In the Zone: Two Hydronic Heating Specialists Find Efficiencies in Operations
Designed by Pros and for Pros, Zone Panels Offer Faster Install and Diagnostic Times
When it comes to running an HVAC business, being efficient is critical. Whether it’s time spent on the jobsite, packing the truck or traveling from home to home, every minute counts – especially for companies that service expansive territories or large rural areas.
Resideo's Honeywell Home zone panels were designed with time-saving in mind. In fact, our trusted hydronic pros helped us design these intuitive, streamlined panels to dramatically reduce set-up, wiring and diagnostic times for technicians, with unique features such as:
- - A self-balancing hang hole
- - Visible LED interface
- - Color-coded wire labeling
- - Dual-fuse protection
- - Compatibility with both connected and non-connected thermostats, including power-stealing options
At Resideo, the voice of our contractor partners is important, and we're constantly conversing with our pros to ensure our solutions meet expectations. We recently spoke with two hydronic heating experts to find out how they've incorporated zone panels into their clients’ homes. Their main takeaways? The panels offer unmatched installation efficiency and operational ease.
Rocky Mountain Comfort
In mountainous regions such as the Colorado Rockies, hydronic heating is the go-to choice. Andy Zuber is the owner-operator of Ridgeline Mechanical in Summit County, Colorado, which includes Breckenridge and other popular ski-resort towns. Most of his deluxe-home clients use hydronic heating because forced-air systems would require extensive ductwork and multiple mechanical rooms to heat the thinner mountain air and cover the sprawling layouts. “Plus,” said Andy, “It’s a comfort thing. Hydronic in-floor heat is more comfortable for them. It’s a high-level heating design for these upscale homes.”
Andy and his team of five employees perform a lot of hydronic retrofits and he appreciates how Honeywell Home zone panels simplify installation and troubleshooting. “I just put in two of the panels yesterday,” he said. “The home didn't have a zone control panel in play, so they had the wiring just wired ‘piggyback’ to all the zone valves…and this was a seven-zone house! The wiring was a spaghetti mess everywhere. The Honeywell Home panel really neatens up the mechanical room: it's wires into the box, wires out of the box. Now it’s easy to walk into the room, check the display and see which zones are calling for heat. Also, if you have a connected thermostat, it just simplifies the wiring for the technicians.”
“For me personally, it allows me to cut the low-voltage wiring time in half*…and every hour counts, right
The intuitive LED display and other streamlined features come in handy, especially for some of Andy's less experienced installers. “My new apprentice has already started wiring zone panels,” he said. “The color-coded wire labeling is great, and the extra spot for the power going to a connected thermostat saves a lot of time when you're direct-wiring a thermostat into those panels. For me personally, it allows me to cut the low-voltage wiring time in half.* And when I'm running close to 80 hours every week, every hour counts, right?”
Andy continued, “If you're sending someone in who has a high learning curve, you usually have to explain the 24-volt circuit, and how to get power to all your zone valves through the thermostats. But this makes installation very plug-and-play: you open the front panel, and the thermostats come in on the top, your zone control valves go in on the bottom. And they're color coded, so it matches up to the Honeywell Home zone valve wiring colors.”
Andy also values the panel’s dual fuse protection. “I've blown my share of fuses out of these panels, because if you're dealing with a retrofit, a lot of times you'll have old, brittle wires. So with the fuses built right in, they're easy to change. I have yet to short out a panel no matter what I do with the wiring.”
Andy trusts the integrated Honeywell Home platform of zone panels and WiFi thermostats to deliver reliable performance and comfort. He also adds our Water Leak and Freeze Detector for extra peace of mind for homeowners since many of the winter vacation homes he services sit vacant much of the time. "By using connected thermostats like the T6 Pro and the leak detectors, it allows the homeowner or their property manager to monitor things from a distance. We've already seen it save a lot of issues with freeze-ups and leaks.”
“I've been working with the Honeywell Home branded products forever, so we've always been recommending Honeywell Home products. We stick with the Honeywell Home platform – we won't even install a customer-provided, competitive brand. We just won't.”
Multi-Generational Business Sees New Efficiencies
Following in the footsteps of his father and grandfather, Jeff Whitney started J.R. Whitney Plumbing to service the Colorado Springs, Colorado area in 2005. “They taught me a lot about steam and the old school, natural draft boilers,” Jeff said. “Of course, I ventured off into the new stuff – the high-efficiency boilers. I’m doing nothing but hydronics now, including a lot of retrofits and upgrades, where I can explain to homeowners their return on investment (through energy savings, or reduced utility bills and fuel consumption),” he said.
As with Andy, the homeowners Jeff serves enjoy being able to control the temperature at a distance – and the energy savings it provides. “When you upgrade from single speed pumps to ECM pumps, or from zone pump systems to a single pump system, or from natural draft to high efficiency boilers with a WiFi thermostat… all of that equals energy savings, with reduced utility bills or fuel consumption.”
“The zone panels are great. They're simple to install, reliable, and they give you that common connection, so they power all the thermostats as well. The system gives my clients peace of mind.”
Honeywell Home zone panels – including the 4-zone HPZC104 and 6-zone HPZC106– with connected thermostats help Jeff put it all together. “The zone panels are great,” he said. “They're simple to install, reliable, and they give you that common connection, so they power all the thermostats as well. The system gives my clients peace of mind, knowing that their house isn’t going to freeze up while they’re on vacation in Mexico or wherever they are. They can monitor the temperature and set alerts on their wireless thermostats so if the temperature drops below a certain point, they know there's a problem and they need to call me.”
Jeff had been using a competitive control panel, but started using Honeywell Home panels when they came on the market, and has never looked back. “I was already using Honeywell Home air separators, expansion tanks and zone valves. I mean, I've been using the branded products as long as I've been doing this. So, I might as well keep it all Honeywell Home if I can.”
“The color coded labeling works great. I already know where to make all the connections but for somebody that doesn't do this on a daily basis, the color coding is nice, especially when connecting the Honeywell Home zone valves. It's kind of a no brainer. The RWC for the thermostat…the wiring diagram…I mean it all makes for a quick, easy installation. I never say that hydronics is simple, but Resideo definitely helped make it simpler.”
And that simplicity, Jeff said, can cut diagnostic time by 90%.* “I label all the zones so when they do call me with an issue, I can ask them a series of questions and usually pinpoint the problem before I even get to the job. They can help me troubleshoot it, so I know what to bring if there is a problem or maybe even walk them through a solution over the phone. The zone panel is my eyes and ears in terms of what the system is doing.”
When it comes to system control, Jeff recommends using Honeywell Home thermostats. “Some people want simpler options but more people want smart homes. They want to be able to control their home from their phone. I've used some of the other manufacturers' products, and they don't work with hydronic heating. I mean, it's a fight all the way. So it's easy to sell Honeywell Home products when it comes to hydronics because they work flawlessly with the system.”
Get in-depth details through our webinars and website
Want to learn more about the benefits of Resideo's hydronic solutions? Get specific details and more information on Resideo's zone panels by viewing recent contractor webinars or exploring our full product lineup.
*Claim is based on one contractor’s experience in one specific situation; not verified by independent studies. Zone panel installation and diagnostic times can vary based on each project’s requirements and on the skills and experience levels of each technician.