Multi-Zone vs. Multiple Single-Zone Systems

Multi-Zone vs. Multiple Single-Zone Systems

When choosing to heat, cool, and ventilate your home using mini split systems, there are essentially two options. You can opt for a multi-zone system that will allow you to have several individual units in your home which are all linked to a single compressor, or you can invest in an individual mini-split system for each room that you want to heat or cool. The option that you choose will largely depend on your home’s design, as well as on your personal preference. Continue reading to learn more about multi-zone vs. multiple single-zone systems so that you can determine which option is best for you.

What Is a Multi-Zone Mini Split System?

A multi-zone mini split system consists of two or more indoor mini split units which are all connected to a single outdoor unit or compressor. Typically, a multi-zone mini-split condenser or compressor can be connected to a total of eight indoor units. The number of indoor units that you want to connect to a single compressor will largely depend on the number of zones in your home that you would like to heat or cool.

What Is a Single-Zone Mini Split System?

A single-zone mini split system consists of one outdoor unit for each indoor unit. When heating or cooling multiple zones in a home, an outdoor unit will need to be installed for each individual room.

Benefits of Zone Heating and Cooling

Both multi-zone and single-zone systems provide the option of zone heating and cooling. Zone temperature control refers to the capability of an HVAC unit to individually heat or cool an individual zone at a different temperature than other rooms in the house. In other words, you can individually adjust the temperature of one indoor mini split unit while the other units in your home operate at a different temperature.

If you’ve ever been in a house where an upstairs floor is much warmer than a lower floor, you can understand the benefit to being able to individually adjust the temperature of each room. Such a capability is not an option for central heating and cooling systems.

Benefits of a Multi-Zone Mini Split System

Installing a multi-zone mini split system in your home has numerous advantages. Here are some of the main benefits to consider:

  • Fewer outdoor units: perhaps the main benefit of a multi-zone system over several single-zone mini split systems is that there can be a single compressor for multiple units. Rather than installing an outdoor unit for every zone that you want to heat or cool, a single outdoor unit can be installed for up to eight indoor units.
  • Improved exterior home appearance: having numerous bulky outdoor compressors outside of one’s house can negatively impact your home’s exterior appearance. Fortunately, because multi-zone systems only require one outdoor unit for up to eight indoor units, the need for numerous outdoor units is eliminated, resulting in a more pleasing home exterior appearance.

Benefits of a Single-Zone Mini Split System

  • Easy installation: while all ductless mini split systems are relatively easy to install—especially in comparison to central HVAC systems—single-zone mini split systems are even easier to install than multi-zone systems. Single-zone systems only require a small 3-inch hole in the wall to connect the interior and exterior unit, while the process of running the refrigerant lines from the outdoor unit of a multi-zone system to the various indoor units is often more invasive.
  • Cost: because installing a single-zone mini split is less complicated than installing a multi-zone system, installation is typically less expensive. In some cases, homeowners can even install a mini-split system in their home all on their own.

Advantageous Applications for Multi-Zone Mini Split Systems

To determine if a multi-zone mini split system is right for your house, take a look at these ideal applications. If your situation falls under one of these scenarios, a multi-zone system is likely the best option for your home.

One instance when a multi-zone system is a highly advantageous option is when you need to heat or cool numerous rooms in a house. When you need to control the temperature of several different rooms, it is often more advantageous to opt for a multi-zone system rather than installing an entire indoor and outdoor unit for each room. In opting for a multi-zone, you can decrease the number of compressors located outside of your home, which will improve its exterior appearance.

Furthermore, a multi-zone unit may be more advantageous for homes with two or more levels. For multi-level homes, several individual splits would be needed to properly heat or cool the space. In such an instance, it would make the most sense to install a multi-zone system rather than numerous individual single-zone systems.

Advantageous Applications for Single-Zone Mini Split Systems

While there are many instances where a single-zone mini split system is the best option for a home, there are also a number of scenarios in which it may be more advantageous. 

For example, you may opt for a single-zone unit if your home already has a heating or cooling system in place and you are planning an addition to your home. In such an instance, a single-zone mini split can easily be installed in the new room without having to install new ductwork. Or, if your home’s existing temperature control system isn’t sufficient to properly heat all the rooms in your home, single-zone mini splits can be added to the rooms where additional heating and cooling is needed. 

Another instance when a homeowner may prefer to opt for a single-zone mini split system rather than a multi-zone system is if you have a small home and only one mini split is needed to heat or cool the majority of the space. In such instances, a multi-zone system is likely unnecessary.

If you are interested in installing multi-zone vs. single-zone mini-splits in your home, check out the extensive inventory at the Pioneer Mini Split Store. From ceiling cassette splits to wall-mounted systems, we offer a wide variety of different configurations. To learn more about our products, contact us today. Multi-Zone vs. Single-Zone Systems