Smart thermostats are brilliant new innovations for controlling an HVAC system. Zoned systems help the HVAC system better distribute hot or cold air. Combining both systems might appeal to homeowners seeking the most modern HVAC setup. Integrating zoned setups with smart thermostats might be one more step toward “ultra-modernizing” a home.
Is it even possible to combine smart thermostats and zoned systems, though? Generally, it is possible, depending on the compatibility between the zoning setup and the smart thermostat.
What are the different zone systems? Before exploring that answer, it may be best to explain smart thermostats and the idea behind zoned systems.
What Does a Smart Thermostat Do?
A smart thermostat is a helpful home automation tool and Internet of Things (IoS) device. A user could engage an app on a smartphone, tablet, or computer and change temperature settings on a thermostat. So, someone leaving work could remotely turn on an air conditioner or furnace to ensure the home is the preferred temperature upon arrival.
A smart thermostat may also allow for advanced programming. Set the temperature to go to 65 degrees at 1 p.m. if preferred. The thermostat should respond accordingly. If changes become necessary, then use the app to make changes manually.
How Does a Zoned System Work?
A zoned system breaks segments of a home into several zones. Set one area for 55 degrees in one zone and 70 degrees in another. The zones will then reach or drop to the set temperature range. Specific equipment helps with this cause.
At the core of a zoned system would be the dampers. Dampers placed inside the ducts open and close based on thermostat settings. Dampers essentially control the flow of hot and cold air into the zones. Designating heated or cooled airflow to specific areas regulates temperatures in the zones.
So, will the zoned system work with a smart thermostat? There are two different types of zoned setups, and you must look at each one for the answer.
The System-Based Zoning Setup
With system-based zoning, each area inside of the home connects to a separate thermostat. If the living room has an individual thermostat and the bedroom has a separate one, you adjust the two thermostats to get the preferred temperature.
The costs of installing system-based zoning could prove significant, as several thermostats cost more than just one. The investment may be worth it when the result yields improved energy efficiency.
You could explore the option to install several smart thermostats. If possible, you could access the smart features on several apps. Several smart thermostats may drive the installation budget up, but the new setup could cut costs thanks to better control of the temperature.
The Sensor-Based Zoning Setup
The sensor-based setup reflects the one more commonly associated with smart thermostats. A smart thermostat becomes necessary for this type of zoned system to work. With this system, sensors assist with the temperature regulation in each room. The sensors pick up temperature information and then send the info to a smart thermostat: a single central smart thermostat.
With a smart central thermostat, the temperature for the entire home gets set. The sensors do their part to set each zone to the preferred temperature.
Sensor-Based vs. System-Based Zoning
Homeowners contemplating changes and upgrades to their HVAC system may wonder whether sensor-based or system-based zoning is preferable. Choosing the “best” zoning setup is very much dependent upon your personal preferences. Different homeowners gravitate toward a system based on their needs, budget, and more. Researching the two systems could help you figure out the appropriate system for your house.
System-based zoning might appeal to those seeking a straightforward setup. Those preferring a smart thermostat may find sensor-based to be better. Other factors fit into decisions, such as the available budget or financing. One homeowner could go with the less costly option since the price might be that customer’s primary concern.
Controlling Interior Climate and Household Expenses
Using a smart thermostat and a zoning system provide ways for you to cut down on expenses. When there are one or more rooms that people don’t occupy much, cooling or heating the area makes little sense. Some rooms could go unoccupied for days, such as an unoccupied extra bedroom used for storage. Again, it makes no sense to burn energy and waste resources to maintain a specific temperature in an empty room.
Gas and electric bills could drop dramatically once a better system gets put in place. Over time, you could put the money saved from lower bills to much better long-term or short-term use.
Preserving the HVAC System
Not only does zoning save energy, but it might also help preserve the life of the HVAC system. When the system works hard to cool down the entire house, parts suffer from wear and tear. Eventually, wear and tear could lead to the system suffering breakdowns and malfunctions. Replacing it might be unavoidable at this point. Zoning systems may reduce a system’s burden, at least somewhat. Hopefully, that would contribute to preserving the unit.
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Seeking Estimates for Zoning the Home
When an HVAC professional arrives, they could help you come up with the right zoning setup. You might understand the zoning system’s general concept but lack knowledge about installing them or what setups work best in a particular home. An HVAC professional can examine your interior and then make a recommendation.
Rushing to switch to a zoned system may not be advisable. Taking the necessary time to figure out what method would be best seems more logical.
Seeing how zoned systems work might be helpful to those trying to make the right decision. If possible, visit properties that utilize both zoned systems. In-person visits could answer some of your questions and might address some of your concerns too.
Upgrading the HVAC System
The system might be due for an upgrade. The average furnace lasts 15 to 20 years. When the time comes for an upgrade, the opportunity arises to set up zoning. Replacing an HVAC system might be the perfect time to institute zoning. This way, all the work gets done at once.
If your unit isn’t necessarily due for an upgrade but is just aging, looking into zoned-system changes is still an option. An HVAC contractor could perform the necessary inspection to determine the feasibility of installing a zoned system.
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