Need opinions on electronic zoning systems
I've got a 3800sqft, two story home with a Trane furnace and heat pump. Don't know much about HVAC, but I've got three main ducts that branch out of the basement furnace: 2 feed the main floor and 1 shoots up into the attic to feed the second floor.
Even using the dampers, the system has never run very efficiently and there is a big temp difference on the two floors, so a number of HVAC contractors have recommended electronic zoning systems.
I'm trying to decide between two systems. The first is an Arzel pneumatic damper system. The second is a Green Zone mechanical damper system (made by Jackson Systems). Both have 10 year warranties, but the Arzel will cost about $XXXX more.
I know the Arzel's pneumatic damper system is superior, but is it worth paying an extra $XXXX? Any thoughts would be appreciated.
Last edited by Stamas; 02-21-2012 at 05:28 PM.
Reason: Removed $$$
I don't have firsthand experience with it, but what makes you say Arzel's system is superior?
How many zones are you looking at (2 or 3)?
Have either of the contractors talked about bypass or modulating dampers?
I have installed a number of Honeywell systems with good success and reliability - maybe you can find a third contractor to quote you that.
A good zoning system depends so much more on the design and installation than it really does on the brand of the equipment. I would ask the contractor how they plan on dealing with the situation where only the smallest zone is calling (bypass). Is your equipment multistage or single stage? If multistage, will the zoning be able to effectively control it (e.g. keep it in first stage if only a single zone is calling, etc.)
Its single stage. Only 2 zones. Most of the contractors have mentioned that a bypass may be necessary, but that is included in the bids.
I'm certainly no expert, but several different contractors have told me that Arzel is the best. Even the guy quoting me the Green Zone system says that the Arzel is "better," but not so much better to justify paying almost twice as much.
I also received a bid for a Honeywell and it was about the same as the Arzel.
If you don't go with Arzel, I'd go with Jackson's Z600 over the lower priced panels. It has quite a few advantages, some for the future. Staging so if you replace the furnace in the future, you can get a 2 stage model that helps with overheating. The high limit is adjustable so it can be set to turn off the heat before the furnace overheats with 1 zone calling. Also the Z600 can do dual fuel if you were interested in that in the future.
Of course, all 3 contractors you've asked for quotes to solve your temperature problems have done a thorough load analysis, now exactly how much air is needed for the entire house as well as for each room in the house and have either given the current design a glowing report or made suggestions on where issues will arise, even with a zone system. Then of course, they've determined how well the current furnace/AC or HP will accommodate a zone control system and have made you thoroughly aware of how the system will operate, including equipment limitations and the need for some type of zone relief strategy?
The issues listed above are HUGE when it comes to zone design. All of the zone manufacturers want to sell product and complicated designs don't help them attain that goal. So they do, in fact, tend to over simplify the process so that the 'average' contractor is convinced he/she can slap in a dampers system and all problems are resolved. In fact, slapping in a damper system without proper design can be a very steep slope of slime into a pit of expense and discomfort.
So what I'm suggesting is that you refrain from working any further with any contractor who's not done the needed background work mentioned above. If any of the ones with whom you are now working fall into that category, then keep looking for someone who know how to properly zone. Personally, I wouldn't touch any ducted system for zoning without knowing all of the above information. Someone else can do it cheaper for sure. But the results could be staggeringly expensive in the long run (need for new furnace, new AC, high electric bills, noise, overall discomfort). Shop carefully and you'll obtain at least a good education, possibly a good design and installation and if done properly from the beginning to end, a very comfortable if more expensive system. Fall for the claims unsubstantiated and you're gambling with a lot of money and likely will have a regrettable outcome. JMO.
If YOU want change, YOU have to first change.
If you are waiting for the 'other guy' to change first, just remember, you're the 'other guy's' other guy. To continue to expect real change when you keep acting the same way as always, is folly. Won't happen. Real change will only happen when a majority of the people change the way they vote!
Have you looked into the Trane zoning (if you have a communicating system) it has modulating dampers, thermostats that can control/sync with lighting, door locks, camera's etc, but it comes at a bit of a premium.
Otherwise I really like the Honeywell zoning and will be installing it in my house before this coming summer. They also have the Prestige HD and wireless pro 6000 thermostat that are smart phone compatible and honeywell is a tried and true system with a moderate price tag.
When I read that 2 contractors have quoted you prices that are about the same and 1 (one) contractor quotes a price that is almost 1/2 the red flags go up.
Originally Posted by JoCoHome