What Is Dual-Zone Climate Control?

What Is Dual-Zone Climate Control? Dual-zone climate control is a system that allows front-seat occupants of a vehicle to set their own preferred temperature for their “zone” or area in the front cabin. It’s a smarter, more personalized version of the basic automatic climate control systems that allow you to set a single temperature for the entire cabin.

These automatic systems use an array of sensors to monitor indoor and outdoor temperatures, humidity, and other factors such as air quality and sunlight, depending on how sophisticated the system is. The system computer then coordinates the HVAC and blower speeds to maintain the temperature you set without additional input from you. It controls air temperature and humidity through automated “mix doors” – dampers in the system behind the dashboard that balance air flow through the heating and cooling sections. The dual-zone system contains additional sensors specific to each zone of the vehicle’s cabin and more dampers to vary the temperature for each zone.

Smarter and less distracted

The electronically controlled system is noticeably more sophisticated than the manual heating and air conditioning that requires you to fiddle with the temperature and fan controls, as well as the cab vents, to keep the cabin comfortable while driving. Manual climate control systems are now standard on even the cheapest new cars, in part because – in the quest for higher mileage ratings – the better aerodynamics of closed windows trump any load from the climate control system.

But “set and forget” automatic climate control systems, including fancier dual-zone systems, were transitioning to cheaper cars as standard or optional equipment; Their promise is more comfort and less driver distraction. To get automatic climate control by zones, you often have to choose an optional package or a higher trim level. Also, adding complexity and more parts to the system can increase future repair costs.

Why stop at two zones? How about three or four?

Automatic climate control systems are deployed with additional zones behind the front row – mainly with larger vehicles, such as SUVs, vans and luxury cars. These three- or four-zone systems add separate controls, often in the rear of the center console, and additional vents on the console, in the B-pillar between the front and rear doors, in the roof and elsewhere. They provide a separate microclimate for the second or third row in the three-zone systems, which are usually found in SUVs or vans; For the four-zone systems often offered in high-end vehicles, there is a separate area for each side of the rear seat.

Some systems, such as those found in some Lexus vehicles, combine automatic multi-zone climate control with additional automatic control of heated, ventilated seats and a heated steering wheel; It also includes an air purifier. These systems add sensors in the seats and even infrared sensors to monitor the surface temperature of passengers.

Is bi-zone climate control (or more) worth it?

Some people do not use automatic climate control even if they have and prefer to control the climate control system manually. A choice of two or more zones will not change that.

But if it’s not you, the value depends on your expectations. There’s only so much climate difference that a zoning system can make in an open 100-cubic-foot box, whether it is or not. Even lower in, for example, . The regions will merge with ambient temperature, usually with a few degrees difference between the regions. And, as with most features, some vehicles do this better than others.

However, in most multi-zone systems, there is a noticeable temperature difference in the air as it exits the vents toward the passenger. This alone can be the impetus for a relationship on a long journey with a partner who has completely different comfort preferences; Ditto for the kids in the back. My personal experience is that zone controls are also very useful in a drive where one person is in direct sunlight and the other in the shade. And if the car also has heated and ventilated seats, it can help widen the difference in comfort between zones.

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