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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Aug 2011
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    6

    Zoning question - New construction

    I ma building a new house and would like to add zones to the upstairs unit. Below is what I had planned:

    1. One Zone for Media room

    2. One for Game room

    3. One for Bed 4 and 5 since they are next to each other

    4. One for bed 6 since its on the opposite of the house from all the other zones

    However I have been told by the builder that those zones are too small individually and will cause the equipment to cycle too quickly and get damaged. Their recommendation is to have Media and game room one zone and beds 4, 5 and 6 one zone. Can some one please tell me if that is true or they are just trying to get my extra money for this option and not do the extra work?

    Thanks

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Jul 2008
    Location
    Rochester NY
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    4,739
    Your builder is correct, if the zones are small it will cycle a lot. Often equipment life is rated in cycles, if that tells you anything about what turning off and on does to equipment.

    You have not provided much information. Are these rooms 100sf or 1000 sf? How big is the house, where is it, how big is the equipment specified?

    People want zoning for all kinds of reasons. Some make sense, some don't. Most often zoning is required when a home is poorly designed, poorly built, or both.

    Why do you think you need zoning?
    Which makes more sense to you?
    CONSERVATION - turning your thermostat back and being uncomfortable. Maybe saving 5-10%
    ENERGY EFFICIENCY - leaving your thermostat where everyone is comfortable. Saving 30-70%

    DO THE NUMBERS! Step on a HOMESCALE.
    What is comfort? Well, it AIN'T just TEMPERATURE!

    Energy Obese? An audit is the next step - go to BPI.org, or RESNET, and find an auditor near you.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Aug 2007
    Location
    Northern VA 38 degrees N by 76 degrees W
    Posts
    5,060
    Have your builder do a Manual J, D, and S and determine the best system design for your home. Just to say i want to devide the house up does not allways work. Some homes can use zoning well others it is a waste of money.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Aug 2011
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    6
    Quote Originally Posted by tedkidd View Post
    Your builder is correct, if the zones are small it will cycle a lot. Often equipment life is rated in cycles, if that tells you anything about what turning off and on does to equipment.

    You have not provided much information. Are these rooms 100sf or 1000 sf? How big is the house, where is it, how big is the equipment specified?

    People want zoning for all kinds of reasons. Some make sense, some don't. Most often zoning is required when a home is poorly designed, poorly built, or both.

    Why do you think you need zoning?
    Thanks for your reply. The house is 5,478 sqft. There are 3 AC units, two for the first floor and one 3.5 ton unit for upstairs. I am not sure what the size for the downstairs unit will be. I am in Houston, Texas.The reason I wanted zoning for media room was that when the doors are closed with all the equipment running then that room will probably get warm and I would need to cool down the entire upstairs to cool that room. Bed 5 is 14X13, Bed 4 is 14X14 and Bed 6 is 13X12 and is located on the opposite side of the house from Bed 4 and 5 which will get a lot of sun in the evening. The game room is 20X15.5. The builder is environments for living platinum level builder. However I as thinking that zoning would help me save on energy costs and add comfort.

  5. #5
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    Jul 2008
    Location
    Rochester NY
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    I tend to think the most elegant design means one piece of equipment, but a home that size two might be required. Three seems like the engineer or architect didn't know how or want to spend the time to be creative.

    My inclination for a home with nearly 3000 sf per floor would be to DEFINITELY have one or two systems. Absolutely need communicating zoning. Two three ton systems would indicate great design IMO.

    If you haven't met your HERS rater, now would be a good time. A good HERS rater will help you get this design really figured out.
    In the love it or hate it coinflip on your new home granite countertops and marble bathrooms are unlikely to overcome bad HVAC design. Bring in the HERS guy earlier rather than later, they can help catch bad design.

    A media room, particularly if adjacent to an outside wall, could have a fair cooling load. You also don't want to be hearing the equipment or airflow. Nothing more annoying than hearing equipment go on and off during a program.
    Which makes more sense to you?
    CONSERVATION - turning your thermostat back and being uncomfortable. Maybe saving 5-10%
    ENERGY EFFICIENCY - leaving your thermostat where everyone is comfortable. Saving 30-70%

    DO THE NUMBERS! Step on a HOMESCALE.
    What is comfort? Well, it AIN'T just TEMPERATURE!

    Energy Obese? An audit is the next step - go to BPI.org, or RESNET, and find an auditor near you.

  6. #6
    Have you considered ductless for either all or part of your home? With ductless you should be able to have as many zones as you would like. Installation costs may be more but today's highly efficient ductless heat pump systems could save you $ in the long run not to mention 0% duct leakage.

    I won't recommend a certain brand but I will tell you that (IMHO) you really get what you pay for with ductless brands.

    Seems like a win-
    -Lower operating costs
    -Reliability (with the right brand)
    -Greater comfort (inverter and variable capacity)
    -True zoning (you can actually turn zones completely off without worrying about air flow)
    -Flexibility (mix and match cassettes, ducted air handlers, wall units)

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Aug 2011
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    6
    Quote Originally Posted by tedkidd View Post
    I tend to think the most elegant design means one piece of equipment, but a home that size two might be required. Three seems like the engineer or architect didn't know how or want to spend the time to be creative.

    My inclination for a home with nearly 3000 sf per floor would be to DEFINITELY have one or two systems. Absolutely need communicating zoning. Two three ton systems would indicate great design IMO.

    If you haven't met your HERS rater, now would be a good time. A good HERS rater will help you get this design really figured out.
    In the love it or hate it coinflip on your new home granite countertops and marble bathrooms are unlikely to overcome bad HVAC design. Bring in the HERS guy earlier rather than later, they can help catch bad design.

    A media room, particularly if adjacent to an outside wall, could have a fair cooling load. You also don't want to be hearing the equipment or airflow. Nothing more annoying than hearing equipment go on and off during a program.
    I am not sure how much I can influence the design of the builder's system buy at least I would like to know if based on what they are telling me its worth spending the extra $1,100 to get the zones split between the bedrooms and the media/gameroom. I would have wanted to have the beds 4 and 5 on one zone, Media on one, game room on one and bed 6 on one....The house does have 3 units the downstairs floor is much bigger than the 2nd floor and therefore gets the 2 units..

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Aug 2011
    Posts
    6
    Quote Originally Posted by mckcd View Post
    Have you considered ductless for either all or part of your home? With ductless you should be able to have as many zones as you would like. Installation costs may be more but today's highly efficient ductless heat pump systems could save you $ in the long run not to mention 0% duct leakage.

    I won't recommend a certain brand but I will tell you that (IMHO) you really get what you pay for with ductless brands.

    Seems like a win-
    -Lower operating costs
    -Reliability (with the right brand)
    -Greater comfort (inverter and variable capacity)
    -True zoning (you can actually turn zones completely off without worrying about air flow)
    -Flexibility (mix and match cassettes, ducted air handlers, wall units)
    Thanks. I am not sure i can force the builder to change his design since its a production builder and not a custom one

  9. #9
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    Jul 2008
    Location
    Rochester NY
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    Quote Originally Posted by imureh View Post
    I am not sure how much I can influence the design of the builder's system buy at least I would like to know if based on what they are telling me its worth spending the extra $1,100 to get the zones split between the bedrooms and the media/gameroom. I would have wanted to have the beds 4 and 5 on one zone, Media on one, game room on one and bed 6 on one....The house does have 3 units the downstairs floor is much bigger than the 2nd floor and therefore gets the 2 units..
    1st, if you think of zoning as a product rather than a solution you are setting yourself up for some serious disappointment. Taking a seat from a Mercedes and attaching it to a buckboard does not get you a smooth ride. Your house is a system of systems that either work elegantly together, or fight each other. Reading between the lines, your equipment will be too big to zone, which means they are using a sledge hammer to hang pictures.

    Is this going to be an energy star rated home? If it is you have leverage, quality control. If it is, there will be an energy rater involved at some point. Find out who that is and contact them right away.

    Otherwise, assume you may end up ripping everything out to solve comfort issues if they won't let you customize. Builder grade equipment is typically really crappy, grossly oversized, low efficiency single stage and noisy.
    Which makes more sense to you?
    CONSERVATION - turning your thermostat back and being uncomfortable. Maybe saving 5-10%
    ENERGY EFFICIENCY - leaving your thermostat where everyone is comfortable. Saving 30-70%

    DO THE NUMBERS! Step on a HOMESCALE.
    What is comfort? Well, it AIN'T just TEMPERATURE!

    Energy Obese? An audit is the next step - go to BPI.org, or RESNET, and find an auditor near you.

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Jan 2009
    Location
    Keokuk, IA
    Posts
    5,520
    Carrier Infinity zoning can manage smaller zones better than other designs since it uses modualting dampers rather than just open and closed. It also uses a dump zone as needed and manages the airflow eliminate the need for a bypass damper.


    A media room and game raoom ca vary dramatically in heat loads. Occupancy, lighting and specific electronic equipment need to be taken into account for thseo zones. A half dozen guest playing games can generate a lot of heat. the ductwork (Manual D) needs to take that cooling demand into account.... that essentially willl make those zones larger despite theri square footage.

    For example, if I entertained frequently with 10 guests in my dining room I'd probably look at adding another register and splitting it and my kitchen into it's own zone. As it is, I just instead overcool the rest of the 1st floor to compensate.

    Some HVAC companies sadly have trouble understanding anything much other than square footage.

  11. #11
    Join Date
    Jul 2008
    Location
    Rochester NY
    Posts
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    Doesn't sound like he's got a snowballs chance of specifying an Infinity.

    Imagine, proper constructions and design this could easily be a 5 ton house, then one Infinity Greenspeed with 2 Infinity Zone Modules operating up to 8 zones would be amazing... Such a shame.
    Which makes more sense to you?
    CONSERVATION - turning your thermostat back and being uncomfortable. Maybe saving 5-10%
    ENERGY EFFICIENCY - leaving your thermostat where everyone is comfortable. Saving 30-70%

    DO THE NUMBERS! Step on a HOMESCALE.
    What is comfort? Well, it AIN'T just TEMPERATURE!

    Energy Obese? An audit is the next step - go to BPI.org, or RESNET, and find an auditor near you.

  12. #12
    Join Date
    Aug 2011
    Posts
    6
    Quote Originally Posted by motoguy128 View Post
    Carrier Infinity zoning can manage smaller zones better than other designs since it uses modualting dampers rather than just open and closed. It also uses a dump zone as needed and manages the airflow eliminate the need for a bypass damper.


    A media room and game raoom ca vary dramatically in heat loads. Occupancy, lighting and specific electronic equipment need to be taken into account for thseo zones. A half dozen guest playing games can generate a lot of heat. the ductwork (Manual D) needs to take that cooling demand into account.... that essentially willl make those zones larger despite theri square footage.

    For example, if I entertained frequently with 10 guests in my dining room I'd probably look at adding another register and splitting it and my kitchen into it's own zone. As it is, I just instead overcool the rest of the 1st floor to compensate.
    Some HVAC companies sadly have trouble understanding anything much other than square footage.
    I appreciate all your comments. However I am restricted on the type of system. I do have options for adding zoning. The builder uses manual J and is an energy star builder as well as a platinum level Environments for living builder. What I am trying to determine is whether what the builder is telling me about how to zone the upstairs addresses my concerns. I wanted total 4 zones but they are suggesting 2 so that each of the zones are large enough. Thanks

  13. #13
    Is the purpose for zoning to overcome exposure issues as recommended by your contractor or is it something you came up with?

    If single stage/speed equipment is your only option your contractor should be able to design a system that is zoned in a way to overcome inadequate exposure diversity. There are a lot of variables that cannot be addressed via this forum.

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