Overwhelmed! Any help appreciated
Live in a coastal California city and have never needed A/C until the last few years, have finally decided I need it. Here's the dilemma: I live in a 2 story house a little over 3,000 square feet. Have a large furnace in the attic ( gas central air 13 yrs old and in good condition) but the downstairs is cold compared to the upstairs (I measured a 15 degree difference today 87 master bath to 72 downstairs).
Since it's so mild of a climate here I really don't need any heat upstairs-ever. If I could just heat the downstairs it would be fine. The opposite is true for A/C--I really never (ok maybe 5 days a year) need A/C downstairs--but since heat rises I really want A/C upstairs for the bedrooms to sleep.
So I thought of getting a zoned system (essentially first floor only for heat and second floor only for A/C) using my existing heater and adding central air. But I am so confused about that it seems there are pros and cons.
One person wants to 'dump' the excess air into an area above the staircase. Another says that's a bad idea and the excess air should go back into the system with a bypass duct. Frankly I don't know what the heck they are talking about!
Finally they all want to install different equipment. Bryant, Trane or Daikin. I've never heard of Daikin, is it any good? (I just read on wikipedia that Daikin bought Goodman which scares me).
If I had casement windows upstairs I'd probably just throw in some window bangers in the bedrooms and call it a day. But that is not an option. And no I don't want 2 separate furnaces and 2 A/Cs that is overkill in this mild climate. Winters are 60-70 daytime temperatures mostly and summers are mostly in the 70s so A/C is never needed during the day I just open a window. But nights can get a bit stuffy.
One company discouraged zoning saying just balance the ducts.
So, my questions are
1) Is zoning always a bad idea or do you think it could work in this case?
2) If I zone--how should they 'dump' the extra air?
3) I know the installation is the most important factor however are any of these brands significantly better than the others or are any to be avoided?