ZoningSupply.com - Zone Control

HVAC Zone Controls & Zoning Dampers

HVAC Contractors

ADD-A-WIRE with Zone Control

HVAC Contractors, homeowners, Other HVACzoning supplyComment

An ADD-A-WIRE device can be used when upgrading to thermostats that need a "COMMON" wire from one that didn't have one... and there is no way to run the additional wire needed.  This device, ranging from $15 to $40 can come in very handy especially in the case of zone control where one or more thermostat does not have enough wires to accomodate a modern thermostat such as a WiFi thermostat.

Be sure to follow the wiring diagram for the specific model of "ADD-A-WIRE" as well as the system type.  Show here is the LUX Products LPB-WH Power Bridge wired to a GAS/ELECTRIC thermostat and SmartZone-4X controller, however, the basic principal is the same for any application.

lux addawire instructions.jpg

All of the different ADD-A-WIRE models come with instructions, read them carefully and follow exactly and you won't have any problems.

For more information about the method of ADD-A-WIRE when there is no way to run an extra wire from your zone panel to your equipment, check out this post:
https://zoningsupply.com/blog/upgrading-thermostats-solving-a-common-problem

From an engineering perspective this is an elegant and simple solution.  Without giving away trade secrets, the ones i have tested use the a half wave bridge using diodes at the thermostat and some simple relay logic plus the another half wave at the equipment (no micro necessary) to use only 1 wire for both Y and G signals.... brilliant.

For more information, or with any questions, please contact us.

Upgrading thermostats; solving a "common" problem

HVAC Contractors, Support, homeownerszoning supplyComment

So, maybe you have decided to upgrade to a Wifi thermostat, or even just a standard "programmable" thermostat... only, you come to discover that your old thermostat has one less wire connected to it than the new thermostat needs.   This is usually the "24VAC Common" wire sometimes just called "C" or "24C".   This means that your old thermostat was either mechanical, power stealing, or battery operated... which isn't a problem if you don't want a modern thermostat.  MOST modern thermostats (especially WiFi) need a "C" wire from the 24V transformer to power the thermostat... this means getting a "C" wire to the thermostat.

This isn't a new problem, it started showing up in the 1980s with the first programmable thermostats... over the years, I have suggested and used several different methods to overcome this issue both with zoning and with typical single thermostat applications.  Until recently, I couldn't really recommend anything other than running a new wire... and running a new wire isn't always possible.

METHODS to add "C" Wire

  1. Run another wire to the thermostat
    The most straightforward and full-proof method is obvious: run another wire.  If possible, this is ALWAYS your best solution.
  2. Power thermostat from separate transformer
    Don't use this method... it is risky and not all thermostats support the ability to separate the "R" from the equipment transformer.
  3. Use the "G" wire for "C"
    This method DOES work but it limits the functionality of your thermostat control.  (ie. you will not be able to independently control fan from the thermostat)  The reason this works, is that the equipment automatically turns the fan on during a heating or cooling call, so the "G" wire controlling the fan from the thermostat is only necessary to turn the fan on by itself.  You will NOT be able to turn fan on from the thermostat by itself with this method.
    NOTE: This works with MOST equipment, but you should check or test before employing this method. (#3)
  4. ADD-A-WIRE Device
    It is the BEST method and really the only method I would use if a wire cannot be run.  This is a relatively new concept to me... it has been around for a few years at least but we just started recommending it within the last 2 years.    Several companies have started offering an "ADD-A-WIRE" device that allows the addition of a "COMMON" wire.  These devices range from $15 - $40 and are very simple to wire (you have to be able to get to your equipment furnace/blower). 
lux addawire.JPG

How an ADD-A-WIRE Device works:

venstar addawire.JPG

It will come in 2 pieces, one is a small box with several connections labled "R", "C", "Y", "G", "W".  You will follow the included wiring instructions to connect this box at your indoor HVAC equipment.  The other piece that comes with the ADD-A-WIRE is a wiring connector with 3 leads, this connects at the back of your thermostat as shown in the wiring instructions.
Once these two pieces are wired properly you will have the "C" you need for any thermostat... it's almost like magic (electrical engineering magic).

NOTE: Make sure all wiring is done with the power to the HVAC equipment OFF at the breaker.

A few different models to choose from (prices on amazon at time of writing)  There are many others available but they all do the same thing (NOTE: we are not compensated by any of these companies or any others for our opinions):

For more information about specific use with zoning and zone control systems such as SmartZone... contact us

Another thing to consider:  The ecobee3 and ecobee3 LITE both come with an "ADD-A-WIRE" type device.  So, if you are thinking about a WiFi thermostat and are afraid you will need to add a wire... keep the ecobee in mind.  See our WiFi stat roundup for more info

De-humidification and SmartZone - Zone 1 Thermostat Control

HVAC Contractors, Other HVAC, Supportzoning supplyComment

Although SmartZone does not have any built-in capabilities for controlling DE-humidification (DH) or Humidification, some applications are possible by using a thermostat on ZONE 1 that does have the capability to control DH.

DE-humidification, in most residential systems, is simply running the equipment in COOLING with LOW speed fan instead of HI speed fan.

Before we get to zoning, the equipment being used must have the capability to control humidity.  This usually means it has a terminal (DH/BK/DS) that is energized or DE-energized by a thermostat to control fan speed of the equipment.  Controlling fan speed allows the equipment to DE-humidify the air when the fan is running in low speed.

Back to zoning, using zone 1 thermostat to control DH is not as simple as wiring directly from the thermostat to the equipment.  PLEASE DO NOT DO THIS.  The equipment and the zone thermostats are running on different transformers and this will case problems and potentially damage to some components.  You could isolate the output from the thermostat with a relay to get around this issue of different transformers but you would still have an issue with this method of wiring "around" the zone controller.  The issue can arise when zone 1 calls for DH but the equipment is already running in heat, this mixed signal might just be ignored by the equipment but we cannot take that for granted... all equipment works differently.

ecojay smartzone de-hum using y2 -BASIC.JPG

The best way to control DH using SmartZone on single stage equipment is by using the method below.  It may seem a little UN-orthidoxed but it is a valid APP note from the engineer at Ecojay (It's intended to work this way).

  1. Select a DH enabled thermostat of your choice
  2. Connect Y2/ECO on SmartZone Zone 1 to Zone 1 Thermostat DH/DS/BK
  3. Connect Y2 on SmartZone Equipment toEquipment DH/DS/BK
  4. Set Zone 1 "STAT TYPE" to G2
  5. Set DIP switch #4 to "LOCKOUT"

Zone 1 thermostat will now enable and disable DE-humidification any time the equipment is running in the cooling mode.
NOTE: When starting cooling from OFF state, 90 second delay will occur before HIGH speed fan will energize.

Using this method we are assuming that the equipment is expecting DS/BK/DH input terminal to be ENERGIZED for high speed fan and DE-ENERGIZED for low speed fan.  This method should not be used for more than 3 zones or with multi-stage compressor equipment.


SmartZone-2X
149.00 199.00
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This application will work with Ecojay's SmartZone-2X and SmartZone-4X.  Learn more

 Click for SmartZone-2X/4X Install Guide

Click for SmartZone-2X/4X Install Guide

MEP Drawings & Specs for Generic HVAC Zone Control System

HVAC Contractors, HVAC Industry, Zone Control Infozoning supplyComment

Typical wording for HVAC Mechanical drawings to include SmartZone Zone control (2 to 8 zones):

ECOJAY SMARTZONE ZS2X (2 ZONES) OR ZS4X (UP TO 4 TO 8 ZONES)

1. SMARTZONE CONTROLLER SHALL INCLUDE FLASH BASED MICROPROCESSOR FOR AUTOMATIC CONTROL OF UP TO 2 ZONES (ZS2X), 4 ZONES (ZS4X) OR 8 ZONES (TWO-ZS4X CONTROLLERS) ON A SINGLE HVAC SYSTEM.

2. SMARTZONE CONTROLLER SHALL INCLUDE LED DISPLAY WITH FULL TEXT STATUS
MONITORING AND DIAGNOSIS OF THE ENTIRE SYSTEM STATUS AND SUPPLY TEMPERATURE.

3. SMARTZONE CONTROLLER SHALL CONTAIN ELECTRONIC LIMIT CONTROL (ELC) SUPPLY AIR SENSOR WHICH ALLOWS CONSTANT MONITORING OF THE LEAVING (SUPPLY) AIR TEMPERATURE

5. PUSH BUTTONS SHALL ALLOW FOR DIGITAL ADJUSTMENT OF HIGH AND LOW LIMIT

4. IN THE EVENT OF SUPPLY AIR SENSOR OR SENSOR WIRING FAILURE, THE CONTROLLER SHALL CONTINUE OPERATING THE HVAC SYSTEM AS A SINGLE ZONE SYSTEM WITHOUT INTERRUPTION

6. ON HEAT PUMPS SYSTEMS, EMERGENCY HEAT MUST BE INITIATED FROM THERMOSTAT #1, NOT A SWITCH ON THE ZONE CONTROL BOARD.

7. EACH ZONE CONTROLLER THERMOSTAT TERMINAL AND EQUIPMENT TERMINAL SHALL HAVE A COLOR-CODED LED ALLOWING FOR EASY MONITORING OF THERMOSTATS AND SYSTEM CALLS.

8. ROUND ZONE DAMPER MOTORS SHALL BE 2-POSITION (OPEN/CLOSE) DESIGN WITH A SOFT-EDGE BLADE DAMPER SIZE AS ROUND DUCT IN WHICH BLADE GASKET AND SHALL BE POWERED BY 24VAC POWER OPEN / POWER CLOSE MOTOR DEVELOPING MINIMUM 10 IN-LB. OF TORQUE AT MAX 4 VA

9. RECTANGULAR ZONE DAMPER MOTORS SHALL BE 2-POSITION (OPEN/CLOSE) DESIGN WITH EXTRUDED ALUMINUM FRAME & LOUVERS & METAL SHAFT LINKAGES AND SHALL BE POWERED BY 24VAC POWER OPEN / POWER CLOSE MOTOR DEVELOPING MINIMUM 10 IN-LB. OF TORQUE AT MAX 4 VA

10. ALL ZONE DAMPERS SHALL INCLUDE ACCURATE, NON-ADJUSTABLE & ADJUSTABLE, BLADE POSITION INDICATOR AND ADJUSTABLE MINIMUM STOP CAPABILITY (MIN OPEN & MIN CLOSE).

11. AUTOMATIC, ELECTRONIC BYPASS DAMPER WITH STATIC PRESSURE CONTROL IS REQUIRED WITH 24V ELECTRIC ACTUATORS UNLESS NOTED OTHERWISE.

12. ZONE CONTROLLER, DAMPER MOTORS AND THERMOSTATS SHALL BE POWERED WITH A SEPARATE 24V FUSED TRANSFORMER (TYPICALLY 40VA) PROVIDED BY HVAC CONTRACTOR.

13. CONTACT ECOJAY.COM or 1-888-523-ECOJAY FOR MORE INFORMATION OR TRAINING

Need more than 40VA to power LOTs of dampers on one SmartZone?

HVAC Contractors, Supportzoning supplyComment

Some systems with many small ducts leading to each zone can require lots of dampers.  The example below is a 2 zone system that requires 6 dampers per zone (12 total).  If you look at the zoning guide, you will find that you should budget for at least 55VA for this system... but you only have 40 VA transformers.  75 and 100 VA transformers can get VERY expensive!  Instead you can use two 40VA transformers, but not how you think.  It can be dangerous and unreliable to connect transformers in parallel to create ~80VA.  We recommend the method below that employs the use of a simple relay to separate half of the dampers to be powered from a second transformer and the other half being powered by the SmartZone and it's transformer.

See the SmartZone Install Guide to calculate required VA.

It is always necessary to verify that the PRIMARY side power is sufficient to power the transformer connected.  A dedicated PRIMARY circuit is best but not always possible.  If sharing the 110V or 220V circuit, make sure the total power required for all devices connected (including zoning transformers) doesn't exceed the capacity of the circuit (usually 15 or 20 AMPS).

Where to get a relay?
Any 24V relay with a DPST or DPDT configuration will work.  The one pictured in the above diagram is available at ZoningSupply.com (see below).   If you are chosing your own relay, the "Contact" current rating will determine how many dampers can be connected.  (For example: A 10 Amp relay can handle up to 10 power open, power closed dampers)

24V Relay - DPDT
16.00
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Power Open/Close Motor
59.99 79.99
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New & Improved Rectangle Dampers available at ZoningSupply.com

Products, HVAC Contractors, ZoningSupplyzoning supplyComment

Tired of flimsy residential-grade rectangular dampers that easily bend and bind and, worse yet, stop working prematurely.  We, at ZoningSupply, are too!  And, we have the answer with this commercial-grade, super-duty rectangular damper.  Like all of our power dampers, it includes the best motor in the industry (Belimo) and now is constructed with heavy guage aluminim for rigidity and long-life.

Heavy-Duty

Rectangle Damper

Rectangular HVAC Dampers
from 175.00

8" X 8" thru 24" X 24"
New & Improved Heavy-Duty
Aluminum rectangular damper w/ Ecojay by Belimo motor
Built to stand up to use and abuse

SPEC SHEET

SHIPPING TIME: 2 Weeks

(because they are made to order)
RETURNS for rectangular dampers require 35% restocking fee because they are custom made to order... make sure you order the correct size.

NOTE: Order "Height" for the side with the motor.

Height:
Width:
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No other rectangle zone damper on the market is as sturdy or reliable.  Simplicity of design and precision manufacturing in the USA (Ohio & Texas) make for the BEST rectangular damper that has ever been available to the residential zone control market.  Try it for yourself today.

Ashrae 62-2 Ventilation (Fresh Air) sizing & calculation

HVAC Contractors, Support, Other HVACzoning supplyComment

Many homes these days have such tight seals around doors, windows, and even closed-cell foam insulation... they are almost air-tight.  You can think of an old house like an antique metal or wooden ice box where modern homes are more like Yeti coolers.  While this is great for keeping temperatures steady inside the home, it also can trap moisture and toxic gases inside.  Fresh air ventilation is necessary to keep a healthy and efficient home.

But how much fresh air is needed?  If you bring in too much, you will make your HVAC equipment work too hard and loose efficiency.  If not enough fresh air is brought into the home, the air can become humid and allow mold growth or VOCs and other toxins can build up.  Luckily, the national organization ASHRAE has a specific recommendation for the amount of air based on occupancy and square footage of the home.  See table below.

However, this table should not be taken as gospel.  Just like other HVAC calculations and estimations, many factors are not really being taken into account with this rough estimate based on # of bedrooms (occupancy) and square footage.  Some adjustments may be needed based on factors such as climate, ceiling height, other air-leakage, etc.  To comply with 62-2 is the baseline & adjustments can be made in the field by setting run-time.

Learn more about how SmartZone-4X can control fresh air more efficiently than a separate fresh-air controller in the Install Guide

Fact or Myth? #HVAC #Zonecontrol can save energy

homeowners, HVAC Contractorszoning supplyComment
SmartZone zone control

First of all, if you are not familiar with HVAC Zoning (Zone control) for your home you can click here and learn more about how it works.

Sometimes, zoning is pitched as a device that can be added to your current HVAC system that will "save you energy" because you are able to turn "off" heating and cooling to areas that are not being used.  Sounds good, right?  Well...there a "but."  This as actually a highly debated or more aptly put... highly contested claim among HVAC professionals.

The simple fact is that it isn't a simple answer but the simplest version is:  HVAC Zoning CAN save energy in some applications.

Not all applications of zoning are intended to save energy, some are set up to optimize comfort.  In these situations, energy savings may not the top priority but it can still be set up to help save energy when the comfort is not in demand.

Zoning puts the control in the hands of the user (homeowner) via the thermostats.  These thermostats can be set to optimize energy savings or comfort... or, most likely, somewhere in between.

Some believe the primary purpose of zoning is comfort & I would agree, but, SmartZone can be used in some applications to save energy by reducing necessary run-time.

As far as I have found there have been very few and NO independent studies on the energy savings capabilities of hvac zone control but I have personally been in the industry for 14 years and I believe I know why.  Every test I have seen is try to prove some % of energy savings and yet there is a flaw with even the question that is being asked.  The problem with this question is that it is looking for an automatic percentage saving when zoning is installed.  I think this gets to the heart of why the professionals that dispute zone control's ability to "save energy" do so. 

This is an IMPORTANT NOTE:  HVAC Zone Control by itself will NOT save energy.  However, it CAN be used to save energy.

A proper study to prove that zone control CAN save energy would be straight-forward.   Two identical houses with identical hvac systems, one with a 2 zone system & the other with a single thermostat.  On the house with zoning, set one thermostat to OFF 12 hours per day and the other thermostat to run a normal 24hr / 7 day schedule.  The thermostat schedule should be the same as the 24hr / 7 day schedule in the house with only one thermostat.  This study would show that zoning can save energy if used in certain ways.

SmartZone has been around since 2004 and we have over 200,000 installed in the field.  We have seen direct feedback that empirically shows energy savings, not just in isolated cases but in extremely high volume.  First hand, real-world experience shows that it can be done, but it also shows that in cases where comfort is the priority... energy savings isn't a guarantee with zone control.

Check out SmartZone at ZoningSupply.com

SmartZone-4X
199.00 299.00
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NEW to ZoningSupply - Insertable (Retrofit) Dampers

HVAC Contractors, Productszoning supplyComment

We are proud to announce the continuation of our damper product line here at ZoningSupply.com with the "Insert-able" damper.

Ecojay SmartZone Slip-in insertable damper

Some applications call for dampers that can be "slipped" into round duct that is spiral or other hard pipe style duct.  This is not intended for use with flex-duct but can be used with any other type of hard duct.  Simply cut a slit in the duct, insert the damper and screw it down.

Ecojay SmartZone Insertable Damper
PRO-Grade Insert Zone Damper (Retrofit)
from 89.00

4", 5", 6", 7", 8", 9", 10", 12" ROUND Diameter Dampers

FEATURES:
Industry-leading quality & highest reliability, Belimo Motor, Full-seal gasket blade, makes mounting in any round duct easy with these super-heavy duty retro-fit slip-in dampers

NOTE: All dampers subject to a 10% restocking fee.
 

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Air balancing information & IOT evaluation from ContractingBusiness

Other HVAC, HVAC Contractorszoning supplyComment

Good articles that can affect HVAC zone control

If your technicians aren’t checking system airflow on every service call, you’re doing your company and your customers a disservice. Air balancing is the missing link in getting residential HVAC systems to perform at or near their peak levels.
— ContractingBusiness.com

 Photo by scyther5/iStock / Getty Images
It is easy to be confused when it comes to the Internet of Things (IoT), with so many products and objects being connected and made more intelligent. It sounds overly complex, but one application that is easy to understand is HVAC IoT.

HVAC IoT is made up of a system of smart thermostats placed throughout building zones. The devices, and therefore the zones, are connected over wireless and software and work together as one brain. The brain has a nervous system with sensor endings in every room, hallway or lobby to monitor any environmental changes that could prompt the HVAC system to react
— ContractingBusiness.com

HVAC Contractors: Out-Perform the Competition with ZoningSupply.com

Other HVAC, HVAC Contractors, HVAC Industry, ZoningSupplyWhitney PitzerComment

Contractors nowadays are finding that homeowners and business-owners are looking for all the bells and whistles they can reasonably afford and install. Among features like energy-efficient fixtures and home-automation, HVAC zoning is usually near the top of this list. Of course, zoning offers multiple benefits to homes and buildings as it can save energy and provide a custom level of comfort.

As HVAC zoning rises in popularity, homeowners and business-owners are beginning to ask for it by name.

How can contractors make the most of this movement?
It starts with choices. Many contractors have unfortunately limited themselves to zone control systems that sit at the top of the market (as well as the top of the price-range.) This would be great if these “name-brand” zoning systems offered quality, reliability and features that justified the price. This is simply not the case. Contractors who have worked with zoning for a while can attest to this. The good news is that there are now many choices when it comes to zone controls, dampers, and equipment. Contractors and suppliers can now sift through the choices and figure out which systems are the simplest to install, the most reliable, and provide the best customer support.

This is where ZoningSupply.com comes in. ZoningSupply guarantees their products to be the most reliable, the easiest to install, and the most affordable in the marketplace. Hundreds of contractor and homeowner testimonials over the past 10+ years sing praises of the top-notch products they offer.
Here’s why . . .

Contractor-Friendly
The engineers behind ZoningSupply products will tell you that their systems were designed with the contractor in mind. In other words, full-color install guides, screwless wiring, and color-coded LEDs are only the start. If a contractor picks up the phone and talks to Jeff or one of our other tech-support specialists, they’ll be sure to have all of their questions answered quickly but thoroughly.  

Easy-to-follow instructions and simple design make for a lightning-fast install.  

Ship Direct for Free
Furthermore, ZoningSupply.com can ship anywhere in the U.S. for free. Individual components or entire systems can be purchased on the website and delivered straight to your office or job site,  

Affordable
ZoningSupply’s featured SmartZone 2x, 4x, and 2L systems are among the most affordable in the marketplace. This puts money in your pocket and provides savings that can be passed along to homeowners.

Universally Compatible
If a contractor uses ZoningSupply, they can confidently offer retrofit options for virtually any existing HVAC system on the market. This means not having to learn and re-learn various installation procedures. This also means that nearly every home or building in your area can be retrofitted for zoning . . . Think of the opportunities!

With zone control systems, as with any product, there are the good, the bad, and the ugly. In the end, they all must answer to the contractors and ultimately the homeowners. When bidding on projects or marketing their services, contractors should equip themselves with the confidence and reliability that ZoningSupply.com products provide.