8 Benefits of an HVAC Zoning System

Most homes have a single-zone HVAC system. This type of HVAC uses a single thermostat, and when the system runs, it sends heated or cooled air throughout your entire home. Zoned HVAC systems are a better approach to heating or cooling your home effectively. Discover what a zoned system is, the different types available, and the eight benefits of having a zoned system in your home.

What Is a Zoned System?

A zoned system divides your home into different areas. As the name suggests, these areas are called zones. Each zone has its own thermostat to control the temperature in that area but runs off a central heating and cooling system.

When the thermostat registers the need for a heating or cooling cycle, the HVAC starts up. Since the zones are isolated, the HVAC will only heat or cool the zone that needs the conditioned air. There are two different types of zoning commonly used in residential settings.

Types of Zoning

The first type of zoning system is a ductless mini split. Ductless mini splits are essentially heat pumps with individual conditioning units, also called air handlers, in the zones around your home. Despite multiple indoor air handlers, the system runs to a single heat pump unit outside.

You can also have a single wall-mounted unit to condition one area while the rest of your house is managed by a central HVAC. This option works well if you have built an addition to your home but don’t want to connect it to your central HVAC system.

The other type of zoning works with the central HVAC system already installed in your home. This zoning system uses dampers in the ducts to open and close the zones when they need heating or cooling. The thermostats in the zones control the dampers and signal your HVAC system to start the appropriate cycle.

Benefits of a Zoned HVAC

1. Improved Comfort

Household temperature seems to be a constant struggle in most homes, with some people wanting it warmer and others preferring cool air. With single-zone systems, temperature fluctuation happens because the thermostat control is in one area, not receiving data from other areas of the home.

In a multi-zone system, each area of your home has a dedicated thermostat. Even set at the same temperature, you will experience more comfort in each zone because the system will continue to run until that area reaches the set temperature. Zoning allows you to customize your temperature adjustment if you need a particular area slightly warmer or cooler than the rest of the house.

2. Higher Efficiency

When your system has to heat or cool your entire home during a heating cycle, it pushes less of the conditioned air into the areas that need it most. This results in longer and potentially more frequent cycles.

A zoned system directs more conditioned air to the areas of your home that need it and less to the ones that don’t. As a result, you will benefit from shorter heating cycles while consuming less fuel and electricity.

3. Longer Service Life

An HVAC system’s service life depends on its cycle lengths and the frequency of cycle starts. Although it is rather obvious that your system will experience more wear the longer it runs, what’s not as obvious is the amount of wear that cycle starts put on your system. Starting is the most strenuous part of both the heating and cooling cycles. A furnace experiences a warm-up period when it starts, causing the heat exchanger to expand. The more frequently the heat exchanger heats and cools, the more quickly the metal weakens, risking a cracked heat exchanger. The system also has to start the circulating and inducer fans, which need a large burst of electricity stored in the furnace capacitor.

For an air conditioner, the most wear occurs when the compressor starts. This process breaks down both the compressor and the air conditioner capacitor. By lowering the frequency of the heating and cooling cycles and how long those cycles run, you decrease the wear on the system, effectively extending its service life.

4. Lower Heating and Cooling Costs

In addition to lengthening your service life, reducing the frequency and length of heating and cooling cycles also reduces your operational costs. Shorter cycles consume less electricity for both heating and cooling and less fuel for furnace cycles. Fewer starts also translate into less electricity used by the capacitors to start the systems.

5. Less Operational Noise

One of the chief complaints about central HVAC systems is the noise they generate while running. When a single-zone system cycles, you deal with noise throughout your house as the circulating fan pushes air from all supply vents.

In damper-regulated multi-zone systems, the dampers act as a form of sound insulation because air isn’t forced through the vents. This limits the noise to only those areas where the dampers are open. The same holds true with ductless mini split systems, where the air handler only runs in the area needing conditioning, reducing the noise elsewhere.

6. Better Air Quality

One of the challenges of single-zone systems is that they draw air in from around your home, including airborne contaminants. While most of these particles are caught by the air filter, some get through and are distributed back around your home, including areas with better air quality.

With multi-zone systems, potential contaminants stay in the area they originate, especially if you use a ductless mini split system. This ensures that if an area of your home needs more air quality attention, such as the bedroom of someone with severe asthma, you are not inadvertently adding additional contaminants through the HVAC system.

7. Less Air Stratification

Air stratification describes how cool, dense air sinks while warm, thin air rises. In multi-story homes, this is why your top floor may feel warmer than your lower floors.

Multi-zoned HVAC systems usually include at least one zone for the upper floors. The system will send less heat there in the winter and more cool air in the summer. The result is more even temperatures on all floors in your home without having to try to mess with adjusting vents.

8. Single-Unit Heating and Cooling

If you opt for a ductless mini split heat pump system, you may only need a single unit rather than separate air conditioning and heating units. This reduces your overall installation and maintenance costs. Some heat pumps can effectively heat your home when the outdoor temperature dips down to -12 degrees Fahrenheit, or you can opt for a dual-fuel heat pump for the frigid weather fronts that inevitably move through the area.

Homeowners around St. Peters have trusted Jerry Kelly Heating & Air Conditioning to keep their homes comfortable for the last 45 years. Our NATE-certified technicians provide heating and air conditioning installation, repair, and maintenance as well as indoor air quality and water heater solutions. Call Jerry Kelly Heating & Air Conditioning to schedule a consultation with one of our expert technicians to explore whether a zoned system is right for your home.

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