What is Zone Heating?
Zone heaters are heaters that are used to heat certain spaces or rooms often referred to as 'zones'. Zone heaters come in a variety of designs and technologies, including ductless split wall-mounted units and smaller portable radiant or infrared heaters.
Unlike central heating systems, zone heaters concentrate heat to smaller areas, usually where the family spends the most time. It's not unusual for a home to have more than one zone heater.
The purpose of zone heaters is to reduce the home's heating expense and make some areas more comfortable, while those spaces not being used, remain cool.
Except for ductless split systems which must be installed, portability is generally the key feature of a zone or room heater, so it can be relocated to a different zone or area as needed.
As for energy efficiency, the energy savings will vary from one home to another depending on the type of technology and efficiency of the zone heater, how long it is used, how well the home is insulated and climate conditions. But some savings should be realized when one zone or room is kept comfortable and the main heating system is turned down for the rest of the home.
INTEK's patented Zonall electric infrared heater modules are designed to work individually for small areas or can be ganged together for larger areas. Ideal for commercial and industrial space heating applications, INTEK electric infrared Zonall heaters may be ceiling hung or wall mounted for effective space heating.
INTEK's Ceiling Stealth space heating units are available for drop ceiling installations such as offices, basements, cafeterias, vestibules, entryways, and cubicles. INTEK's patented design eliminates noise and maintenance while offering the highest efficiency since no blowers are necessary. Another distinct benefit, for clean and dirty environments alike, is that there are no reflectors to clean or polish making the INTEK design maintenance free and completely energy efficient.
Zone Heating Guide: Three Ways to Save on Utility Bills
Do you know how much you spend annually on heating and cooling expenses? According to the US Department of Energy, the average energy expenses for a home and businesses in the US is about $2200 a year, and over half of that goes towards heating and cooling. With a little planning, you can reduce that expenditure significantly by instituting a zone heating plan in your home and business.
The principle of zone heating is simple; only heat the rooms you're going to use. If you think about it, you already have zone systems installed in your place of business or home like your lighting and plumbing systems. You don't have to turn on every light in the office or when you go into the kitchen. Nor do you turn on every tap when you start the water running for a shower. Why should heating and cooling function any differently?
A zone heating system lets you control the temperature of your home from spot to spot instead of relying on a single thermostat in the center of your home or business. You can adjust each zone as needed to compensate for sun exposure, high ceilings, occupancy, or any activity that affects room temperature, without overheating or freezing people in the other parts of the building. You'll also notice a quicker rise in temperature, as only one part of the building has to warm up instead of the whole place.
There are three different ways of instituting a zone heating plan in your home or business, but they all have the same two goals:
- Save money on utility bills
- Make yourself more comfortable in your home or business
In this article we'll introduce each zone heating method, from the simplest to the most complicated, and discuss the advantages and disadvantages of each. At the end, we'll offer some tips for saving money on your heating costs, regardless of your zone heating system.
Convenient Compromise - Mini-Split System Zoning
Mini-split zone heating and cooling, which is alternatively called multi-split or ductless heating and cooling, are an efficient alternative to whole-house systems. They are easier to install than a duct-and-furnace system, more flexible in their configuration, and far less costly to set up and operate.
The basic technology is a heat pump, with a condenser unit that sits outside your house or business, just like an air conditioner. In fact, a heat pump really is just an air conditioner, but designed to pump both hot and cold air inside. It is a major advantage of this type of system, in that you get both heating and cooling without having too major appliances.
The second major advantage is that it does not require the installation of ductwork through your home or business. Instead, a conduit connects the condenser to one or more wall-mounted air handling units installed inside. The conduit contains a power cable, refrigerant tubing, suction tubing, and a conduit drain and requires only a small hole drilled in the wall to allow access.
A typical split system allows you place one to four air handlers in your home or business, each providing heating and cooling to a separate zone. Each handler has a thermostat and fan control that lets you adjust the temperature independently. The limits of the system are apparent if the zones in your home contain more than one room; an air handler in the master bedroom will have difficulty maintaining the same temperature in a bedroom across the hall, especially if doors are closed.
A split system runs on electricity, though overall electric heat pumps are much less expensive to operate than electricity-fueled furnaces. The other major drawback is that heat pumps are less efficient as the outside temperature drops, and are generally not suitable for cold climates. A mini-split system requires professional installation, and annual maintenance to ensure optimal output.
The Whole Shebang - Whole building Zoning
Whole building zone heating systems are becoming more and more popular in new building construction, and for people upgrading their home's or business HVAC system during remodeling. But they can be very expensive and require professional installation. However, these systems are best equipped to maintaining a comfortable level of even heat throughout an entire building.
Upstairs rooms can be six to ten degrees warmer than a ground level room. If you are keeping the downstairs at a comfortable temperature during the day, then your upstairs level, with all those empty bedrooms, is probably overheated. Similarly, rooms that are always too warm because they have southern exposure, or too cold because they have vaulted ceilings can benefit from zone heating installations.
The number of zones needed depends on the configuration of your house and your daily use. You'll need to identify the separate zoning needs of your house or business. Each zone has its own thermostat, and is served by its own system of ductwork, with dampers and bypass ducts to help direct air to whichever zone is being utilized.