Whether you’re researching central air options or ductless AC and heating units, you'll probably come across terms like "zoned cooling" or "zoning system." The concept of zoning is simple: You can set the temperature in each room (or zone) independently.
For example, some people prefer to keep their bedroom warm and cozy. It’s an area of the house where you’ll likely be lounging in pajamas or simply changing clothes, so you want the temperature higher than other rooms in your house. On the other hand, you might want the kitchen’s temperature to remain a little cooler. Ductless cooling allows you to easily accomplish this type of setup.
How Zoned or Ductless Cooling Works
There are several ways homeowners can achieve zoned cooling effects throughout their living space.
If you already have a single HVAC system, additional features can be installed for zoning purposes. For example, automatic dampers can redirect the flow of air in your existing duct system, and additional sensors throughout the house can relay temperature information back to a master thermostat, which you control.
On the other hand, you can simply have multiple HVAC systems throughout your household. For example, you could have one for the lower level of your house (zone one) and the upper level (zone two). Each zone might have its own thermostat that you can set.
Some cooling solutions offer very sophisticated zoning features. For example, the Mitsubishi ductless systems feature a sensor that keeps track of the amount of people in a zone. It then adjusts the temperature as necessary. By doing so, these ductless mini splits cut down your energy bill without sacrificing your comfort.
Where Zoned Cooling Works Best
Zoned AC cooling is typically desired in larger homes, where the temperature could vary significantly from one area to the next. For example, the temperature in your basement room might be much different than the temperature in your bedroom. Rooms with lots of windows (such as a sunroom) and rooms built over garages can also benefit from zoned cooling. Ductless heating and air devices are especially useful for zoning if you don’t want to install new ducts in these rooms, so consider the aforementioned Mitsubishi air conditioning units.
Zoned cooling is generally not needed in small houses or single-story houses. A single zone HVAC might be enough to handle these structures, especially if there’s plenty of open space.