What is zoned air conditioning? Is it available in Rochester, NY?
Zoned air conditioning is a setup where your cooling system treats different rooms, or zones in your home, individually. Here, you control the temperature of each zone separately. That’s different than most central AC setups where one thermostat regulates the entire home. The benefits to these for homes in Rochester, NY include:
Better cooling for second-story rooms
Using less energy
Saving money on electric bills
Customized cooling throughout the house
Today, this is usually associated with ductless, or mini-split systems. These treat your entire house without using air ducts and vents. You see them in new construction projects. Or, people use them to update ranches and early suburban homes that were built before central air was available residentially. And, these systems are popular in pre-war and historic houses. They allow homeowners to update their heating and cooling system without changing the look of their home.
How zoned air conditioning works
Zoned air conditioning works differently with systems using traditional ductwork and those without. But, the goal behind both is the same. These setups allow people to control the temperature in different parts of their home separately from others.
Zoned HVAC with ductwork
It’s possible to zone your HVAC using existing ductwork. And, of course, a contractor can design a ducted system that treats different areas of your home individually. To do this, an HVAC professional usually installs dampers in the ductwork. These are essentially vents that go inside the ducts. They open and close to block or allow air flow. It’s possible to control the dampers manually. You can have them installed with a handle that allows you to open and close them. Or, you can install dampers that connect to thermostats in each area of your home. This way, the thermostats control when they open or close based on the temperature in that zone.
How do you create zoned HVAC with a ductless system?
A ductless system creates zoned HVAC by using air handlers in each zone. These attach to the wall and circulate air. They connect to an outdoor heat pump using flexible refrigerant lines that run through the walls and along the side of your home. To draw a comparison, imagine the air handlers are your ducts and the refrigerant lines as the ductwork. But, the similarities end there. Each air handler has a built-in thermostat. So, the units work independently from each other. It’s up to you if you want to set each to the same temperature or treat each zone differently. And, they’re all connected individually to the heat pump. This way, each one is truly independent.
What are the advantages of a mini split?
Mini-splits have been getting more popular with homeowners in Western New York over the last decade as they have become more affordable. They have other advantages over traditional HVAC setups:
They are quieter than regular AC’s
They are easier to install
They cost less to run
They can keep the house cooler
This one’s a big selling point: They’re virtually silent when they’re working! Unless you're’ standing right near an indoor component, you won’t hear a thing. That’s a far cry (no pun intended) from the roar of a window air conditioner or even a central unit.
When there’s no ductwork involved, there’s a lot less work to be done. Of course, you still want an expert team to do the install. But, it’s much less invasive than installing a traditional AC. With ductless, we don’t need to build out soffits along the walls. And we won’t have to use up a whole closet to house equipment. Instead, we run the lines behind the walls and along the outside of your house. And, we make sure to keep everything as far out of sight as possible.
Mini-splits use far less energy than central air. In some cases, we’ve seen people cut their electric bills in half over the summer. Part of this has to do with the outdoor heat pump. It uses a heat transfer process to move warmth out of the house without using anywhere near as much energy as a conventional condenser. Meanwhile, the air handlers use multi-stage technology to run most of the time on a low-power setting, Once the zone reaches the right temperature, the handler maintains that. This is different from a central unit that turns on and off a few times every house.
That low-power setting also provides better comfort. We mentioned how central air cycles on and off. Those systems can only work at full power or not at all. So, they wait until the temperature rises. Then, the system turns on and cools things down. Not only does that use more energy, but it also means the temperature fluctuates. With ductless, you’re getting more even, consistent temperatures all the time.
How many air handlers do I need?
If you’re considering a mini-split, you need to know how many air handlers your home will need. After all, each one affects the price of the system as a whole. A trained HVAC professional can determine this based on:
The square footage of your home
How the rooms are laid out
The size and placement of the windows
How well the home is insulated
Square footage and layout
Each ductless system is unique to the home where it’s installed. That means you need a certified tech who can do the proper load calculations. After all, you don’t want to end up with a system too weak to do the job. And, you don’t want to overpay for a system that’s way too powerful for your house. The big factor is the overall size of the house. It determines how many BTUs - British Thermal Units - of cooling you’ll likely need. Next, the layout plays a big part in how your zones will get laid out. We take into account the positions of walls, stairways and other obstacles that affect airflow.
Windows, insulation and other factors
Finally, there’s the question of how well that treated air will stay in the house. Large windows and little insulation means you’ll lose a certain amount of cooling. Fortunately, it’s something we can account for. There are a lot of factors to consider. But, the end result is a cooling system perfectly customized to keep your home just the way you want it all summer long. Are you ready to upgrade your home’s cooling system? Contact us, and we’ll design a system that’s perfect for you!