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A Short Guide to Zoned Air Systems

March 14th, 2017

We all spend a lot of money keeping our homes warm in the winter and cool in the summer.  For many of us, this means paying to heat every room in the home at the same time.  Even when we’re sleeping our homes work to keep the entire building comfortable.  While switching to a smart thermostat and changing the temperature a few degrees will help you save some money, zoning your home’s forced air system will improve on those savings by adjusting to suit the temperature you need for individual rooms.  As an added bonus, a zoned system will also help regulate hot or cold rooms independently, keeping every room and everyone comfortable throughout the year.

What You Need for Zoned Air Systems

  • Control System
  • Thermostats
  • Zone Dampers

The central computer you use for your home will look like a smart thermostat.  But this core device is designed to read settings and temperatures from the thermostats stationed throughout your home.  The control system is responsible for regulating air flow throughout the vents in your home.  Rather than simply turning your unit on and off as a simple thermostat would do, the control system activates zone dampers to shift the direction of air flow and force air to different home zones in need of temperature regulation.

You can’t do all of this with only a single thermostat, however.  This is a problem with current homes and smart thermostats, they can only tell what temperature the current room is.  Setting up a zoned system will do you zero good if you aren’t monitoring temperature in the zones.  You need to select thermostat position carefully, accounting for which rooms heat up or cool off faster to gain efficient performance from your unit.

Finally, zone dampers are necessary for directing air flow.  These are specially designed dampers that remotely open and close within your ventilation system and are the most difficult part of a zoned installation.  Zone damper have to be planned carefully, as simply placing them to block a room will create backpressure in your system that can harm the blower fan in your central air system.  Placement of these dampers in the system needs to prevent backpressure while still directing airflow throughout the home.  The simpler your zone system, the less configurable it becomes but the easier it is to install.

Once you have a zoned system installed into your home you’ll find that the benefits of an efficient system, with an smart thermostat are boosted by only having to regulate temperature in rooms that are actively being used.

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