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Zoned Heating vs. Central Heating: What’s the Difference?

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!

 

ZONED HEATING VS. CENTRAL HEATING: HOW THEY HEAT YOUR HOME’S AIR

 

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.

 

ZONED HEATING VS. CENTRAL HEATING: HOW THEY DELIVER AIR TO YOUR ROOMS

 

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.

 

ZONED HEATING VS. CENTRAL HEATING: DIFFERENCE IN THERMOSTATS

 

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 VS. CENTRAL HEATING: WHICH ONE IS RIGHT FOR YOU?

 

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.