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  1. #1

    Zoned HVAC for basement remodel?

    I've got an HVAC decision to make for a basement addition I've recently started but it seems that each HVAC contractor has a different opinion of what I need. I'm hoping that you folks can help me zero in on something that will work.

    The completed basement will be about 950 sq'. My initial thought was have a 1.5 ton heat pump installed and move on to the drywall. Some contractors priced that very job but others said that I won't be happy with a solo heat pump for down stairs (one even refused to bid that set up). They claim that the basement cooling demands are minimal which translates to few and short run times for AC. That in turn translates to humidity problems (I have a dehumidifier but would prefer to run it only occasionally) and various other problems. These guys recommend a zoned system. They claim that with a zoned system, a 2 stage compressor, and a variable speed dual fuel air handler, I'd be much more comfortable AND would find it cheaper to run than the new heat pump + the system I currently have.

    I've never heard of a zoned system and can't seem to find much info on them. I'm hoping you folks have some opinions about which way to go.

    Thanks
    Scott

    Additional info - the current HVAC for up stairs is 15 yrs old. The basement is fully insulated (r13 min) and is a walk out type with 2 big windows and 2 doors. I live in TN very warm wet summers, mild winters with some really cold spells. Most contractors bidding the job measured the space/windows/doors and etc. which I assume is for manual J calcs (though I've not seen any ciphering).

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Mar 2007
    Location
    Connecticut
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    104
    [QUOTE=scrkw2000;4926022]
    The completed basement will be about 950 sq'. My initial thought was have a 1.5 ton heat pump installed and move on to the drywall. They claim that the basement cooling demands are minimal which translates to few and short run times for AC.

    I've never heard of a zoned system and can't seem to find much info on them. I'm hoping you folks have some opinions about which way to go.

    [QUOTE]

    Yes you will have minimal sensible loads in the basement. You probably only need 1 - ton or less. You won't be able to get a conventional heat pump in this small size. Dehumidification can be a problem if you aren't careful with fan speeds, but it can be done.

    A zoned system would also be fine. Essentially they run ducts from a system that serves other parts of your house with an automatic damper system to serve the basement zone. With proper ducts and controls (and varibale speed system) this will work great.

    Another option you have if you want really good control over the zone - and I can't beleive none of your contractors recommended it - is to put in a Ductless Mini-split heat pump system for your basement system. You can search for and learn about these systems online.

    Good luck.

  3. #3
    Thanks Buck_Taylor. The guys did mention a multi zone mini split but I've got a friend who has one and I just don't like it - kind of a reminds me of a motel room.

    I was thinking the zone system might fit the bill especially since my main system will likely need attention soon. Perhaps I could kill 2 birds with one stone. I just don't know about the reliability and effectiveness of such a system and is one manufacturer better than the others. I've got bids for carrier, trane, amana, rheem and maytag.

    I use gas heat and straight AC (3 ton i think) upstairs and am pretty satisfied with my utility bills. Could a 2nd small gas furnace and a small AC unit work instead of a zoned system or a heat pump? Do they even make such a system?

    I refinished a basement in my old house a while ago and was very disappointed with the comfort levels in the space. A bunch of work for a space no one wanted to be in. I really don't want to make that expensive mistake again so your input is greatly appreciated.

    Thanks
    Scott

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Mar 2007
    Location
    Connecticut
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    Quote Originally Posted by scrkw2000 View Post
    Thanks Buck_Taylor. The guys did mention a multi zone mini split but I've got a friend who has one and I just don't like it - kind of a reminds me of a motel room.

    I was thinking the zone system might fit the bill especially since my main system will likely need attention soon. Perhaps I could kill 2 birds with one stone. I just don't know about the reliability and effectiveness of such a system and is one manufacturer better than the others. I've got bids for carrier, trane, amana, rheem and maytag.

    I use gas heat and straight AC (3 ton i think) upstairs and am pretty satisfied with my utility bills. Could a 2nd small gas furnace and a small AC unit work instead of a zoned system or a heat pump? Do they even make such a system?

    I refinished a basement in my old house a while ago and was very disappointed with the comfort levels in the space. A bunch of work for a space no one wanted to be in. I really don't want to make that expensive mistake again so your input is greatly appreciated.

    Thanks
    Scott
    I wouldn't bother to add a second smaller unit unless you were really pushing the capacity of the gas existing system - especially since you are conditioning a basement, and you can program zone priority so it all really comes down to good ducts for the zone.

    Contractor needs to do a Manual J and Manual D to get this right.

    I would say your friend got a very low-end mini-split. Good mini-splits are nearly silent, are more efficient than ducted systems, have nearly infinite controls and speeds, are the system of choice in Europe, and are becoming a popular option here in the US for retrofits. They do not come even close to operating or sounding like the typical hotel packed units we see!

    Good luck.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Jan 2004
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    PA
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    A 950 sq ft basement doesn't need much heat or cooling.
    So a second unit just for that area, isn't really a good idea. Might only need 10,000 BTUs of heat. But you won't find a single stage furnace less then 40,000 BTUs input, and 32,000 BTUs output.

    A zoned system. Would make you think you had a separate unit for the basement. As far as its temp control. It would have its own thermostat. And only heat or cool when that thermostat calls for it.

    The Carrier Infinity zoning system, is probably the best one for residential use.

    But, most of the other ones will work well enough.
    As far as reliability. They are as reliable as a second system.
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  6. #6
    Join Date
    Apr 2004
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    7,680
    Lol if it were me, I would install some electric baseboard and put a good dehumidifier down there.

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Mar 2003
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    7,326
    do it right. get the new system and add a zone for the basement. kill both of the birds now. look at something that can earn you a tax credit while you are at it.

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Jun 2008
    Posts
    128
    Check out Arzel. I've got a HPP and love it. Since you already have a system in place and are only looking at a new zone for the basement, why not consider something like a slave zone or "add a zone"? Basements rarely need much... You wouldn't be "wasting" money on it if you decide to upgrade you main system in the future, everything would stay in place.

  9. #9
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    Slave zones are nice.
    Until you have company over. And everybody is in that zone, sweating their butts off.
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  10. #10
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    Jun 2008
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    128
    Quote Originally Posted by beenthere View Post
    Slave zones are nice.
    Until you have company over. And everybody is in that zone, sweating their butts off.
    Then kick on the fan, you'll need the fresh air to keep CO2 down if you have that many people in 950 sq. ft.

  11. #11
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    Quote Originally Posted by patchesj View Post
    Then kick on the fan, you'll need the fresh air to keep CO2 down if you have that many people in 950 sq. ft.
    The fan won't cool the area.
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  12. #12
    Join Date
    Feb 2004
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    Quote Originally Posted by beenthere View Post
    Slave zones are nice.
    Until you have company over. And everybody is in that zone, sweating their butts off.
    Slave zones work very well in the proper application. Before recommending a Slave I always ask about what I call "Entertainment Load" which will require cooling when other zones are satisfied. That's when the butt sweating comes into play.

    Please check out our web-site to get a little more familiar with zoning

    www.arzelzoning.com


    jr
    "When you perceive zoning not as a bandage but as an enhancement, you truly understand the dynamics and limitations of forced air heating and cooling"

  13. #13
    Join Date
    May 2008
    Location
    Missouri
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    We use Durozone controls and the Hi-torque dampers. Have very good luck with them. Also have installed a few Arzel systems for retrofitting. If putting in a complete new duct system, the Durozone works fine, however if retrofitting, the Arzel is easiest to install (Unless you already have your different ductwork seperated anyway). The Arzel will probably be more expensive though. Don't recommend "slave" type zone controls unless nothing else will work out.

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