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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Nov 2005
    Location
    Berkeley, CA
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    17

    Question

    Questions from an ill-informed homeowner:

    I've read many posts here & searched around quite a bit, but I couldn't find a good explanation of how zones work.

    My guess is that it involves a series of electronically controlled dampers which are programmed to adjust airflow to different areas based on the differing heat losses or gains of each area. I'd imagine that in a sophisticated system like the Carrier Infinity 96, the controller tweaks these dampers to balance flow, pressure, blower speed, etc.

    Our house has 2 floors. The upper floor gains & loses more heat [via attic] than the lower floor. I'd guess that this alone is not a sufficient condition to require zoning, as duct sizing could account for most of this differential.

    What about cooling just 2 bedrooms at night, and cutting off cooling to the rest of the house?

    A related question: in the absence of zoning, wouldn't physically closing off several registers put a strain on the blower motor?

    When I asked our possible installer, "Mr. No-J" [who'd never heard of a Manual J] about zoning, he just said we didn't have room for motorized dampers. End of discussion.

    Are they that bulky? I suspected that he just didn't know how to design them into our system, or how to program them.

    Are these dampers expensive? I know you can't talk about actual costs, but how about as a percentage increase in costs for a new system?

    Does anyone care to educate me a little?

    Many thanks in advance.
    Pableau

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Jan 2004
    Location
    Lancaster PA
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    67,913
    How expensive varies with the manufacture of the zoning equipment.

    Zoning first and second floor from each other because of what you described is a common reason.

    The zone motors take up very little room.

    If a contractor makes up excuses not to zone, you don't want him to do it.
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  3. #3
    Join Date
    Aug 2006
    Location
    High Point, NC
    Posts
    155
    Find someone in your area who has done work using zoning. It works great when installed properly. Different systems cost different amounts. Depends on how by-pass air is accomplished, if temperature control is used in ducting to shut down system if air is to hot, etc. Comfort in a house that you are living in is worth a lot.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Mar 2002
    Location
    Concord, CA
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    2,635
    I wrote this for your reading enjoyment. Or is it torment? Whatever. If you can digest it then God bless.

    As mentioned, two stories is THE reason to have zoning. There's no one duct size that works for two stories without zoning. If it's big enough for AC then you'll cook up there in the winter without zoning.

    Cooling just two bedrooms is not practical for most systems. You need to maintain minimum airflows and two rooms are just not big enough to achieve that goal. Read the link to learn why you need airflow.

    Closing of vents doesn't strain the blower. But it can potentially damage the compressor and/or heat exchanger.

    You can likely find room for dampers. The question is, are you willing to pay to make that happen? Proper zoning almost never happens in part because it cost a lot and in part because most don't know how to do it.

    If at all possible, skip the bypass air routine. Stick to just two large zones. Get a two stage compressor or replace all your ducts so you can avoid bypassing air. Bypass dampers just plain suck. Bypassing air means super hot or super cold return air temps and/or equipment short cycling and/or dumping air to places you don't want it.

  5. #5
    Residential zoning doesn't modulate the dampers. They are either open or closed. Some are power open/power close. Others are spring open/close and power close/open.

    Dampers can be put in the ducts or be a register that is also a motorized damper.

    The zoning panel determines what zone(s) requires attention and opens that damper. The heating/cooling stops once all the zones are satisfied.

    Generally, zoning systems require bypass dampers which is a mechanism to essentially to try to maintain the same amount of airflow. The Carrier with an Infinity control is an exception and does not require a bypass damper.

    Zoning is expensive because there is a zoning panel that might support n zones. There may or may not be an expansion panel. Each zone requires a stat and damper. Wires must be run from each of the stats and the zoning dampers back to the zoning panel.

    Seems like all of the discussion here points to if you need to zone, think seriously about two small furnace/AC systems.

    Zoning might also be able to keep the kitchen from getting very hot or cold.


  6. #6
    Join Date
    Jan 2004
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    Lancaster PA
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    Originally posted by keepitsimplestupid
    Residential zoning doesn't modulate the dampers. They are either open or closed. Some are power open/power close. Others are spring open/close and power close/open.



    I think you'll find the Carrier Inffinity zoning system is a modulating zoning system for residencial.
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  7. #7
    Join Date
    Jul 2005
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    31

    Apologies for hijacking this thread...

    I'm also looking in to zoning for the replacement of one of my systems this Fall/Winter. I'm looking for a system that controls the heat/cool ligh/low staging and fan speed, based upon number of zones calling, heat/cooling load and humidity, all whilst minimizing any bypass requirements.

    From my limited knowledge the Carrier Infinity system is an excellent fully integrated system whereby the condenser, furnace, fan and zone controls all work together in truely integrated fashion to optimize the system to suit the zone(s) calling requirements.

    Most of the 'independent' zone control systems I've found - Arzel, EWC, Jackson, Zonex, etc. don't appear to provide the fully integrated approach that the Carrier system does, i.e. they seem to be a bit of a compromise. But in their defence, they are designed to work with multiple manufacturers equipment.

    Anybody know of any 'independent' zone control systems that behave more like the Carrier (also Lennox, I think)?

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Jan 2004
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    You can use EWC, or Arzel for what you want, you just have to use the correct panel, and equipment.

    But I don't think your going to find anything better then Carriers Infinity system, for residecial zoning, as long as you can afford the name.
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  9. #9
    Join Date
    Feb 2004
    Location
    Wadsworth, OH
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    316
    Originally posted by beenthere
    You can use EWC, or Arzel for what you want, you just have to use the correct panel, and equipment.

    But I don't think your going to find anything better then Carriers Infinity system, for residecial zoning, as long as you can afford the name.
    Good luck using the Infinity zoning system in a retrofit application.
    We have had many contractors push us to make an interface panel (not going there)that would allow them to use the Arzel retrofit dampers with the Infinity control. Otherwise the labor involvement and damper cost make it a tough sell.
    jr

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Feb 2006
    Posts
    212
    Sort of on topic.... Would the decision for zoning or not zoning be made differently depending on this application. If for instance two floors were on one unit, say 4 tons for both floors combined, and you only really used one floor at a time because bedrooms were upstairs and only were needed at night and living area was downstairs and used during the day. Then you would really be using 4 tons for one floor, correct? Would that not be couterproductive?

    I have two units for two floors and can see where one larger unit may be just too big. I use the upstairs bedroom unit during the night and the downstairs unit during the day.

    I have seen posts by someone who talks about reducing size of the total units being zoned because if this exact reason. Can anyone comment on this? It is definately something for the OP to think about re his/her lifestyle(I think?).

  11. #11
    Join Date
    Aug 2002
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    Originally posted by jramunni
    Originally posted by beenthere
    You can use EWC, or Arzel for what you want, you just have to use the correct panel, and equipment.

    But I don't think your going to find anything better then Carriers Infinity system, for residecial zoning, as long as you can afford the name.
    Good luck using the Infinity zoning system in a retrofit application.
    We have had many contractors push us to make an interface panel (not going there)that would allow them to use the Arzel retrofit dampers with the Infinity control. Otherwise the labor involvement and damper cost make it a tough sell.
    jr
    Depends on the home and type of duct system.In Florida,where flex is King,if the attic is large,pretty easy install.

  12. #12
    I wish you would go there by at least pointing out the challenges. Is the Infinity system modulating? If so, that could create a problem. If it's modulating without feedback then it must try to determine the amount of time it takes to close the damper at 1:00 PM and then use that info to modulate the damper. e.g. 50% closed = x sec. Do you think that this is a fair assesment?

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