Residential heating systems these days are more advanced than ever. Features and add-ons are now available that address nearly every comfort problem that you can imagine. A zoning system, for example, can solve most issues related to uneven temperatures in your home and can make it possible to solve comfort issues you’re experiencing in a specific room or floor in your home. Today we’re going to help you understand zoning systems and the benefits they can provide by talking about zoned heating vs. central heating and how you can decide which one is right for your home!
When it comes to the actual heating process of zoned furnaces vs. central air furnaces, there is no difference between the two types of systems. Both of them blow air over a heat exchanger, which increases the temperature of the air, and send the warmed air to your home’s rooms. Although the fuel types of various furnaces may differ (electricity or natural gas), that has no bearing on whether the system is zoned or central.
The real difference between zoned heating and central heating comes down to how air is delivered to your home. In both zoned furnaces and central furnaces, warm air travels through a network of ducts (typically located behind your walls) and is dispensed to each one of your rooms. Every conditioned room has one or more supply vents, which is where warm air leaves the ducts and enters the room.
With central heating, air is delivered indiscriminately to every room as long as the furnace is running. You have the option of closing the supply vent to a room if you don’t want that room to receive warm air, but we do not recommend doing so for various reasons you can read about here.
With zoned heating, on the other hand, each supply vent is controlled by an electronic damper. Your furnace still sends warm air through your ducts in the same way, but the zoning system monitors which rooms will receive that warm air at any given time. If a zone requires heat, the zoning system opens the dampers to the rooms in that zone and allows warm air inside. If a zone does not require heat while the furnace is running, the zoning system closes the dampers to the rooms in that zone and blocks warm air from entering.
Another big difference between zoned heating and central heating is the amount of thermostats you’ll have in your home. Central heating uses a single, centrally located thermostat that tells your furnace when to turn on and off. With this model, either your entire home receives warm air or your furnace is completely turned off. This is always based on the temperature of the space where your thermostat is located, regardless of how warm or cold the other parts of your home are.
Zoned heating uses multiple different thermostats that are strategically located throughout your home. Each zone has its own thermostat, and it can tell your furnace to turn on even if that zone is the only one that requires heat at a given time. This allows each zone to be heated independently with various different temperature settings, which makes every room perfectly comfortable. This is also very energy efficient, because your furnace is used exactly as much as it’s needed and no more or less.
Zoned heating is preferable to central heating in any home that has rooms that are not close to the central thermostat. Zoned heating is particularly suitable for homes that have basements, more than one floor or sections that have been historically difficult to keep comfortable. Also, if you are looking for ways to cut down on your heating bills, zoned heating is a great solution. Best of all, you do not need to install a new furnace to benefit from zoned heating, because a zoning system can be added to most existing furnaces.