Ashburn, VA

How much does an HVAC zoning system cost to install?

$1,700 – $4,500 average total cost

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January 11, 2022

Reviewed by Tom Grupa and 4 expert HVAC companies on HomeGuide.

HVAC zoning system cost

An HVAC zoning system costs $1,700 to $4,500 on average, depending on the number of zones and whether it's adding to a new or existing heating and cooling system. Adding a second zone to an existing HVAC costs $1,700 to $2,800, plus $350 to $500 per additional zone.

HVAC zoning system cost - chart
HVAC zoning system cost - chart

HVAC zoning system cost
Number of zones New construction Existing home
2-zone $1,500 – $2,000 $1,700 – $2,800
3-zone $1,800 – $2,300 $2,200 – $3,500
4-zone $2,000 – $2,600 $2,600 – $4,500
Per additional zone $225 – $350 $350 – $500

Average cost to install HVAC zoning system

The following table shows the average cost to install an HVAC zoning system.

Average cost to install HVAC zoning system - chart
Average cost to install HVAC zoning system - chart

Average cost to install HVAC zoning system
National average cost $3,100
Minimum cost $1,500
Maximum cost $8,500
Average cost range $1,700 to $4,500

Cost data is from research and project costs reported by HomeGuide members.

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Adding zones to existing HVAC cost

Adding zones to an existing HVAC system costs $1,700 to $2,800 for a two-zone system and $350 to $500 per additional zone. An HVAC zoning system allows homeowners to control the temperature in individual areas of the home independently, improving comfort and reducing energy costs.

Multi-zone HVAC zoning example by room
Multi-zone HVAC zoning example by room

Dual and multizone HVAC cost factors

An HVAC zoning system combines thermostats, a zone control panel, zone sensors, and duct dampers to create individual temperature areas in the home.

Dual and multizone HVAC cost factors
Factor Average cost
Multizone thermostat $100 – $600
Zone control panel $120 – $300
Zone sensors $30 – $60
HVAC zone dampers $70 – $340
Wiring $50 – $150
Fasteners, mastic, and duct sealing tape $50 – $230

Factors that affect the cost of an HVAC zoning system include:

  • Brand name vs. generic – Brand-name zoning equipment costs more but offers more features and reliability.
  • Zone damper type – Manual zone dampers operate via a handle outside the duct. Motorized dampers are triggered automatically by the zone control panel and are more convenient but cost more.
  • Thermostat type – Zoned HVAC systems use individual thermostats in each zone or link sensors to a multizone thermostat that controls the entire system:
    • A multizone thermostat costs $100 to $600 and links to sensors in each zone. A multizone thermostat controls the entire system from one location and is more energy-efficient.
    • Several thermostats – Adding a separate thermostat in each zone is the simplest method to monitor and control temperature. Thermostats cost $80 to $140 for digital programmable models or $100 to $250 for smart/wi-fi enabled models.
  • Wired or wireless – Wireless thermostats and sensors are more expensive but easy to install anywhere, saving on labor installation costs.
  • Single-stage vs. two-stage systems – Single-stage HVAC units require the addition of bypass ducts to reduce air pressure. Two-stage and variable-speed systems reduce airflow without bypass ducts.
  • Existing home or new construction – Retrofitting an existing HVAC system to add zones involves higher labor costs, especially for difficult installation in a confined attic space.
  • HVAC technicians charge $75 to $150 per hour. To design and install the zoning system, an HVAC contractor evaluates the home's size, layout, sun exposure, and room usage.
  • Hiring an electrician costs $40 to $100 per hour for labor to install a dedicated 240V circuit if needed.

HVAC zone control system cost

An HVAC zone control panel costs $120 to $300 and is the brain of the zoning system. The zone control panel communicates with the thermostats, sensors, dampers, and HVAC equipment to monitor air pressure within the ducts and maintain the desired temperature in each zone.

HVAC zone control system
HVAC zone control system

HVAC zone dampers installation cost

HVAC zone dampers cost $70 to $340 each, depending on the type, material, and quality. Dampers are plates, valves, or vents that open and close to direct the airflow in the ducts. Multiple dampers can be controlled together if they all serve the same zone.

HVAC zone dampers installation cost
Type Average cost
Dampers for round branch ducts $70 – $180
Rectangular dampers for large trunks $150 – $340

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HVAC zoning vs. two systems cost

An HVAC zoning system is effective in two-story or single-story homes with finished basements. If the existing equipment does not have enough capacity or will not support a zoned system, installing a second HVAC unit may be necessary instead.

HVAC zoning vs. two systems cost
Install option Average cost
HVAC zoning system $1,800 – $5,000
HVAC installation cost $5,000 – $11,000

When to install forced-air HVAC zoning

Installing an HVAC zoning system is best when building a new home or if the existing forced-air HVAC system already has enough capacity. An HVAC zoning system installed during new construction may be designed with fewer dampers than a retrofit requires.

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When to install two HVAC systems

Installing a second HVAC system is better than zoning when:

  • If the home is multi-level or has high ceilings
  • If the home has bay windows, picture windows, or large glass windows
  • If rooms in the home are always at different temperatures
  • Building a home addition that strains the existing HVAC system
  • Converting garage or attic space into extra living space
  • The current HVAC system doesn't have enough capacity to support the home
  • A secondary window unit better suits the budget and cooling needs. A window ac unit costs $150 to $800 and is an easy way to add a DIY cooling zone.

Two HVAC systems are recommended if the current HVAC is a single-stage unit. Single-stage systems blow air at full force regardless of how many zones are in use, which builds excess air pressure in the closed ducts. Installing bypass ducts relieves the pressure but increases costs and reduces efficiency.

Zoned ductless mini-split heating and cooling system

A ductless mini-split AC installation costs $2,000 to $13,000+, depending on the number of zones, BTUs, SEER rating, and brand. A mini-split system uses one outdoor unit connected to multiple indoor air handlers. Mini-splits are ideal for providing zoned temperature control without extensive duct modifications.

Install option Average cost
Single-zone / one-room $2,000 – $6,000
Dual-zone / two-room $2,500 – $8,000
Multi-zone (3+) $3,200 – $13,000+

DIY HVAC zoning system kit cost

A DIY HVAC zoning system kit costs $200 to $900, depending on the equipment included. Smart vents grouped with a smart thermostat may be installed with minor changes to the existing HVAC system. Smart zones are conveniently operated by an app or remote control.

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Pros and cons of HVAC zoning

Zoned heating and air conditioning allow for precise temperature control based on each room's specific needs, without the need for separate HVAC systems. Zoning has a high upfront cost but provides better temperature control and reduces energy costs.

Pros and cons of HVAC zoning
Pros Cons
  • Saves money and lowers energy bills by up to 40%
  • Better energy efficiency since unused rooms are not heated or cooled unnecessarily
  • Convenience to easily adjust the temperature in every room
  • Enhanced comfort for everyone to enjoy their preferred temperature
  • Improved temperature balance in rooms with more sun and heat
  • Longer HVAC lifespan due to reduced running cycles
  • Reduced maintenance costs on a single-unit system
  • High upfront costs for initial installation or retrofitting
  • Increased number of components make it challenging to diagnose problems
  • More points of failure due to multiple thermostats and motorized dampers
  • Professional installation is recommended for homes needing ductwork modifications
  • Current system capacity may require upgrades to support zoning

What is an HVAC zoning system?

An HVAC zoning system allows separate temperature control of individual rooms or areas of the home. Motorized dampers in the ducts open and close, diverting air to create separate temperature zones. Each zone is equipped with a thermostat or sensor linked to a master control panel that runs the system.

How does a 2-zone HVAC system work?

A 2-zone HVAC system uses duct dampers to route the air where it's needed, enabling one HVAC unit to control two separate zones. Each zone reaches its preferred temperature without impacting the other. For example, the living room is cooled all day without wasting AC on empty bedrooms.

Is HVAC zoning worth it?

HVAC zoning is worth the initial expense, particularly in homes that struggle to achieve a comfortable temperature balance due to multiple stories, high ceilings, large windows, or uneven sun exposure. Zoning provides energy savings of up to 40%, enough to pay for itself within five years.

What is the best HVAC zoning system?

The best HVAC zoning system is one that fits the budget, is compatible with the existing equipment, and offers reliable temperature control and a good warranty. One popular system is the Ecojay SmartZone, which offers simple installation and reliability and works with most standard HVAC equipment and wi-fi thermostats.

How to zone your HVAC system

Follow these steps to zone your HVAC system:

  1. Evaluate the home's layout, features, and room usage to design the zones.
  2. Evaluate the ductwork to determine if modifications are required.
  3. Install dampers within the ducts to control the airflow to each zone.
  4. Install a multizone thermostat and sensors or add a separate thermostat in each zone.
  5. Install a zone control panel.
  6. Connect the dampers, thermostat(s), sensors, and HVAC system to the zone control panel.
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Getting quotes from HVAC installers

When finding and hiring AC companies, be sure to:

  • Look for a NATE-certified HVAC contractor with experience installing zoning systems.
  • Read reviews and check out their previous work on HomeGuide and Google.
  • Select companies that are insured, bonded, and have been in business longer than five years.
  • Get at least three estimates to compare.
  • When comparing quotes, confirm they include equipment of the same size and quality.
  • Avoid selecting the lowest quote as quality may suffer.
  • Get a detailed estimate, contract, and warranty in writing before the work begins.
  • Never pay in full upfront. Follow a payment plan and do not make the final payment until fully satisfied.

Questions to ask

  • Are you licensed and insured to install an HVAC zoning system?
  • Are you NATE certified or ACCA accredited?
  • How many years have you been installing HVAC zoning systems?
  • How many zones does my home require?
  • Are there any rebates available?
  • How long will it take to install the zoning system?
  • What extra costs should I expect?
  • What kind of maintenance will the system require?
  • Will you provide a list of references with contact information?
  • May I have a copy of your insurance policy for my records?
  • Do you guarantee your work or offer an extended warranty?

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