What is a Thermal Zone in an HVAC system?

A thermal zone is an individual space or group of neighboring indoor spaces that the HVAC designer expects will have similar thermal loads. Building codes may require zoning to save energy in commercial buildings. Zones are defined in the building to reduce the number of HVAC subsystems, and thus initial cost.

For example, for perimeter offices, rather than one zone for each office, all offices facing west can be combined into one zone. Small residences typically have only one conditioned thermal zone, plus unconditioned spaces such as garages, attics, crawlspaces, and basements.

What are the benefits of having a thermal zone system?

Some benefits of having a thermal zone system include:

  • reducing the number of HVAC subsystems,
  • and thus initial cost;
  • saving energy in commercial buildings;
  • and improving indoor air quality.

Who makes thermal zone AC units? Who made thermal zone furnaces?

There are many brands that make thermal zone AC units. Some of the more popular brands include Carrier, Trane, and York.

How do I read my thermal zone model number?

The model number for a Carrier thermal zone AC unit, for example, will be something like “48ZP00:

  • The first two digits (48) refer to the unit’s tonnage.
  • The next letter (Z) tells you which series the unit belongs to. In this case, the “Z” series is their top-of-the-line, most efficient series.
  • The next letter (P) tells you which style of the unit it is. In this case, the “P” means it’s a packaged unit, which means the AC and heating components are all in one cabinet.
  • The last two digits (00) denote the specific model within that series and style.

Thermal zoning in buildings

Thermal zoning in buildings is the process of dividing the building into a number of thermal zones, each with its own temperature set point. The purpose of zoning is to minimize the energy consumption of the heating, ventilation, and air conditioning (HVAC) system by providing the occupants with the most comfortable indoor environment possible while still meeting the design requirements for the building.

Thermal zoning can be used in both new construction and retrofit projects. In new construction, zoning is typically accomplished by dividing the building into a series of HVAC zones, each with its own thermostat. In a retrofit project, zoning may be accomplished by installing a zone damper in an existing ductwork system. Zone dampers are controlled by a central thermostat or series of thermostats and allow the HVAC system to direct heating or cooling to only those areas of the building that need it.

Thermal zoning is an important part of an energy-efficient HVAC system design. By providing the occupants with individual control over the temperature in their space, zoning can help to reduce or eliminate the need for mechanical cooling and heating, saving both energy and money. In addition, by reducing the amount of time that the HVAC system needs to operate, zoning can also help to extend the life of the system.

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