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Dual Zone Mini-Split Systems

Also known as 2 zone mini-splits, these ductless systems consist of one outdoor condenser or heat pump paired with two indoor air handlers. Two-zone mini-splits are perfect for a larger area or two individual rooms. Continue reading below to learn about the features that make 2-zone ductless ac units popular.
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What is a Two-Zone Mini-Split?

Dual-zone mini-splits fall under the umbrella of multi-zone systems, consisting of an outdoor unit or heat pump connected to multiple (in this case, two) indoor units or air handlers. (This differs from a single-zone system, which is a condenser connected to just one air handler.) Each air handler in a 2 zone system occupies a different area or “zone” within the same structure. Commonly, two zones represent two separate rooms of a house, but two zones could also serve a single, larger or unusually-shaped room.

Features and Benefits of Ductless Mini-Splits

Mini-splits have become popular for many reasons! They offer a host of benefits, including:

  1. Lower cost than modifying or replacing existing ducted equipment

  2. Straightforward installation (90% DIY if you are handy)

  3. Year-round energy efficiency (= lower energy bills)

  4. Whisper-quiet operation

  5. Independent climate control: set each zone or room independently, according to occupancy or personal preference

  6. WiFi connectivity and smartphone / smart home hub compatible

  7. Style choices for mini-split air handlers* (indoor units) to suit the look of your space and optimize comfort

*With five air handler types, you can select the perfect style for each zone or room in your dual zone HVAC system. To learn more about air handler options, read our post “A Quick Guide to Mini-Split Air Handlers.”

Common Uses for 2-Zone Mini-Splits

Larger Spaces

One of the most overlooked uses for two-zone mini-splits is large rooms (600+ square feet) and rooms that have an unusual shape. While manufacturers make single-zone mini-splits in sizes up to 60000 BTU to accommodate large spaces, we’ve found that those systems typically perform better in a commercial setting, such as a plant nursery. To better mix the air in a larger residential space, such as a great room or open-plan kitchen/dining/living room, we recommend two air handlers positioned on opposite sides of the space.

Odd-Shaped Spaces

While most rooms are rectangular, there are certain instances where an unusually-shaped area can compromise the airflow. Take, for example, an L-shaped garage or a primary bedroom with an adjacent reading nook or dressing area. When using a single-zone system, portions of the room furthest from the air handler or where the air must travel around a corner or through a narrower passage may not achieve or maintain the desired comfort level. A two-zone mini-split would ensure a more even distribution of air throughout the space.

L-shaped garage with two air handlers showing direction of air flow

Two Bedrooms

Studies show that a good night’s sleep is critical to our health and well-being. Perhaps this is why two-zone mini-splits are often destined for bedrooms. Find your perfect sleeping temperature regardless of the weather outside or the climate in the rest of your home. 

A Small Home

A 2-zone mini split would be a welcome addition to a small, 1-bedroom home of approximately 750 square feet or less. Add a year-round comfort solution to your urban apartment or rustic getaway cabin. Install a higher capacity air handler in the common living area(s) and a smaller unit in the bedroom.

enlightenedExpert Tip: Concealed Duct Air Handlers offer More Coverage

A concealed-duct indoor unit could be the perfect fit for your home by covering adjacent spaces that are cut off from airflow. For example, a one-bedroom, open-plan condo may be well-served by two classic wall-mounted units–one in the common area and one in the bedroom. However, a historic, one-bed bungalow of the same size might benefit from a classic wall mount in the shared space and a concealed duct unit serving the bedroom, enclosed kitchen, and bathroom. To find out which air handler style works best for you, see our quick guide or chat with one of our knowledgeable team members.

Mini-Split Sizing Guide

Key Terms: BTU and Ton

Mini-split air conditioners are rated in tons and measured in BTUs (British Thermal Units, a measurement of heat). In HVAC lingo, “tonnage” refers to the amount of heat (in BTUs) an AC system can remove from a given space in one hour. For example, a 1-ton mini-split will remove 12000 BTU of air per hour in cooling mode or add 12000 BTUs when heating the area. When shopping for a mini-split, you’ll see these terms used interchangeably. 

1.5 ton mini split = 18000 BTU

2 ton mini split = 24000 BTU

2.5 ton mini split = 30000 BTU

3 ton mini split = 36000 BTU

3.5 ton mini split = 42000 BTU

4 ton mini split = 48000 BTU

Step 1: Know Your Square Footage

Knowing your square footage is the first step in finding the right size mini-split. (In a rectangular room, multiply length x width to get square feet.) This information will give you a rough estimate of how many tons of cooling power (or how many BTUs) it will take to condition your space. 

If you plan to put the air handlers for your two-zone mini-split in two separate rooms, then you’ll need to consider the square footage of each room individually. If the two rooms differ significantly in size, you might need a different size (capacity) air handler to condition each space. The same consideration would apply if installing a 2-zone system in an irregular-shaped room, such as an L-shaped garage. In this scenario, the smaller, narrower wing may take a lower-capacity air handler, while the larger, wider section may require a larger unit. 

The combined square footage for both rooms will give you a sense of the total capacity needed for your two-zone system. The total capacity points to what size condenser you’ll need. If you’re heating and cooling two differently sized areas, you’ll want to look for two air handlers that meet the capacity requirements of each room.

Step 2: Consider Other Factors

Other important factors, such as ceiling height, number of windows, insulation level, and the climate in your region, should be considered when sizing your system. Our handy Ductless Mini-Split System Selector takes these factors and more into account. To ensure that your system is the right fit for your space, budget, and needs, we highly recommend confirming your selection with one of our HVAC experts. We want you to love your purchase!

Easy Installation

A ductless system is far easier to install than a traditional HVAC system. Many of our customers complete 90% of the installation themselves. For more information, see our article, “How to Install a Mini-Split in 4 Steps.” If installing a mini-split is not for you, we can help you find a licensed pro in your area.

Why Choose a Blueridge Mini-Split from Alpine?

Here at Alpine Home Air Products–America’s first online HVAC company–we’ve been making customers happy since 2002! We offer top-quality products at low prices with fast, free delivery. Our personalized customer service (with thousands of 5-star reviews and an A+ rating from the BBB) and unlimited technical support set us apart.

Blueridge ductless mini-splits–Alpine’s exclusive brand–are made to our specifications by the world’s largest, most reputable HVAC manufacturers and have the highest online product ratings of all mini-split brands. When you purchase a Blueridge mini-split from Alpine, you get:

Questions about finding a two zone mini-split that’s right for you? Our team is here to help. Call, email, or LiveChat with us today!