When it comes to indoor comfort, efficiency is extremely important. You only want to use as much energy as needed to maintain a comfortable home. What’s more, lots of houses have trouble spots that seem to struggle with staying the same temperature. Maybe it’s because of a high ceiling or your large living room windows, but stubborn hot and cold spots reduce the efficiency of your HVAC system. Fortunately, there’s a solution.
Installing a zoned HVAC system can be a great way to improve comfort and energy efficiency. But before you make the decision to install one, it’s important to understand how they work and whether or not they’re right for your home. Here’s a brief look at the pros and cons of zoned HVAC equipment:
Pros of Zoned HVAC:
- More energy efficient than standard HVAC systems
- Can improve comfort by allowing you to customize temperatures in different areas
- May help improve indoor air quality with improvements to airflow
Cons of Zoned HVAC:
- Can be more expensive to install than HVAC systems without zoning
- May require professional installation
- Isn’t always compatible with your existing HVAC system
What Is an HVAC Zoning System?
Zoned HVAC systems are designed to heat and cool specific areas or “zones” of your home. This allows you to adjust the temperature in individual zones and better control your energy usage. Installing a zoning system is a great way to resolve those frustrating hot and cold spots.
There are two main ways to create a zoned HVAC system: ducted and ductless.
- Ducted systems use a network of dampers (like those on your supply and return vents) and your existing ductwork to deliver heating and cooling to each zone. As air flows through the air ducts, the dampers redirect it toward the zones you’ve prioritized.
- Ductless systems, meanwhile, require no ductwork and instead use individual air handlers mounted in each zone. For example, a ductless mini-split system with one outdoor unit and three indoor units is a zoned HVAC system because you can individually adjust each indoor air handler’s temperature.
Can I Zone an Existing HVAC System?
Yes! It’s easy to zone an existing HVAC system, but it may depend on the type you have. Central, forced-air HVAC systems have the necessary ductwork for airflow and to fix the zone dampers in place. And if you have a ductless system, upgrading your thermostat or using a controller from the manufacturer allows you to create zones.
Other types of HVAC systems, however, aren’t compatible with zoning. Radiant floor heating is one such type since it uses water or another liquid instead of air. Lacking dampers, radiant floor heating is designed for consistent temperature distribution across the entire system. It’s very efficient, the design isn’t equipped to work with zoning systems.
How to Figure Out if Zoned HVAC Is Right for You
If you want to determine whether a zoned HVAC system is worth installing, ask yourself a few questions about your home, existing equipment and comfort needs:
Are there irritating hot and cold spots in your home?
Does your existing HVAC system have ventilation or separate indoor air handlers?
What is the size of your family? Do they have different comfort preferences?
And if you’re still unsure, a professional HVAC technician can help. They have years of experience using your heating and cooling needs to recommend the perfect solutions, including a zoned HVAC system. They’ll be able to tell you if the pros outweigh the cons, and the right technician can even ensure seamless installation!