If you need a new air conditioning system, and you've had an addition installed, finished your basement, turned your garage into a bedroom, have a multi-level home, or have spare bedrooms you're not using, then consider if a zoned air conditioner is right for your home.
You might find you save money on your power bills by controlling the temperature independently in different areas of your house. An air conditioning contractor can evaluate your home and offer advice. Here are some options for zoned air conditioning.
Install a Central HVAC With Zone Control
When you get your new HVAC system, the AC contractor can install ducts that have zone controls. These consist of dampers that can shut off airflow or allow the amount of air needed to reach the desired temperature. You can have a thermostat for each zone or you can get a multi-zone thermostat that controls each zone of your home independently.
Dampers in the ducts can be controlled by hand with a lever, but that approach is more suitable when you're putting zones in your existing ducts. A better setup is to have dampers that are controlled by the thermostat and that move automatically.
This allows you to send more AC to the kitchen to keep it cool and less cool air to your baby's room so they don't get too cold while sleeping. You can also shut off the AC to rooms you don't use, but you'll still be able to turn it whenever you want.
Installing a zoned ducted system is complicated because the AC contractor has to determine the best placement of the dampers so your AC works efficiently and isn't affected negatively when a damper closes off.
Install a Ductless Mini-Split System
Talk to your air conditioning contractor about how a ductless mini-split system compares to central AC with zoned ducts. Depending on the way your home is laid out and how you use the rooms in your home, a mini-split may be the best choice, especially if you prefer to avoid putting in new ducts.
A mini-split system distributes air through a blower that's mounted on the wall in each zone. You might want a blower in each of the major rooms in your house so each room can be controlled individually. If you have a large house with several rooms, you might need two outdoor condensers to power all of the blowers.
You'll need an air conditioning contractor to help you determine if a mini-split system is a good match for your home, and if so, where to place the blowers for optimal cooling. The mini-split system and a zoned central HVAC also allow you to zone heat in the winter, so whichever you choose, you can save money on climate control in all seasons.