Choosing Between A Single-Zone Vs. A Multi-Zone Ductless System Setup

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Now that you have made up your mind about getting a ductless HVAC system for your home, your next goal is to choose between a single-zone system and a multi-zone system. Knowing what your needs are will help you determine which system is right for you. To help you choose, here are some useful tips you should know about a single-zone vs. a multi-zone ductless system.

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What Is Zoned Heating And Cooling?

Zoned heating and cooling refers to a system that allows homeowners to divide homes into several temperature zones. Doing so will let you heat and cool these zones at different temperatures, with each zone having a different temperature from others. A central air conditioning system works similarly, but ductless systems offer a more innovative approach. Thanks to temperature zoning, ductless HVAC systems are considered more practical and efficient than more traditional heating and cooling solutions, especially since it offers more control.

Advantages Of Zoned Heating And Cooling Systems

Temperature zoning offers several benefits for your home, such as:

  • Precise Temperature Control: With temperature zoning, you can choose to heat or cool a room or zone using a thermostat via remote control. The latest ductless system models today offer highly advanced features that even allow you to control the unit using an app on your mobile device or smart tablet. This type of connectivity lets you have complete control over the comfort of specific areas in your home.
  • Customized Comfort: With better control, you can enjoy more personalized comfort that caters to every need and preference. If one family member prefers an area at a certain temperature, and another member prefers another area at another temperature, this can be accomplished with no issues.
  • Cost-Efficiency: The design of ductless mini-splits makes them more efficient at using energy compared to traditional HVAC systems. Ductless mini-splits also have higher EER and SEER ratings. Ductless systems also eliminate the need for ductwork, which is a common cause of conditioned air due to leaks. Not only are ductless mini-split systems energy-efficient, but they are also cost-efficient.
  • Compact, Versatile Design: Ductwork is rendered unnecessary, which means that there is no need for bulky components that obstruct and require plenty of space.
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Understanding Single-Zone Vs. Multi-Zone Ductless Systems

The single-zone heating and cooling system are composed of one outdoor unit and one single indoor unit. Essentially, it is a 1:1 setup, wherein one room or zone uses only one ductless mini-split system. Although there are other options such as window air conditioners, single-zone ductless mini-splits are a better choice because they are more efficient, offering increased savings, improved indoor air quality, and better performance.

Single-Zone Ductless Systems

Single-zone heating and cooling systems are excellent for newly added rooms to the home. If there is some space that you want to convert into a functional area such as an attic, you can install a ductless single-zone system so it can be used as a bedroom or workroom. A single-zone system is also a good choice to control the temperature in rooms that are newly constructed. Lastly, if you are planning on replacing or upgrading your old HVAC system, consider using a ductless system.

If ductwork is a problem, a single-zone system may just be the solution. In homes where installing or adding new ductwork is not possible, ductless systems are the perfect alternative. Many homes simply cannot accommodate ductwork, such as in structures with limited space or historic homes. It is also possible that installing additional ductwork may be too costly to be practical. Installing a single-zone ductless system lets you enjoy the benefits of a traditional heating and cooling system, with added perks. After all, a ductless system is more energy-efficient. You can eliminate virtually every problem that can be traced to the limitations that ducted and conventional HVAC systems have.

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Understanding Multi-Zone Heating And Cooling

A multi-zone heating and cooling system is a solution that allows homeowners to use multiple indoor units with only one compressor. This system lets you heat and cool several rooms or zones all at the same time or just choose which rooms to cool or heat. One compressor in this system can handle as many as eight indoor air handlers.

A multi-zone heating and cooling system is the better choice for your home if it is a large structure consisting of two or several floors. You can also use this system if you have an older home that cannot accommodate a new ductwork installation. If you have an existing ducted system that has become less efficient, consider getting a multi-zone system.

In households where family members have different temperature needs and preferences, getting a multi-zone system installed can settle every argument about areas being too cold or too warm. Each indoor unit in this system comes with its own individual controller on which you can set a specific temperature. For example, you could set a higher temperature in the bedrooms and a lower temperature in the living room. The individual controllers will also allow you to turn off the heat or air conditioning in unoccupied rooms, which means you can save on the cost of energy. This level of control, customization, and cost-savings is the reason why many households are turning to ductless mini-splits.

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How Are Single-Zones And Multi-Zones Different?

Let’s take a look at all the comparable factors between single-zone systems and multi-zone systems.


A single-zone system is understandably cheaper than a multi-zone system. The price is merely a reflection of how many indoor units are necessary to provide sufficient heating and cooling for your home. The number of these units will depend on the number of zones you have. If you have four designated zones, for example, you will also need four indoor units.


Ductless mini-split systems are generally easier to install. It is quite possible that an HVAC contractor can complete the installation in a day. However, between a single-zone and a multi-zone system, the single-zone system is easier to install since there are fewer indoor units to set up.

Other Components

There are only three primary components in a single-zone system – the refrigerant line, the indoor unit, and the outdoor unit. A multi-zone system, however, will require additional components. Again, this will depend on the number of zones you have designated in your home. If there are more zones, expect more combinations of the components.


Ductless Mini-Split Choices

Now that you have learned the advantages and limitations of both single-zone systems and multi-zone systems, you can take a look at the different types of indoor and outdoor ductless units currently available. Knowing what your choices are will help you achieve the comfort and convenience you want.

In a mini-split system, the outdoor unit is the compressor or condensing unit. The available models come in a variety of capacities, although they have a similar build. The indoor unit, however, offers options in terms of capabilities and styles. Here are the choices you should consider:

  • Wall-Mounted: A wall-mounted indoor unit is one that can be installed on a wall. Wall mounts are quite popular because they are very easy to install; they are also least costly to work on as well.
  • Horizontal-Ducted:  A horizontal-ducted installation is the least unobtrusive option because an HVAC contractor mounts the indoor unit on the soffit or above the ceiling. This way, the unit can push air to multiple zones through hidden ducts. A horizontal-ducted installation is also known as concealed because the larger indoor unit is kept out of sight and the only components you can see are the grills through which treated air is distributed.
  • Ceiling Cassette: A ceiling cassette refers to a recessed indoor unit, wherein the installation of the unit is away from sight in the ceiling. This allows the HVAC system to distribute the air in four different directions at once. This is a style that works well in large areas because it can provide consistent air temperature throughout. It is also a good option for smaller and cramped areas.
  • Floor-Mounted: This style allows for the installation of the unit on the floor or a short distance from the floor. This style is many homeowners’ preference because it allows easy access and maintenance.


Which Type Of Ductless HVAC System Should You Choose?

The choice you make between a single-zone and a multi-zone system will ultimately determine which is the better type of solution for your needs and not so much about which system is better. To zero in on your final choice, consider factors that are to your advantage. This includes your needs, preferences, location, and other requirements. You should also consider other important factors such as the size of your home, the number of rooms and floors you have, the existing structure (whether or not it will allow installation), and your budget. Keep in mind that either a single-zone and multi-zone system can provide reliable and efficient heating and cooling. Ultimately, it will all boil down to which system is better for your home, based on your needs.

To help you make a good decision, seek the advice of your local HVAC contractor. HVAC professionals have the training and experience to fully understand your needs and help you make a choice that will give you the comfort, safety, and cost-saving advantage you want. An expert can also give you advice on the best type, model, and make that suits your needs and preferences.

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Call Townsend Energy To Learn More About Ductless HVAC Systems

te logoIf you are ready to switch to a ductless HVAC system or have more questions, call Townsend Energy today. Our experienced NATE-certified technicians will discuss your needs and requirements to help you find the best ductless HVAC system for you.

Townsend Energy is a full-service HVAC company that services residential and commercial properties throughout New England. We offer a range of heating and cooling services, including HVAC installations, repairs, tune-ups, and more. Our experienced, NATE certified professionals can find the best home heating and cooling solutions for your home while working with your budget. We aim to improve your home’s level of energy efficiency, comfort, and indoor air quality. Our work is backed by a warranty to ensure your satisfaction. We also provide free, in-home estimates. Call Townsend Energy today.

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