If you have a large or multi-story home, it can often be difficult to properly control the temperature throughout the entire building. Many people in these situations complain about insufficient heating and cooling in some parts of the home or experience frequent issues with hot and cold spots in different areas of the building. A multi-zone HVAC system is one of the best ways to eliminate these issues while also providing a number of other important benefits. With this in mind, let’s take a deeper look at what exactly a multi-zone HVAC system is and how it works.
How Does a Multi-Zone HVAC System Work?
A multi-zone HVAC system basically splits up your home into smaller areas or zones and allows you to independently control the temperature for each zone. Depending on the layout of your home and your specific wants and needs, you could simply create a different zone for each floor or even create separate zones for every room in the home.
No matter how many zones you have, each one will have its own separate thermostat that measures and controls the temperature for that zone only. This enables you to set the temperature for that zone without affecting the rest of the building. The only real limitation is that you cannot have one zone set to heating and another zone set to cooling since all of the air still flows through the same air handler and ductwork.
A multi-zone system works using dampers, which are essentially metal plates located inside the ductwork that can open and close to control the airflow to each zone. This works in a similar way to closing the supply vents to one room or part of the home. The difference is that closing the vents only blocks air from reaching that room, which means air will still flow through that branch of the ductwork.
This is generally not recommended as it can lead to a pressure imbalance inside the HVAC system, which can interfere with how well and how efficiently the system heats or cools. It also increases the strain on your furnace or air conditioner and can lead to increased wear and tear on its components. Multi-zone HVAC systems don’t suffer from these pressure imbalance issues as the damper blocks off the entire branch or section of the ductwork instead of simply shutting it off at the end of the branch as happens when you close the vents.
Although each zone has its own thermostat, the system is still controlled by one central control panel. When a certain zone needs hot or cold air, the control panel signals the damper for that zone to open to allow air to flow to the zone. Once the zone reaches the set temperature, the thermostat in that zone sends a signal to the central control panel to close the damper for the zone. Depending on the size and layout of the zones, each zone may have just a single damper or multiple dampers that control the airflow to that zone.
Advantages of Multi-Zone HVAC Systems
The biggest advantage of multi-zone systems is that they can dramatically reduce your heating and cooling costs since you will no longer have to heat or cool the entire home at one time. For instance, if you rarely use your basement or another part of the home, you can leave that zone set to a higher temperature in the summer and a lower temperature in the winter.
Multi-zone systems also provide far greater control over your HVAC system and can help overcome issues with hot and cold spots or uneven heating and cooling. Since your basement likely stays cooler than the main floor or upper level of your home, you could redirect more heat to it during the winter. The fact that heat rises means that this would then allow you to set the thermostats in the upper zones to a slightly lower temperature. You could also do the opposite during the summer and direct more of the cooled air from your AC to the upper floors which are likely to be quite a bit warmer.
A multi-zone system can also help to improve the indoor air quality in your home. Your HVAC air filter is only so effective at trapping dust, pollen and other airborne particles. When your system is turned on, it will always capture and spread some of those particles throughout the home. Since a zoned system only directs air to part of the home, you can minimize the amount of allergens and contaminants that are spread every time your system runs.
Is a Multi-Zone System Right for My Home?
A zoned HVAC system is probably not worth the additional cost if you live in a small, single-level home. That is, unless you frequently experience issues with parts of your home being much hotter or colder than other areas. If you have a large home or one on multiple floors, you will also definitely see some major benefits with a multi-zone system.
A zone-control system is also a great choice for homes with high ceilings. The fact that heat rises means it is often much more difficult to keep a room with high ceilings warm enough since all of the hot air from your furnace will settle up near the ceiling leaving you freezing down below. With a multi-zone system, you can set the temperature in the rooms with high ceilings warmer so that hot air circulates to that room much more frequently to help keep it warmer.
A zone-control system is also a great choice if you have skylights or lots of large windows since these can drastically increase the temperature in those rooms. With a multi-zone system, you can set separate zones for those rooms or areas with skylights or large windows. In this case, you can have your AC run more frequently in those zones to ensure they stay cooler without affecting the temperature in the rest of the home. Then during the winter, you can set the thermostat lower since all of the light streaming through the windows or skylights will help to heat those areas.
Professional, Local HVAC Services
With two offices in Jacksonville and Bunnell, McGowan's Heating & Air Conditioning provides professional heating and cooling services to customers throughout Northeast Florida. If you’re considering upgrading your home to a multi-zone HVAC system, our expert technicians can help you every step of the way, from designing the zones to installing the system. We also specialize in the full spectrum of heating and cooling services including new equipment installations, maintenance and repairs. If you’re building a new home or another new construction project, our team can handle every aspect of designing and installing a full heating and cooling system from start to finish. We work on all types of residential and commercial HVAC systems, and we also offer a range of other services including air duct cleaning, indoor air quality testing and equipment and attic insulation.
Don’t suffer from high energy bills and uneven heating or poor home comfort any longer. Instead, give the team at McGowan's Heating & Air Conditioning a call today to learn more about the benefits that a multi-zone HVAC system can bring to your Jacksonville home.