How Does Ductless Multi-zone Cooling and Heating Work?
Are there rooms in your home that always gets too hot or too cold despite your use of a heating or cooling solution? Do you get frustrated with incessant cranking of the thermostat up and down because everyone in your family prefers a different temperature? If these problems make you wish that you can have a better way to control your indoor climate, then you’re not alone.
Having hot spots and cold spots at home has long been a common HVAC issue that many households in the country are aching to solve. The worst part is, using supplemental HVAC systems is not a surefire solution. At the very least, they only boost your comfort level up to a point. But no mistake about it, if there’s anything that you can truly expect from this recourse is higher energy bills.
As is commonly practiced, homeowners resort to either just ignoring the problem or using supplementary heating or cooling systems that they hope can balance the temperature out. But the truth is, this temporary solution is costly if not impractical at various levels for various reasons. The high cost that is usually associated with owning additional systems, the space constraints that make for unfriendly application, and the structural limitations that normally make installation really difficult are just few of these typical challenges.
One of the best and most viable solutions for whole-home or multiple-room air conditioning is ductless mini split multi-zone cooling and heating. Essentially, the ductless mini split multi-zone cooling and heating is an application of temperature-zoning capability of ductless mini splits for whole-home air conditioning.
Temperature-zoning: Designed for Whole-home Comfort
- Your house has multiple levels or rooms.
- “Too hot” and “too cold” issues (inconsistent temperature distribution).
- Each member of the family has different comfort/temperature level preferences.
- You have areas in your home that are rarely used but they are continuously cooled or heated.
- You live in an old home where installing the ductwork is out of the question.
- You want to cool or heat a room addition but extending the ductwork is not feasible.
Ductwork Issues Make Conventional Temperature-zoning Limited
Temperature-zoning can be done through the traditional ducted central forced air systems where a centralized HVAC solution supports cooling or heating for different zones. In this type of application, each zone has dampers which help regulate the cool or warm air that are distributed into the zone. The dampers for cooling and heating can be controlled through the individual thermostat for each zone. While this traditional temperature-zoning has been widely used, it is replete with limitations that range from high operational costs to energy losses due to ductwork disadvantages.
Unlike ductless systems, centralized air conditioning systems utilize a network of ducts. The ductwork allows the conditioned air to pass through and be distributed to different parts of the house through the air vents. The problem with ductwork is threefold—costly, complicated to install, and prone to structural damage that might result to air leaks. Any instance of air leakage only decreases the system’s capability to provide balanced and sufficient level of temperature comfort. In the long-run, this will also affect the performance of the system, the comfort level that you will get, and the energy-efficiency of the entire unit. In other words, even if utilized for temperature-zoning, ducted systems like centralized, forced air units are often costly to use, complex to install, and completely not cost-saving.
Ductless Mini Split: Ditching the Ducts Leads to Better Temperature-zoning
What is Ductless Mini Split Multi-zone Cooling and Heating?
Designed to overcome temperature inconsistencies, costly requirements, and installation complexities, ductless mini split multi-zone cooling and heating is basically all about home temperature zoning. It refers to the innovative whole-home climate control approach where your home is divided into different zones for cooling or heating. Remember that each zone can be air conditioned based on your specific cooling and heating demand. In this type of climate control configuration, each targeted zone for cooling or heating is installed with an indoor air handler which can be controlled using a separately designated thermostat, remote controller, or both.
In a multi-zone application of a ductless mini split, the air handlers that are installed in individual zones can be connected to just one outdoor compressor unit. Currently, most ductless mini split multi-zone systems are available with up to 8 air handlers for one single compressor/condenser unit. The use of a separate thermostat and remote controller for each air handler in each zone gives you more freedom to control the specific indoor units independently of other air handlers. This means that you can set different levels of temperature for different zones based on your needs or preference without any impact on other zones or in the level of comfort that they provide.
How Does Ductless Mini Split Multi-zone Cooling and Heating Work?
In a ductless mini split multi-zone heating and cooling, two things have to be considered beforehand:
- The number of rooms that are targeted for cooling or heating.
- The size of each room where you will install the unit.
Multi-zone cooling and heating implies two or more rooms to be heated or cooled. Knowing the number of rooms will help you determine the number of indoor air handlers that you will need to purchase. As mentioned earlier, some outdoor compressor systems can support up to 8 air handler units. If you have a really large house and your targeted spaces for cooling or heating are more than the supported number of air handlers, then you might have to buy another outdoor unit. Take note that in temperature-zoning, it’s not really about adding rooms, but adding spaces to be air conditioned. This means that you can have one large room which might be considered as dual or multiple zones. If, let’s say, you have identified 12 targeted spaces for cooling or heating, you will have different options in terms of setup, such as:
- One outdoor compressor/condenser unit that is matched and connected with the maximum eight indoor air handlers and another outdoor unit for the remaining four indoor air handlers.
- Two outdoor compressor units with each one supporting six indoor air handlers, which make for a balanced load.
- Two outdoor compressor units with each one connected to not more than 8 air handlers.
One thing to remember is you should make sure that the outside unit or units must be properly matched in terms size or capacity to the indoor units.
Aside from the number of outdoor compressor units and indoor air handlers, the other thing that needs to be considered prior to multi-zone mini split installation is the size of each space that you have targeted for cooling or heating. The size of the room should match the capacity of the systems that you will use to avoid having an undersized or oversized units.
With proper sizing of the units, you can be sure that your mini split systems can effectively and efficiently heat or cool your space. Having an undersized unit often results to low cooling or heating performance and wasted energy. On the other hand, an oversized unit may be able to quickly cool your room, but your energy cost will skyrocket due to the unnecessary use of energy. With outdoor and indoor units already properly sized and installed, the whole ductless mini split system works both as a whole-home cooling and heating system and as an independent climate control solution for individual zones.
Generally speaking, a multi-zone ductless mini split system allows you to cool or heat specific spaces (designated as zones) inside your home and enables you to control each zone via a designated thermostat or through wired or wireless remote controller. Aided by these devices for control, you will be able to set different temperature for each room and choose to turn on or off the unit in any room or zone without worrying about any impact on the operational capability of other systems. With the Honeywell D6 Thermostat, you can also make your whole multi-zone system Smart Home Compatible.
Multi-Zone Mini Split Cooling or Heating Advantages
- Personalized Comfort. By being able to customize the cooling or heating function of the system, you can now choose to set the temperature in each zone according to your own needs or preference.
- Enhanced Comfort Experience. If there’s one other big thing that ductless system uniquely provides aside from energy-efficiency, versatility, and powerful cooling and heating performance, it would be precise temperature control that is highly useful in boosting your comfort experience in a quick and smooth manner.
- Significant Energy-savings. Designed with high energy-efficiencies, multi-zone ductless mini split systems are capable of providing you with huge energy-savings. Obviously, lower energy consumption results to lower electricity bill.
- Greater Control Over Your Comfort. Through individualized control over the different air handler units that are installed in different zone, the multi-zone mini split system configuration gives you greater control over your comfort. This is an advantage that you will certainly never get from conventional, fixed-speed, conventional AC systems.