Zoned HVAC: Innovation allows Separate Climate Zones from Single HVAC Unit

 In Air Ducts, Keeping Cool, Products & Equipment

For all things that bake under the sun, there is something new under the sun to keep you cool this summer and for years to come: zoned heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC).

An HVAC zoning system allows homeowners to create customized climate zones in their homes to avoid the Goldilocks syndrome of one room that is always too hot and another that is always too cold. In addition, they accommodate the temperature preferences of different family members. The secret? A system of dampers in the ductwork and separate thermostats provide different climates to different rooms.

Early Attempts at the ‘Better Mousetrap’

In the 1990s, programmable thermostats allowed homeowners to set their thermostats to raise or lower the temperature after everyone left for work and school in the mornings, and set them to begin to resume a comfortable setting, say, 30 minutes before family members would begin to return home in the afternoon or evening.

The idea behind the “set it and forget it” innovation was about efficiency and convenience. In the hustle of families trying to get out the door in the mornings for work and school, remembering to adjust the thermostat up or down could be permanently crossed off the checklist.

Today’s version of “set it and forget it” is a zoned HVAC system, which are still convenient and highly efficient.

An Advance in Air-Flow Efficiency

In most homes, a single HVAC unit is controlled by a single thermostat delivering one temperature to all the rooms through the system’s ductwork.

In a zoned HVAC system, a single HVAC unit can produce separate climate zones using separate thermostats to control a system of dampers in the ductwork. As each zone’s thermostat is set, dampers open or close to permit or restrict air flow to that zone. Carrier and most other HVAC manufacturers offer systems that provide four distinct climate zones.

One such system is the Carrier Performance Comfortzone II Zoning System, which features thermostats that allow simple programming of temperature and humidity levels in seven-day cycles for up to four zones.

Zoned HVAC systems do more than maximize the climate comfort level of a home. They save energy – and money. According to the U.S. Department Energy, using a zoned system can produce an energy saving of up to 35 percent. This is especially true in homes with large windows that face the afternoon sun, a basement that always seems colder than the first floor or special-use rooms such as a home gym that needs to be especially well ventilated.

Helpful Tip: Avoid the Bypass Duct

When having a zoned HVAC system installed in your home, in addition to dampers being installed into each zone’s ductwork, you also might have a bypass duct installed. The reason for a bypass duct is to relieve extra static pressure that air handlers create when the system calls for air to flow through only some of the ducts.

Unfortunately, bypass ducts create more problems than they solve, so don’t include them in your installation.

In an article about the “hidden flaw” of zone systems, recommends that, despite their purpose of relieving excess static pressure, bypass ducts should not be used because they direct cold air back to the air handler, reducing the temperature of the air coming in to be cooled. This is likely to lead to the evaporator coil freezing up. Bypass ducts also tend to steal air that should be directed into the rooms, or zones, of the home.

An HVAC zoning system, the newest innovation in making residential heating and cooling more efficient and more convenient, turns the output from a single unit into separate zones of customized climate throughout the home. To learn more about how these systems work and whether they might be right for your home, call Barineau at (850) 580-4029.

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