How to Tell If You Need a Zoned HVAC System

Have you ever had an argument with someone in your household over control of the thermostat? Sometimes, second-floor bedrooms can be hotter than the ground floor living areas. To make these hot rooms cooler, you’ll have to adjust the thermostat, but then your ground floor living areas might become too cold. This is a common problem  with central cooling.

The solution is a zoned residential AC system. If you’re thinking about replacing your old conventional HVAC unit, think about getting a zoned (multi-zone) unit in its place. 

In this post, you’ll learn more about zoned HVAC units and the benefits they provide over traditional HVAC units. In the process, you’ll be able to determine if it’s the kind of heating and cooling system that you need for your home or office.

HVAC Zoning Explained

Using dampers in the ductwork or air vents, a zoned HVAC system regulates and redirects air according to your preferences. It separates the heating and cooling system so you can set temperatures independently for each room or section of your home, otherwise known as zones.

A multi-zone residential or commercial AC automatically closes or opens the dampers according to the settings. Each zone has its own thermostat to control the temperature independently from the rest of the house or office floor.

For example, you can set your zoned HVAC system to provide more cooling to the upstairs bedrooms at night so you can sleep more comfortably. Then it can divert cool air to the downstairs kitchen, dining area and living room during the day when the bedrooms aren’t often occupied. This is also a good solution if you have rooms that get very hot during the summer, such as sunrooms.

For an office floor, a zoned commercial AC is virtually indispensable. You can set the thermostat so that your AC provides more cooling in the spaces that are occupied by employees most of the time. You can also set a lower temperature for offices along the perimeter, where the windows allow in more light and heat from the sun. Then, if you need to use a meeting or conference room, you can control the thermostat for that independent zone as well. No need to worry that unoccupied areas are receiving the same amount of cooling or heating as occupied areas.

The Top Benefits of a Zoned AC System

Energy efficiency. New air conditioning units are much more energy-efficient than older ones, but a new multi-zone HVACsystem is the best option because it’s even more energy efficient. By automatically or manually (via thermostat control) shutting the dampers in unoccupied rooms, diverting conditioned air to where it’s needed most, a zoned HVAC unit doesn’t have to use as much energy. Closing the vents may have a similar effect, but vents are less effective because they don’t seal as well as dampers do. Also, closing the vents of a conventional HVAC system often leads to a need for HVAC repair in the long run. 

Comfortable rooms all the time. With a zoned system, members of your household don’t have to argue about the temperature because they can set the thermostat to the temperature they prefer in each room. Even if one person adjusts the thermostat for their bedroom, for example, the rest of the house is unaffected.

No more hot or cold spots. A multi-zone HVAC system is effective at compensating for hot or cold spots in your home. Because the unit works in each zone independently, it gives cold spots the extra heat they need and hot spots some much-needed cooling so you can enjoy an even temperature throughout your house.

Is a Zoned AC System Right for Your Needs?

Not all homes or families can maximize the use of a zoned HVAC system. If you’re wondering whether a residential AC with zoning capability is a good fit for your home’s needs, you must first consider a few things. Below are the factors that make it the perfect solution; at least one of them should apply to your home:

  • Your home has more than one floor. It’s common for the upper floors to be hotter than the ground level floor because hot air naturally rises in a process called convection. Thus, it will find its way to second, third or higher floors. In the summer, the floor closest to the roof may also gain more heat.
  • Your home is large. A large home  will be expensive to heat and cool if the HVAC system is trying to keep up with every part of the house at once. A zoned HVAC system is built for such homes, as it doesn’t have a problem cooling or heating only the areas that are occupied.
  • You have a basement. A basement is usually colder than the ground floor of the home. A zoned AC can make it more comfortable without adversely affecting the rest of the house.
  • The area above your garage is a living space. Rooms built over a garage are usually affected more by the temperature in the garage than other areas of the home. A zoned AC can ensure that the room has a temperature that’s as comfortable as the rest of the house.
  • You have a sunroom. In general, sunrooms get extremely hot in the summer, and sometimes they can cause the entire house to feel uncomfortable. Lowering the temperature in the sunroom with a zoned AC can dramatically reduce its effect on the other rooms in your home.
  • Your home is wide with at least two wings. Wide homes often have issues with hot and cold spots. A zoned AC can get rid of these problems.
  • You have cathedral ceilings. It’s often harder for a conventional AC to heat or cool a home with cathedral ceilings, but a zoned AC makes light work of it.
  • There are large windows around your house. Big windows are great, but if they’re making your home too hot, you’ll need a zoned air conditioner to take care of this issue.

If you want to install or have questions about a zoned HVAC system, get in touch with Above Air Inc. We also offer professional HVAC repair services. Call us today at (954) 341-0816 (Broward) or (561) 488-0832 (Palm Beach), or fill out this form for a free estimate.