Zoning Systems Offer Benefits Beyond Temperature Control

June 23, 2014
Ross and Witmer

Do you have areas of your home that you can’t get to a comfortable temperature? Are you heating or cooling areas of your home that aren’t in use most of the day? Those are just a couple of reasons why homeowners install zoning systems into their houses.

What Is a Zoning System and How Does It Work?

A zoning system works by isolating the heating and cooling that goes to different areas, or zones, in the home. Each zone has its own programmable thermostat to control the temperature for that particular area.

When the thermostat detects that its zone temperature is out of range, it sends a signal to a central control unit. The central control unit tells the heating or cooling system to kick on, if it’s not already running. Then, it sends a signal to dampers in the ductwork that direct air to the zone requesting the heating or cooling.

When the thermostat detects the zone temperature is in the range, it sends a signal to the central control unit to stop the airflow. The central control sends signals to close off the dampers to that part of the house. It also shuts off the cooling or heating system, if no other zones have heating or cooling needs.

What Types of Homes Need Zoning Systems?

Most any home, except a one-room apartment, would benefit from having a zoning system installed. However, some homes are more obvious candidates:

  • Multi-level homes would benefit from zones on each floor, at a minimum. In the winter, for example, heat will rise into the second story of the home, leaving the basement freezing.
  • Large, open-living spaces, especially with vaulted ceilings, could use their own zones to handle the movement of air through the space.
  • Rooms far removed from the living space, like over the garage, could use a separate control for maximum comfort.
  • Finished rooms in the basement or attic have the same concerns as those in a true, multi-story home.
  • Rooms with expansive amounts of glass have different needs than other rooms in the house.
  • A rambling floor plan with wings going off in different directions would benefit from individual controls in each wing or space.

Benefits of Installing a Zoning System

Temperature control at the zone level is the most obvious plus. You can customize the zone settings to fit your household needs. However, there are other benefits that are not as obvious.

  • A zoned system will give you lower heating and cooling costs. Instead of heating or cooling the entire house when you’re just using the living room and kitchen, you can keep that area of the home comfortable and keep the rest of the house at more energy efficient temperatures.
  • A zoned system will be more comfortable for the home’s occupants. When a single thermostat runs the HVAC system in your home, the only place that will be at the set temperature is right in front of the thermostat. There will be hot or cold spots throughout the house. By having a thermostat controlling a smaller area of the home, those hot or cold spots are not going to happen.
  • A zoned system is usually quieter than a standard configuration. Instead of the HVAC system working at top levels to keep the entire house at a comfortable temperature, the system can work less yet deliver peak performance and efficiency.
  • A zoned system can prolong the HVAC system life. Because the system is running less and performing at highest efficiency, that means less wear and tear on the HVAC equipment. This means fewer repairs and a longer life.

Zoning systems can be installed in existing homes or added when building a new one. Besides the standard HVAC equipment, a zoned system needs a central control unit and individual thermostats in each zone. Dampers are added to the ductwork to direct air in the appropriate direction. Retrofitting this system into an existing home is not difficult with a qualified HVAC contractor.

If you want to talk to an HVAC professional about zoning systems for your home, contact Ross & Witmer. We proudly serve our neighbors in Mecklenburg, Gaston and Union counties.

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