Are you looking to install a thermal zone air conditioning system in your home or office but aren’t sure which manufacturer to go with? As thermal zone ACs grow in popularity for their ability to allow for different temperature control across different areas, more and more brands are releasing their own versions.
So who makes the best thermal zone air conditioners? What features should you look for when comparing different models? This complete guide will overview 6 top manufacturers of thermal zone ACs and what sets their products apart so you can make an informed purchasing decision.
What is a Thermal Zone Air Conditioner?
Before diving into specific brands, let’s quickly overview what exactly a thermal zone air conditioner is and what benefits it offers over a regular single-zone system.
A thermal zone AC system allows you to divide your space into different “zones” that can each be controlled by separate remotes and set to different temperatures. This is perfect for homes or offices where some rooms get more direct sunlight or have other temperature variances throughout the day.
While you can install multiple single-zone ACs to achieve something similar, a thermal zone system is much more energy efficient and cost effective since only zones actively in use will require cooling power. They also provide precise comfort control without creating hot or cold rooms from AC air blowing directly into them.
Key benefits include:
- Individual temperature control across different rooms
- Increased energy efficiency
- Lower noise levels from multiple compressors
- Precise comfort with no direct cold/hot airflow
- Flexible installation for both retrofits and new builds
Now let’s take a look at 6 of the top brands manufacturing thermal zone air conditioning units.
1. Mitsubishi Electric
As a leading producer of ductless and variable refrigerant flow (VRF) HVAC systems, Mitsubishi Electric offers some of the most efficient and advanced thermal zone air conditioners on the market. Their zoning systems use intelligent controls and INVERTER-driven compressors to provide precise temperature balance without wasting energy trying to cool unused spaces.
Mitsubishi zone ACs utilize the same quiet, slim-profile indoor units as their ductless systems allowing for flexible installation. They offer zone controllers capable of managing up to 8 different areas with options for humidity sensors, ventilation control, scheduling, and more. With advanced VRF technology and zoning capabilities combined into one system, Mitsubishi Electric sets the bar for maximum comfort and energy savings.
- Top-tier SEER ratings up to 26.7
- INVERTER-driven compressors
- Quiet operation down to 19 dB
- Zone controllers for up to 8 zones
- Humidity sensors and ventilation control
From their premium ductless systems to their advanced controls, Daikin is also at the forefront when it comes to thermal zone air conditioning technology. Their Variable Refrigerant Zoning (VRZ) systems allow you to manage temperatures in up to 8 zones with just one outdoor unit and features like the ability to control humidity levels in each zone.
Daikin zone ACs utilize intelligent sensor technology to pinpoint areas that require cooling and optimize operation for efficiency. And with sound levels as low as 19 dB, their indoor units deliver quiet, draft-free comfort to keep occupants happy in multi-room buildings.
Backed by over 90 years of HVAC innovation and quality manufacturing, Daikin VRZ systems provide some of the smartest zoning capabilities backed by excellent warranties.
- Up to 21 SEER efficiency
- Quiet operation down to 19 dB
- Controls humidity levels per zone
- Up to 8 zones on one condenser
- Advanced intelligent sensors
LG offers premium thermal zone air conditioning systems under their Multi V series product line. These VRF systems allow you to connect up to 128 indoor units to a single condenser all zoned independently with LG’s advanced controllers.
LG places an emphasis on ease of installation and maintenance with features like auto addressing of indoor units and built-in refrigerant leak checks. Their zoning systems also offer extensive sensor arrays to maintain comfort and air quality in spaces like hospitals, offices and assisted living facilities.
With some of the highest combined efficiency ratings and lowest sound levels, LG Multi V models provide leading thermal zone technology with renowned reliability. And robust mobile apps give you zones control from anywhere for the ultimate in smart HVAC.
- Industry-leading efficiencies over 28 SEER
- Ultra-quiet operation down to 21 dB
- Connect up to 128 zones
- Emphasis on installation and maintenance
- Advanced IAQ sensors
As a leading HVAC brand, Carrier also offers versatile and advanced thermal zone air conditioning systems across residential and commercial applications. Their Carrier Infinity zoning systems have an advantage when it comes to scalability with options to control 2 to 8 zones or up to 96 zones when paired with compatible VRF outdoor units.
Carrier combines industry-leading efficiency ratings up to 20.5 SEER withquiet operation down to 55 dB. Whether you need a cost-effective 2-zone system or a comprehensive building-wide VRF zoning solutions, Carrier has reliable and proven options.
Zoning systems can be easily controlled through wall-mounted LCD thermostats, wireless remotes or synced with their smart home app for control from anywhere. And all Carrier zone ACs are backed by exceptional warranties and their extensive network of dealers.
- Scalable 2-zone up to 96-zone capabilities
- Up to 20.5 SEER efficiency
- As low as 55 dB sound levels
- LCD thermostats and wireless remotes
- Part of Infinity series with advanced controls
While Lennox may not be the first brand that comes to mind for zoning HVAC systems, they offer some uniquely capable options worth considering. Lennox Trilogy systems allow you to operate one zone in AC mode while running another in heat pump mode – ideal for transitional weather or spaces with opposite exposure to elements.
They also offer commercial zoning systems with capabilities like indoor air quality monitoring and ventilation control per zone. And with ultra-quiet variable speed compressors and energy ratings over 20 SEER, Lennox zoning delivers efficiency along with unique comfort advantages.
Lennox systems also come with excellent oversight into zone operation and remote access through apps like iComfort S30. So if you have specific needs like simultaneous heating and cooling or want advanced IAQ oversight in a VRF-style system, Lennox zoning solutions deliver.
- Unique abilities like simultaneous hot/cold zones
- Commercial IAQ sensors and ventilation control
- Efficiency ratings over 20 SEER
- Ultra-quiet and precise variable capacity operation
- Advanced monitoring and control via iComfort app
Last but certainly not least in thermal zone air conditioning systems is Gree. While Gree may still be establishing brand recognition in the US HVAC market, they are the #1 air conditioning manufacturer worldwide with innovative technologies and proven quality.
Gree Flexx Zone 2.0 series systems allow for stepless capacity control across zones from 14% – 130% automatically optimizing cooling needs in realtime. This leads to some of the highest efficiency ratings up to 28.6 SEER translating to serious energy savings.
These systems also offer super quiet operation down to 20 dB in larger spaces where noise can be disruptive. And Gree utilizes intelligent defrost algorithms to eliminate unnecessary cycles for even great energy savings in cold climates.
With leading efficiency, near silent operation, and innovative zone optimization algorithms, Gree zoning represents quality and performance well above their budget-friendly price points.
- Industry leading efficiency over 28 SEER
- Ultra-quiet operation down to 20 dB
- Stepless zone capacity from 14% – 130%
- Advanced self-optimizing zone algorithms
- Intelligent hot gas defrost technology
What To Look For Comparing Zone ACs
Now that you know who the major players are when it comes to thermal zone air conditioning systems, let’s overview some key specifications and capabilities to compare across different models. The zoning system that’s best for you will depend on your budget, home or building setup, and priority on factors like efficiency vs noise levels.
One of the most important factors to consider for any AC, efficiency ratings indicate the SEER, EER and HSPF capabilities. The minimum ratings for any zone AC to qualify for tax credits or incentives is 17 SEER. But most leading brands offer ratings from 20 SEER to over 28 SEER for even better energy savings.
Operation volume is especially important for zoning ACs that may have multiple indoor units across living spaces, offices and more. While ratings down below 30 dB can be nearly inaudible, most quality zone systems operate between 19 dB on the low end up to 55 dB on louder budget models.
Compare capabilities like the number of zones that can be controlled, options for simultaneous heating and cooling as well as advanced features like ventilation and IAQ monitoring control per zone. Consider both your current needs and potential to expand zones in the future.
With advanced VRF technology and multi-component installations, longer warranties provide important peace of mind. Look for at least 5 years on the compressor and a minimum 1 year on parts and labor. Top manufacturers offer warranties up to 10-12 years.
Controls & Connectivity
Today’s best zoning systems offer advanced yet intuitive control interfaces along with options to monitor and adjust settings from anywhere. Compare zoning panels and thermostat capabilities along with remote access through apps and smart home ecosystem integration.
Especially for retrofit applications, the flexibility around installing refrigerant lines, zone controllers and indoor evaporator units is important in realizing your desired zoning configuration. Look for slim ductless indoor units with long line set capabilities for the most versatile zone AC system.
Thermal zone air conditioning represents the pinnacle of precise temperature and humidity control paired with energy efficient operation. And manufacturers like Mitsubishi Electric, Daikin, LG and more are driving incredible innovation when it comes to maximizing capabilities across multiple zones.
Hopefully this overview provides a solid basis for understanding the benefits of modern zoning systems along with who leads the way manufacturing the top models on the market. And what to look for when comparing specifications and components to decide on the best system for your residential or commercial space.
With summer heat right around the corner in most regions, now is the time to explore upgrading your existing HVAC system or replacing window rattlers with an advanced multi-zone configuration. This will ensure you can beat the heat all season long across every room and personalized comfort zone.