units, connect the lines that carry the refrigerant, and make the necessary electrical connections. The technician needs to have the necessary knowledge of relay wiring in order to have the control board open all zones when the controls call for humidity distribution. The installation process can take anywhere from one to three days depending on the size and complexity of the installation.
Zone Controlled HVAC Service in the Denver Metro Area
At Swan Plumbing, Heating & Air, we can install a zoned HVAC system in your new construction home or retrofit your existing system. All of our technicians are North American Technician Excellence certified and undergo rigorous training before entering the field. We carry heating and cooling systems from leading manufacturers, and our installation experts can help you find the right system for your home. Call today to find out more about the benefits of a zoned HVAC system.