Heating System Guides

Consumer Buying Guides to Home Heating and Air Conditioning Systems

Zoned Central Heating and Air Conditioning Systems Information, Prices, and Buying Guides

A lot of homeowners wish they had an easy way to heat and cool specific areas, or zones of their home, and allow different temperatures throughout the different areas. For instance, how nice would it be to have your kitchen automatically cool down to 71 degrees from 4-7 pm when the oven is in use, but have the rest of your home maintain 75? It’s really not as hard as you may think!

Before central heating and cooling became the norm, it was easy to control the temperature in different areas of your home with different sized window air conditioners. You may have a 7500 btu in the kitchen and dining area, but only need a 3000 btu unit in the bedroom. Today, we’re lucky enough to have HVAC technology on our side, and your entire home can be climate controlled with an HVAC Zoning System.

In this Home Heating Systems guide, we’ll help you understand how an Zoned HVAC System works, as well as providing information about the items needed to zone a house, and the approximate hvac zoning cost, when you have it done by a pro. Since airflow is the lifeblood of a home heating and cooling system, restricting it can reduce the life of your unit, or completely kill it very quickly. We recommend talking to a professional before ever attempting to make this a DIY HVAC Zoning project!

What is HVAC Zoning?

HVAC Zoning allows you to heat and cool your home much more efficiently by treating your home as individual zones, then heating and cooling each area to its desired temperature with one main HVAC unit and a series of controls, thermostats and dampers in the duct system.

Here is a nice short video from Honeywell, to help you understand how an hvac zoning system works.

Basic Components of a Zoned HVAC System

Unlike old days of zoning a home hvac system, today, you may only need one central heating and air system to heat and cool a much larger home than it would normally handle with a single zone. Regardless of whether you have a heat pump system, electric furnace with duct or even a hybrid heating system for your home, the components needed to zone an hvac system are:

  • Main HVAC System with furnace, air conditioner, coil, duct system, etc (this is already installed in most home hvac systems)
  • Electronic Zoning Dampers (number needed, depends on number of zones. 3-4 is common)
  • Smart Zoning Thermostats (1 needed for each zone, usually comes with control board)
  • Zone Control Board and Sensors
  • Bypass Zone Damper and Duct (to allow extra air to feed back into system, prevent high/low air pressure issues, etc)
  • Extra Return Air Duct (Not always needed, but generally recommended!)

As you can see by the image above, the zone dampers are installed into your home duct system, close to the hvac unit. As the zone thermostats call for heating or cooling, the main systems starts up and runs, and the dampers divert airflow to the areas calling for heating or cooling. Some of the air will also be directed to other zones, but it will be minimized through the use of the bypass damper.

Cost of HVAC Zoning

The cost to add hvac zoning to your home really depends on several factors that are best left to a local HVAC professional to help you decide. While we can easily tell you the cost of the components, only a pro who has eyes on your home heating and air system, the existing duct work, and the ease of adding all the thermostats and/or sensors to the zones.

That said, we will share what often find to be the general range of prices for HVAC zoning.

Average Costs:

  • $250-$350 – 4-Zone Control Board and Sensors
  • $125 each, Mechanical Zoning Dampers (all open or all closed)
  • $300 each, Smart Zone Dampers (variable open or variable closed)
  • $80 – Roll of Thermostat wiring for controls
  • $85/hour, per HVAC Installer, for time to complete the project (at least 2 hours per zone)

In the end, adding a 4 zone system to a new or existing home hvac system costs approximately $2000 – $2500 on average. Adding it to a brand new system, should cost slightly less.The only way to know exactly how much it will cost for your home is to get a free quote from a local pro.

Share your own HVAC Zoning System Cost and Experience

If you have a residential zoned hvac system, please consider sharing the approximate cost and details below. it will only help others with their choices.

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  • 1 Adonis // Feb 28, 2013 at 3:10 pm


    I’m just wondering if you can help me. Is it possible to install 2 thermostat in one furnace? I have 1 furnace and I would like to control separately the temperature of the main floor over the 2nd floor. But the plan is to program the thermostat in the main floor where once we are in the 2nd floor the temperature setting in the main floor can be set at 15C and have the 2nd floor be about 22C. Is this can be done. Thanks

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