If you’ve ever lived in a home or worked in an office with other people, you know that people have a wide range of personal temperature preferences. Maybe your live-in Grandma prefers a sweltering 80 degree temperature in her room, while you prefer a more brisk 72.
Or maybe your commercial property has big rooms with huge windows in the front of the building, and tiny enclosed rooms in the back. You turn on the air conditioning to cool the big offices in front, and the tiny ones in back quickly turn into a frozen tundra. The exact opposite probably happens in the winter. What to do? Enter HVAC zoning.
What is HVAC Zoning?
In North Carolina, most multilevel residences and larger sized homes are zoned. They have a separate thermostat for each zone, and each zone is connected to it’s own single-duct heating and cooling system. That is why you’ll notice two compressors outside of most two story homes. In this scenario, the home itself is zoned, but the HVAC system isn’t.
In a zoned HVAC system, different areas (or zones) throughout a single-duct system can be controlled with multiple thermostats. You could have a separate zone for the bedrooms, one for the kitchen, and one for the common areas. The zones will usually be divided into areas with similar heating and cooling needs.
How Does HVAC Zoning Work?
Zoning is a relatively simple concept, but it should definitely be left up to your local HVAC professionals. Zoning is accomplished with a series of components.
- Motorized Dampers. These dampers open or close, fully or partially, based on what the zone thermostat tells it to do. A closed or partially closed damper will stop or reduce the flow of conditioned air into the zone. More than one damper may be controlled together if multiple ducts serve the same zone.
- Zone Thermostats. Each zone uses a thermostat to sense the local temperature, and controls the heating and cooling for its individual zone.
- Central Control Panel. Each thermostat and dampers are connected to the central control panel. This allows the unit to be controlled by multiple thermostats.
What Are the Benefits of Zoned HVAC Systems?
When it comes to staying comfortable, every home or office has it’s trouble spots. The guest room over your garage may be extra cold in the winter, because the space below is less insulated. Your in-laws visiting don’t need another reason to complain. Zoned HVAC systems give you the ability to eliminate hold and cold spots, and control the temperature in each zone.
A zoned heating and cooling system with multiple programmable thermostats can also save you up to 30% on your energy bill. Simply zoning your residential or commercial HVAC system with no other changes in behavior will not likely lead to significant energy savings. The energy savings come into play when you utilize your zoning system’s ability to restrict heating or AC in specific areas and/or reduce usage in areas when occupants aren’t present.
What About Smart Vents?
There’s a “smart” product for everything you can imagine these days. When it come to HVAC, smart vents might sound like a pretty nifty idea, but they actually are not recommended by professionals in the heating and cooling industry.
Smart vents are designed to achieve the zoning effect by closing vents in certain rooms. This may seem like a logical way to accomplish DIY zoning, but it can actually cause problems. When you block airflow through a vent, it causes increased air pressure in your ducts. This can leads to leaks, noisier operation, increased strain on your system, reduced efficiency, and ultimately the need for repairs.
If you need HVAC repair or installation in the Durham, Chapel Hill, or Hillsborough area, contact your local licensed professionals at All Weather Heating and Cooling today. We offer fast, friendly, 24/7 service. Please call us at 919-967-9775 or fill out the form below.