I haven't seen a manufacturer definition of "communicating." My understanding is that it basically implies widely variable modes of heating/cooling/air delivery along with dedicated modes of data transfer and equipment operation controlled by smart thermostats and, optionally, zoning controls.
I do not know whether there are standards for communicating equipment which would imply capability of interoperation. A Carrier air conditioner, say, with a Lennox furnace.
I have the following Lennox equipment, installed in August 2012:
Harmony III, three dampers, three zones, one per floor (basement is conditioned space with its own thermostat)
3 Comfortsense 7000 thermostats, one per floor/zone
HCWP3-18 humidifier, controlled by a humidistat in the community return
Lennox Healthy Climate filter box with 5" MERV 16 filter
What I consider poor quality ductwork (leaky and restrictive in all the wrong places) with building cavities used as return ducts (panned joists).
The EL296 is a "communicating" furnace. But I believe that the XC16, the Comfortsense 7000s, and the Harmony III are not capable of communicating operation.
If this is the case I need to investigate purchasing different equipment. I would appreciate any comment or correction on what I wrote, then I do have a specific zoning/equipment question.
ALL MANUFACTURES DESIGN THEIR OWN ALGORITHMS, meaning each is propriotory to their own, a carrier communicating heat pump for example will not work with a lennox blower coil. communicating is a term used to describe operation using wireless or fewer wires that carry signals for several operations
Communicating, means that rather than discrete (on/off) outputs from the thermostat to the furance or AC unit to call for cooling or heating, fan, the system uses 3 or 4 wires only to send digital data (1' & 0's) like a small network, to the equipment. This allows it to send a recieve all sorts of information such as status, fault codes, temperatures, and more a lot more flexibility. Most have additonal control over the blower speeds. Carrier zoning for example uses modulating zone dampers and varies the blower speed as needed depending on duct pressure and capacity demand in each zone.
One of my favorite features... the thermostat is no longer a thermostat, it's a "controller" with a tmeprature sensor inside. There are no relays at the controller, so ther'es no clicking. A must have feature if you want the thermostat in a place like a master bedroom.
Okay, thanks for that information.
It was my goal to condition my house (two story plus basement) with three zones, one per floor. And to do this using a single condenser, coil, and furnace/air handler. Because of the proprietary issue, I went with a single manufacturer for all components (Lennox, in this case, mostly because I liked the engineering of the scroll compressor. Probably just a personal foible).
"The EL296 is a "communicating" furnace. But I believe that the XC16, the Comfortsense 7000s, and the Harmony III are not capable of communicating operation."
Is that statement correct?
Because if it is, then I'm looking at replacing the condenser/coil unit, the three thermostats, and the zone controller, at least. All of these items were new last August, but that's how it goes with the particular installer I had to use.
If the thermostats need to be replaced, then I would also move the zone 2 thermostat (top floor) to the master bedroom. It's current position, in the hallway, isn't near either a supply or a return, and if all the bedroom doors are closed then it's isolated altogether from conditioned air. This would appear to be an obviously incorrect location, and is not where I told the installer to put it, but he did his own thing. If I have to replace the thermostat anyway, then I would be looking to relocate it to the master bedroom, which is where I wanted it to begin with.
I appreciate any thoughts. If you're an HVAC craftsman in my area who doesn't mind correcting others' work, please feel free to let me know. Likewise if anyone's interested in a nearly new XC16-048.