If you are a homeowner looking to save money, conserve energy, maximize efficiency, and dramatically improve your home’s overall comfort levels, a dual-zone air conditioner is one of the best investments you can make. This revolutionary type of HVAC technology is particularly excellent if there are rooms in your home that are regularly left unoccupied or if you have noticed that certain areas are vastly warmer or cooler than others.
Dual-zone air conditioners can cool different rooms differently, depending upon your preference. But if a dual-zone system can do the job of multiple air conditioners, does it require multiple units? In this article, we’ll explain the particulars of how this relatively new—and increasingly popular—cooling technology works and what equipment you’ll need to begin taking advantage of it.
Dual-zone HVAC systems divide your house according to zones. Using multiple thermostats, sensors, and modulating dampers, the system can control the temperature within these different zones. Each zone is controlled by its own thermostat, allowing you to set different temperatures for different areas of the home. Dual-zone systems can be used for your air-conditioning system as well as your heating system. You keep each area of your house set to the ideal temperature, even if that means heating one space while cooling the other simultaneously.
It’s possible your household members have different preferences and the ideal temperature is not the same for each person. Whereas in the past, this may have led to some nasty arguments, with dual-zone cooling, it’s now possible to increase the temperature in one zone and reduce it in another, catering to different temperature goals. Maybe one part of your house gets hotter than the rest as a result of less-than-ideal ventilation. With a dual-zone system, you can keep that room cooler without freezing the rest of the house.
Many people, especially those who work from home, spend the majority of their time in only one or two rooms of the house while the rest of the home remains empty for most of the day. If this is the case, why waste energy (and money) cooling the empty rooms? If you live in a two-story house and are downstairs for the day, turn down the thermostat upstairs. Program the thermostat to switch on when you retire upstairs at the end of the day. With a dual-zone air conditioner, you can personalize the settings to fit your household’s specific needs.
The first step in setting up a dual-zone air conditioner is dividing your house into zones, or areas of the house. You should discuss where, exactly, these zones will be with your HVAC installer. Most homeowners are satisfied by dividing their homes into just two areas: usually either upstairs and downstairs or, otherwise, the front of the house and the back of the house. There is no limit to zoning, however. If you wish, you can opt to have every single room in the home serve as its own HVAC zone.
Each zone will have its own thermostat connecting to a central control panel. Even though there are multiple thermostats, there is no need for multiple units. The HVAC dampers regulate the airflow of both heating and cooling systems, meaning only one unit is necessary. These zoned systems allow for one unit to control heating and cooling in multiple areas or rooms.
How does zoning work with a single unit? The zoning dampers, which are valves or plates, are installed in the ducts within your house. Or, if your system is ductless, they are installed directly at the air outlets. These dampers regulate the airflow by opening and closing. The dampers open, allowing cool or warm air through, then close once the room reaches the desired temperature set by the thermostat. Once the damper closes, it blocks the airflow. Whenever you change the setting of the thermostat, a message is sent to the central control panel signaling the change.
There are several key benefits to a dual-zone air conditioner and a dual-zone heater. Zoning enables you to heat or cool one area (or zone) of the house rather than wasting valuable (and expensive) energy on unoccupied spaces. Making the switch to a dual-zone system will improve the overall thermodynamic efficiency of your home. In layman’s terms, this means you’ll start saving on your energy bill almost immediately.
Besides the cost savings, convenience is also a major reason many people choose to switch to zoned HVAC systems. Multiple thermostats offer vastly increased control over the temperature in the home, allowing each occupant to enjoy their own preferred comfort level.
Zoning can also improve air quality by reducing particulate matter and other such impurities from circulating throughout the home. While all HVAC systems filter the air somewhat, dust, pollen, and pet dander will often still be caught up in the cycle and can contribute to asthma, allergies, and other respiratory conditions. Zoned air conditioning reduces the amount of air that needs to circulate, directly contributing to a dramatic reduction in pollutants as well.
You may want to consider installing a dual-zone HVAC system if you have a multi-level home, high ceilings, or large windows. Any of these features can dramatically affect the temperatures of your home since warm air always rises toward the top of the home and large windows let in more sunlight—and therefore more heat. Multi-level homes and high ceilings can often leave lower levels uncomfortably cold while top floors remain hot and stuffy.
If these situations sound familiar to you, or if you simply are tired of adjusting the thermostat every time you leave one room to enter another, then a dual-zone air conditioner may just be right for you.
If you decide that a dual-zone HVAC system is an appropriate choice, your next step should be to contact a reputable contractor in your area, such as Entek HVAC. Contractors like these can provide expert service and top-quality products to ensure your air conditioning is the best that it can possibly be.