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How Does a Dual-Zone HVAC System Work?

August 24, 2022

Oregon Ductless Heroes

Traditional HVAC systems are operated using a single control. Since not every room or occupant requires the same temperature, this approach is rather impractical. A dual-zone HVAC system can improve comfort and reduce energy costs by controlling the temperature in different parts of your home independently.

Oregon Ductless - How Does a Dual Zone HVAC System Work

A traditional forced air system is not set up to do this, or at least not efficiently. The thermostat is set to make every room the same temperature (causing family members to often argue about it). Another issue is the need to close vents manually, which may avoid heating or cooling a basement you rarely go to. But the way a traditional system is set up, closing vents reduces airflow, straining the system and potentially shortening its operating life.

The Function of a Dual-Zone HVAC System

A dual-zone system uses motorized dampers, which are controlled by separate thermostats. You can therefore set the temperature differently for one section of the house than another. No energy is used to heat or cool an upstairs bedroom or a basement when it’s not in use.

The dampers that enable zoning are located inside the air ducts. They may be installed at an air outlet as well. A zone is created when multiple dampers are connected together, allowing you to control the temperature in one section or on one floor using a dedicated thermostat. When the dampers open, air flows into the area; they close when the respective area reaches the set temperature (as determined by temperature sensors). The whole system will shut off when all parts of your home reach the desired temperature.

When a Dual-Zone System Is Right for Your Home

A dual-zone HVAC system can lower your monthly energy bills, reduce wear and tear on the system, and allow family members, roommates, tenants, and other occupants to set their own temperature preferences without disturbing others. It’s beneficial for houses with multiple stories, those with basements, or that have lofts or vaulted ceilings. If certain rooms have larger windows or some areas of your home are rarely used, then a dual-zone system is worth considering, especially if it’s coming time to replace your existing one.

Limitations to Consider

To install a dual-zone system, you’ll need a two-stage air conditioner. It can run at variable speeds, which leads to long-term reductions in energy costs. Chances are your existing AC is not compatible with a dual-zone setup, so a complete replacement is likely necessary.

Also, there are size limitations, as zones cannot be too small. For example, a small bathroom is not an adequate space to be its own HVAC zone. It should be combined with a master bedroom and perhaps other spaces to create a single zone, or else the system won’t cycle properly or run efficiently.

What About Ductless?

You can go beyond a dual-zone HVAC system but enjoy the same benefits, by installing a ductless system. Not using ducts eliminates concerns with air loss. You can also connect up to four indoor air handlers, each serving individual rooms. These reduce the risk of air quality issues. A dual- or multi-zone system also doesn’t work as hard. It doesn’t have to heat or cool unused rooms, which not only improves comfort but reduces maintenance costs.

Contact Oregon Ductless

We’re experienced with all types of air conditioning systems. This includes traditional, single-zone, and dual-zone HVAC systems as well as multi-zone ductless system installation and maintenance. Our team properly sizes, calibrates, and installs every system that we provide in the Portland area to ensure it meets your needs for years to come. We also offer financing options so you can pay for your system over time. Contact us online to learn more/get a quote or call 503-987-3430 today!


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