A zoned HVAC system is potentially one of the best investments you can make in your home comfort. While upgrading to a zoned system isn’t a simple task, it may still provide many great benefits. Before we look at the benefits in detail, we’ll first show you how a zoned HVAC system works and how it compares to a traditional system.

How a Zoned HVAC System Works

Traditional HVAC systems are set up in just a single zone. That means when the system runs, it supplies hot or cool air to every room and part of the house. You can close the vents in any room so that it doesn’t get heated or cooled. However, doing so will make your heating or air conditioning much less efficient since closed vents make it more difficult for an HVAC system to properly circulate air around the house.

The reason has to do with something known as static pressure, which is how much resistance the air flowing through a ductwork system meets. When vents are closed, heated or cooled air gets trapped and builds up inside the ducts. This causes a build-up of air pressure, which makes it harder for the blower to circulate all of the conditioned air the HVAC system continually pumps out.

To create a zoned system, technicians install metal dampers or gates at various points in the supply ductwork. This allows them to split up the HVAC system and home into smaller zones. A thermostat is also installed in each zone that controls that zone’s damper and opens and closes it as needed to keep that zone at the desired temperature. In a zoned system, you can set each thermostat at whatever temperature you want without impacting the rest of the home. In some cases, they will also add return ducts to your system to mitigate static pressure buildup when vents are closed.

When the thermostat in one zone calls for heating or cooling, the damper will automatically open and the HVAC system will supply air to only that zone unless any other zone is also warmer or cooler than it should be. When a zone reaches the correct temperature, its thermostat will signal the damper to close so that air no longer flows to that zone. However, the system will continue to run as long as necessary until every zone is at the right temperature.

The Benefits of an HVAC Zoning System

Lower Heating and Air Conditioning Costs

One of the biggest benefits of having a zoned HVAC system is that it can greatly reduce how much it costs to heat and cool your home. One reason is simply because you won’t always need to heat or cool your whole house at once like you do with a traditional single-zone system. If you have parts of your home or rooms that you rarely or never use, you can set them to a higher temperature in summer and a lower temperature during winter. This can save you even more money since it will reduce how often your HVAC system runs.

Another reason that a zoned system will cost much less to operate is that they are typically variable-speed HVAC systems. Variable-speed units have a huge number of power settings or speeds that they can automatically switch between so that they produce much less heating or cooling and consume much less energy.

Variable-speed units are recommended for a zoned system. If you had a traditional single-stage HVAC unit in a zoned system, it would likely have frequent issues with short cycling and possible overheating any time some of the zones were blocked off and not receiving air. This is because single-stage units can only run at 100% power and would end up producing much more hot or cool air than was needed unless all zones were open.

Depending on how many zones the system has and the size of the different zones, it may also be able to use a two-stage heating or cooling unit as long as it has a variable-speed blower. Having a variable-speed blower helps to prevent the static pressure in the system from increasing when only some zones are open. This is because it can slow down so that it circulates a smaller volume of air to prevent pressure from building inside the ducts when some zones are closed.

A variable-speed, zoned HVAC system will almost always end up being an extremely cost-effective option in the long run since it will work so efficiently. However, it probably isn’t worth the added cost unless you’re building a new home or already need to upgrade most of your HVAC system. One reason is that you will usually need to have much of your existing ductwork redone for a zoned system to work properly. Depending on the type and condition of your existing heating and/or cooling units, you may also need to replace them if you want to switch to a zoned system.

Longer Lifespan for the HVAC System

A zoned HVAC system can also help your furnace and air conditioner to last quite a bit longer. Variable-speed units generally always have a longer lifespan than single-stage units since they are under much less strain except on rare occasions when they need to run at full power. This means that they undergo much less wear and tear, which also makes them less prone to breaking down and needing repairs.

Eliminate Cold and Hot Spots in Your Home

The majority of homes have issues with some areas or rooms almost always being warmer or colder than others. This is especially the case for homes with more than one floor. In multi-story homes, the bottom floor tends to always stay colder while the top floor is always warmest because heat rises. Rooms with skylights or large windows, especially south- or west-facing windows, also tend to stay hotter due to all of the heat they receive from the sun.

A zoned HVAC system makes it easy to eliminate hot and cold spots and keep every part of the home as warm or cool as you wish. In a zoned heating system, the basement will always end up receiving more heat than the upper floors. This is because the heat that gets pumped out into the basement will slowly rise to help heat the upper floors. This means that the system won’t have to supply them with heat nearly as often, which is yet another way that a zoned system will save you money. A zoned cooling system will also supply more air to the upper floors to keep them cooler while also preventing the basement from being too cold.

Customized Temperature Control

Not everyone is as comfortable at the same temperature. Some people prefer their bedrooms warm and toasty while others can only sleep in a much cooler environment. If you have a zoned system where each bedroom is an individual zone, every person in your family can keep their room as warm or cool as they wish. This means you can avoid arguments over the thermostat while ensuring that everyone is fully comfortable.

Absolute Services is a family-owned company that has been providing reliable HVAC plumbing and electrical services in the Elizabethtown, Louisville and Lexington areas since 2008. If you’re considering a zoned system for your home, our technicians can evaluate your home and design a system that most effectively meets your specific wants and needs. We’re also ready to help if you need any heating or air conditioning repairs or maintenance. To schedule a consultation and learn if a zoned HVAC system is right for your home, contact us today.