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ductless mini-split system


ductless mini-splitThe HVAC in many homes has traditionally been a single-goal system: achieve a universal indoor temperature according to the thermostat setting.

If you set the thermostat at 72°F, either the AC or the furnace will activate whenever the ambient temperature falls below 72°. It will continue to run until it senses the air in the home is 72° throughout. This can also often be influenced by the thermostat’s location.

At the same time, many homes have different sizes and layouts. Certain rooms can have their own traits. We might use and occupy some areas (e.g. family room, living room, loft) more than others (e.g. attic, guest room, basement).

Traditional HVAC applies equal effort regardless of varying factors. As a result, we can draw energy we don’t need, place extra strain on the system and pay for energy that doesn’t benefit us.

What Is an HVAC Zoning System?

An HVAC zoning system solves traditional systems’ limitations by including dampers in the ductwork to regulate and redirect air to specific areas of your home. By doing this, zoning creates consistent airflow and customized temperature zones throughout the home for greater comfort and efficiency.

Just about every home can benefit from an HVAC zoning system. This is because most houses have at least one room that’s either too hot or too cold. Many also have occupants with different temperature preferences.

Examples of homes that can greatly benefit from zoning include those with:

  • more than one floor
  • finished and unfinished basements
  • high ceilings
  • several large windows
  • living space in the attic
  • sunroom or other addition
  • room over the garage
  • large floor plan with one or more wings

In any of these circumstances, zoning lets you achieve different comfort levels while saving extra energy. The U.S. Department of Energy estimates that an HVAC zoning system can save homeowners up to 30% on typical heating and cooling costs. Zoning also reduces the HVAC system’s carbon emissions.

HVAC Zoning System Formats

Zoning can be schemed in different ways. For example, large homes might be zoned with one thermostat downstairs and another one upstairs for controlling conditions on the separate levels.

In other houses, zoning might feature two HVAC systems managing temperatures in various parts of the home.

Yet another type of zoning can be a single HVAC system with multiple runs from the main trunk (the part of the ductwork closest to the furnace blower).

Some houses may have been constructed with zoning in mind, but they don’t have a system in place. A house that was built for zoning will have dedicated trunks and ducts. For example, a trunk duct serves the upstairs, a trunk duct serves the downstairs and another separate trunk serves the master bedroom (a total of three dampers).

If that was your arrangement, you could decide to have zones. With most of the installation completed, you could just add thermostats and a zone panel, and once the dampers are properly wired, the system would be ready to accommodate you.

If the home wasn’t built with possible zoning, you could still retrofit a duct system that isolates the runouts and places dampers on them, such as one to serve the upstairs and one to serve the downstairs.

Zoning with Ductless Mini-Splits

Yet another approach to zoning is installing a mini-split system, which heats and cools individual rooms without ductwork. Ductless mini-splits let you maintain the temperatures you like in specific rooms without having to run your central air throughout the house.

To cool a room in warmer seasons, mini-splits use thin copper tubing to pump refrigerant from an outdoor compressor into an indoor air-handling unit that distributes the air to the rooms in which they’re included.

To warm a room in cooler seasons, the ductless mini-split transfers heat from a cool space (outdoors) to a warm space (indoors), which makes the cool space cooler and the warm space warmer.

Mini-splits are highly efficient because they transfer heat into or out of your house without generating it. Most central heat sources require a power draw – mini-splits do not. Even when backup heat is needed from the furnace, as can happen during extreme winter cold, the mini-split helps reduce the furnace’s efforts and need for energy.

If your home wasn’t built with zoned HVAC, a ductless mini-split system also lets you zone your temperatures without having to modify or retrofit your central forced air by floor level. This can be a big advantage for add-on rooms and converted spaces that would otherwise require a new plenum, a new zone controller, new damper and motor controls, separate supply and return trunks, and separate branch and return ducts.

Other benefits of ductless mini-splits include whisper-quiet operation, app-based system management and greater indoor air comfort and quality. They also have great installment versatility – for example, you can have the unit on a room’s wall, floor or ceiling.

HVAC Zoning System: Contact Air Dynamics Today

As your local resource for air comfort and quality, Air Dynamics welcomes your questions about making your home even more as you like it with HVAC that suits your preferences while saving energy (and money). To further discuss zoning for your home, give us a call at (630) 731-1550!

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