Zone control - Carolina Country

Zone control

Automatic zone systems adjust temperatures of individual rooms

By James Dulley

Zone control
This zone control thermostat is programmable and controls the temperature in one room or a group of rooms.

People often mention that one or more rooms in their homes are hotter or colder than other rooms. It’s likely there’s not a single home in the entire country that has even temperatures throughout all rooms.

There are many factors that affect room air temperature, such as the length of ductwork, bends, orientation to the sun and the number of windows and exterior walls.

Items inside a room also affect the air temperature. For example, if you have a large TV in a small room, it can raise the room's temperature.

Actually, it is not desirable to have all the rooms at the same temperature. Depending upon the activity level in various rooms, a range of temperatures may be more comfortable for you and your family. Also, some people simply prefer to have it warmer or cooler.

Many homes contain a single furnace or heat pump. If you set the thermostat to keep the chilliest room warm, this results in many other rooms becoming too warm. A warmer house loses more heat, forcing the heating system to work harder.

Automatic zone control system

Installing an automatic zone control system is the best and most energy-efficient method to control individual room temperatures. A zone control system adjusts special duct dampers based upon the actual room temperatures and the desired temperatures.

Many homes have access only to main ducts that branch out to the individual rooms. In this case, the zone control system will control the temperatures in each room grouping, such as all the bedrooms, kitchen/dining areas and the living room. Although it is best to control each room independently, controlling just three or four zones is adequate for comfort and energy savings.

A programmable thermostat is mounted in each room or zone grouping to control the motorized duct damper leading to it. If the room is too warm during winter, the damper in the duct leading to that room partially closes. For example, a zone thermostat may continuously readjust the damper position as the intensity of the sun shining through a window changes throughout the day.

The majority of the energy savings with an automatic zoning system is realized because each room’s temperature can be varied as needed. There is no need to keep the living room warm overnight, for example.

Various designs

There are different designs of zoning dampers. They range from just a simple flat damper to bladders, which inflate with air to close off the ducts. They all function equally well. Adding a zoning system requires professional installation. Talk to a qualified technician about a system that would work best for your home.

About the Author

James Dulley is an engineer and syndicated columnist for the National Rural Electric Cooperative Association.

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