What Is Zone Control and How Does It Work? | Rinaldi's A/C

What Is Zone Control and How Does It Work?

Zone control lets you control your home’s temperature by room, level, or area
Read Time: 5 minutes
Dec 19, 2022

Zone control is a great way to make your home more comfortable year-round. The three-pronged system allows you to split your home into different “zones,” so you can control the temperature of each zone independently. Zone control is an excellent option for large houses or homes where not all areas are used equally.

Who Should Use Zone Control?

A woman dressed warmly inside a home, hugging herself for warmth

You may benefit from zone control if you have any of the following:

  • A large house
  • Hot or cold spots throughout the home
  • Rooms that are often empty that drain energy
  • A finished basement or attic
  • More than one level

How Does Zone Control Work?

Image of a hand adjusting the temperature on a thermostat.

Zone control systems consist of three main elements. These are thermostats, a control panel, and electronic dampers.

Thermostats

Once you’ve divided your house into sections (more on that below), your HVAC professional installs a thermostat in each zone. Having a thermostat in each zone allows you to measure the temperature in each zone rather than just one reading for the entire house.

Control Panel

Each thermostat is then wired to a control panel. The electronic dampers are also wired to the control panel. Some systems allow you to control the temperature of multiple zones through the control panel. Others require you to change each zone’s temperature via its individual thermostat.

Electronic Dampers

The electronic dampers work with your home’s ductwork. They will open or close when you adjust the temperature in a given zone. The dampers can allow more or less airflow into the zone, controlling the temperature. You can also opt for manual dampers, which are a cheaper option but require more work on your part.

Benefits of Zone Control

A zone control HVAC system has many benefits. Here are some of the main ones.

Allows Everyone in the House to Be Comfortable

One of the main benefits of zone control HVAC is that every member of your household can be comfortable. For example, if your mother or your son prefers to sleep in a cool room, but you prefer your room to be warm, you can make that happen with zone control.

Accounts for Temperature Changes Throughout the House

Another benefit of zone control is that it accounts for temperature fluctuations throughout the house. You no longer have to heat your entire house to the same temperature to get the one freezing room to a comfortable temperature. With zone control, you can increase the heat in that room but lower it in the rooms that tend to remain warmer.

Can Cut Down on Energy Costs

A person calculates an energy bill with a calculator.

The last, and perhaps most important, benefit of zone control is that it can help you cut down on energy costs. With zone control, you can use less energy on the rooms that maintain their temperature better or the areas of the house you don’t frequent. Doing so helps you use less energy overall, which is not only environmentally friendly but cost-effective.

What Are the Zones in Zone Control?

A cross-section of a house divided into rooms.

A zone can be as small or as big as you want it to be. You can have just two zones or several throughout the house. A zone could be a room, a group of rooms, a side of the house, or an entire floor.

How to Decide What Zones to Use

Your HVAC professional can help you determine how to break your home into zones. However, there are some rules of thumb to go by when determining zones. For example, if you have parts of the house that are generally much colder or warmer than others, you should designate those as zones. Hence, you can control them separately from others.

Examples of rooms/spaces to zone include:

  • A room with lots of windows or large open ceilings
  • A room such as a kitchen that stays warm due to appliances
  • Finished basements or attics
  • Rooms that are not often used
  • Upper floors that remain hotter due to rising heat

How Is Zone Control Different from a Mini-Split?

Controlling the temperature in each zone or room can sound similar to a mini-split system, which utilizes several different through-wall units throughout the home. Zone control systems allow you to use single-zone unitary HVAC equipment but control each room or zone individually.

Can I Use Zone Control in My Home?

A man inspects an air vent.

Many homes already have the systems necessary to transfer to zone control. Still, some might need changes to their ductwork or HVAC systems. Suppose your house already has several trunks and ducts. In that case, you only need to install the thermostat, control panel, and electronic dampers. For example, you may have one trunk of your HVAC system going upstairs and one going downstairs.

But some homes might need more work to use zone control. This work includes retrofitting a duct system by isolating runouts and placing dampers on them. You may also need to rip out some ductwork and put new ductwork in, depending on how many trunk lines you currently have.

Contact Rinaldi’s to Get Started on Zone Control

If you’re ready to implement zone control in your home, contact Rinaldi’s today to get started.

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