How Many Ductless HVAC Zones Do You Need?

When you install a mini split, you get to split your home into zones. Each zone has its own thermostat, allowing you to customize comfort in different parts of your home. Zones also help to boost efficiency because you don’t have to heat and cool spaces that aren’t in use.

So, how many zones do you need? The right answer varies based on your home, your personal preferences, and your budget. If you want to find out the optimal number of zones for your home, contact us today — we’ll send out a comfort consultant to help you design a system.

Otherwise, check out the following elements that affect the number of ductless zones in your home.

Cost of Ductless vs the Cost of Traditional HVAC

The Size of Your Home

The size of your home affects the number of zones that you need. However, it’s not the only factor that you need to consider. You also have to think about the layout of your home, the heat loads, and your personal preferences. Then, you have to consider the capacity of the units you select.

As a general rule of thumb, here are the potential number of zones that you need for different sizes of homes:

Square FeetNumber of Zones
700 to 9001 to 3 Zones
1000 to 13002 to 4 zones
1400 to 16003 to 5 zones
1700 to 20004 to 6 zones
up to 50006 to 8 zones

What if Your Home Is Larger Than 6,000 Square Feet?

If you have a 6,000 to 8,0000-square-foot home, you can usually get by with a single outdoor condenser and eight indoor air handling units. However, for larger homes, you may need more than one outdoor compressor.

Each compressor can attach to up to eight indoor air handling units. So, with two compressors, you can have up to 16 units — this provides a lot of flexibility for large homes.

Again, keep in mind that all of the above numbers are just rough estimates. The actual number of zones is heavily impacted by the layout of your home, as explained below.

The Layout of Your Home

Your layout arguably has a stronger impact on the number of zones than your square footage. For example, you may be able to easily heat and cool a 1000 square foot open plan studio with a single zone, but if you have a 1000 square foot bungalow with multiple closed-off rooms, you may need three or four zones.

Ductless HVAC Zones for Open Floor Plans

Depending on the size of your open area, you may want one to three HVAC units. Small open-plan kitchens and living rooms can easily be served by a single indoor air handling unit. But generally, with larger areas, you want one indoor air handling unit for each living space.

For example, you may want one unit for the kitchen area, one for the dining area, and one for the living room. That allows you to address the different heat loads in each of these spaces.

If you have an open-plan home that features an open main floor and then an open loft, you will need at least two zones. Generally, even if the space is open, the airflow between different floors is not sufficient enough for one indoor air handling unit to service the entire area.

Separate Rooms

If rooms are separated by doorways and walls, you generally need one unit or zone per room. However, you can get by with a single zone if there is ample airflow between the rooms — for example, an office separated from the master bedroom with French doors.

Alternatively, you can put a few rooms in the same zone by installing a single indoor air handler in an attic or crawl space and then running short-run ducts from that unit to vents in the rooms. In this situation, all of the rooms are in the same zone, but they have individual vents for optimal airflow.

Get Custom Advice on Heating and Cooling Zones

At N.E.T.R., Inc, we have worked with countless residential and commercial clients, but we also know that every situation is unique. When you work with us, we will tailor our advice to your unique situation. Ready to learn more? Then, contact us today.