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How Zone Control Works for Better Home Comfort and Energy Savings

two_houses_with_heating_and_cooling_symbolsOne of the important services we offer customers, which is one that you won’t find at every HVAC contractor, is setting up homes with zone control systems. Zoning the heating and cooling for a home is an excellent way to lower energy costs and make comfort more convenient for everyone in a household. There are many different advantages that a professionally installed zoning system offers.

People are curious when they first hear about the potential of installing zone controls. They think of the layout of the HVAC system: a heater and AC connected to a series of ducts branching out to the room vents. When the HVAC blower comes on, heated or cooled air travels through these ducts to all of the rooms. All of them. How is it possible to control which rooms receive conditioned air and which don’t?

How a Zone Control System Works

In concept, zoning isn’t complicated. (The installation is the complicated part!) Zone control systems consist of a number of different components that provide control over the distribution of comfort around a house. There are two key component types:

  • Dampers: These are the essential parts of zone control. Motorized dampers are placed into the ductwork to allow parts of the ducts to be sealed off. Most zones have a single damper, but if there’s more than one vent in a room, multiple dampers may be necessary
  • Zone thermostats: There isn’t much difference between a zone thermostat and the standard thermostat that you already have in your home. However, each zone thermostat is designed to control the temperature in a specific zone, and it’s located in the zone so that a person in the room can directly manipulate how it is heated and cooled. (This personalized comfort is one of the major benefits of having zoning.) Each of the individual zone thermostats is wired to a central control thermostat that operates all of the dampers as well as the heater, air conditioner, and blower.

The operation of the system goes like this: When one of the zone thermostats calls for heating/cooling, the central panel responds by keeping the damper to that zone open and closing the dampers to other zones that have registered they’ve reached their requested temperature (unless there is also a request coming from other zone thermostats). The central thermostat then turns on the heater/AC to send air to the zone making the request. If other zones make requests during this time, the central panel will open those dampers as well. The central panel shuts off the heater/AC when all the zones have requested temperatures.

At this point, the central panel switches to a “purge mode” to direct the remaining heated or cooled air to the last zone that made a request. In this way, conditioned air is distributed to the areas that requested it without creating extra pressure inside the ventilation system due to the shut dampers.

In some cases, there is a separate by-pass damper designed to remove excess air in zones that are open but can’t handle the blower at top capacity. The by-pass damper is placed on a return air duct (often in a hallway) and opens to draw in excess air. This helps to prevent overheating or overcooling, maintaining an even distribution of comfort.

Are you interested in zone controls for your house? Do you have questions about them? Our team is glad to address all your concerns and help to schedule the services you need.

Comfort Master Heating & Air Conditioning, Inc. offers comfort from our family to yours.

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