New Green Building Products — March 2011
An HRV, a bath exhaust fan, a pressure-balancing grille, a sneaky video camera, and several new Passivhaus windows
It’s been about six months since my last roundup of new green building products. This time I’ll look at two ventilation products (an HRV(HRV). Balanced ventilation system in which most of the heat from outgoing exhaust air is transferred to incoming fresh air via an air-to-air heat exchanger; a similar device, an energy-recovery ventilator, also transfers water vapor. HRVs recover 50% to 80% of the heat in exhausted air. In hot climates, the function is reversed so that the cooler inside air reduces the temperature of the incoming hot air. and a fan), a pressure-balancing grille, and an inexpensive camera to inspect difficult-to-reach areas. I’ll also mention four new North American distributors of European PassivhausA residential building construction standard requiring very low levels of air leakage, very high levels of insulation, and windows with a very low U-factor. Developed in the early 1990s by Bo Adamson and Wolfgang Feist, the standard is now promoted by the Passivhaus Institut in Darmstadt, Germany. To meet the standard, a home must have an infiltration rate no greater than 0.60 AC/H @ 50 pascals, a maximum annual heating energy use of 15 kWh per square meter (4,755 Btu per square foot), a maximum annual cooling energy use of 15 kWh per square meter (1.39 kWh per square foot), and maximum source energy use for all purposes of 120 kWh per square meter (11.1 kWh per square foot). The standard recommends, but does not require, a maximum design heating load of 10 W per square meter and windows with a maximum U-factor of 0.14. The Passivhaus standard was developed for buildings in central and northern Europe; efforts are underway to clarify the best techniques to achieve the standard for buildings in hot climates.-certified windows.
A very efficient HRV
The first product, the Venmar Eko 1.5 heat-recovery ventilator, isn’t really new — in fact I mentioned it months ago in a previous blog (HRV or ERV?). But when I saw this very efficient HRV at a trade show recently, I decided it was worth highlighting.
The main virtue of the Eko 1.5 is the fact that it uses very little electricity. Powered by two electronically commutated motors (ECMs), it draws only 24 watts at low speed to deliver 49 cfm. According to the Home Ventilating Institute Product Directory, this HRV has a sensible heat-recovery efficiency ranging from 64% at -13°F to 75% at 32°F at 49 cfm.
The Venmar Eko 1.5 is also available with an ERV core. (However, it you’re looking for an efficient ERV rather than an HRV, you’ll probably choose the UltimateAir RecoupAerator 200DX, not the Venmar Eko 1.5).
Delta Products bath exhaust fan rivals the Panasonic
A Taiwanese manufacturer, Delta Products, is challenging Panasonic with its new line of energy-efficient bath exhaust fans.
There are several models of Delta Breez bath fans. The smallest model, Model VFB25AC, draws only 7.1 watts to move 80 cfm, and has a very low sone rating — only 0.3 sone. If the Delta Breez specs are to be believed, this model uses less energy than the Panasonic WhisperGreen FV-08VKS1, which draws 11.3 watts to move 80 cfm.
The Delta Breez VFB25AC is available for $85.80 from Energy Federation Incorporated. For $92.56, EFI also stocks a more powerful model (the Delta Breez VFB25AD) with the following specs: 110 cfm, 18.5 watts, 1.2 sone.
Tamarack “Perfect Balance” pressure relief grille
As typically installed, most forced-air systems include a supply register in each bedroom, but no return-air grille or other path to allow air to return to the furnace. Without a return-air path, bedrooms with closed doors can become pressurized. The result: room-to-room pressure imbalances, energy waste, and potential moisture problems in walls. (For more information on this issue, see Return-Air Problems.)
Until now, there were three possible solutions to this problem:
- Every bedroom gets a return air grille, ducted back to the furnace;
- A through-the-wall transfer grille is installed to connect the bedroom and the adjacent hallway; or
- A crossover duct (a jumper duct) is installed to connect a ceiling grille in the bedroom with a ceiling grille in the hallway.
Tamarack has come up with a fourth solution: a transfer grille designed for retrofitting into a bedroom door. Called the “Perfect Balance In-door air pressure relief system,” the grille is made of paintable ABS plastic.
To install the grille, you have to cut out a section of the bottom rail of the door. The grille is secured with screws. According to Tamarack, the grille provides up to 222 cfm of pressure relief at a pressure differential of 3 pascals.
The grille is available for $29 from Tamarack Technologies in Buzzards Bay, Mass. (800-222-5932).
A tiny video camera
Energy Federation Incorporated is selling a “video borescope” that includes a tiny video camera and an LED light source on the end of a 36-inch-long flexible shaft. The camera includes a 2.3-inch color video display and download capability. It requires 4 AA batteries.
Used to inspect HVAC system components or the interiors of walls or floor assemblies, the video borescope (EFI part #7000.521) is available for $188 from Energy Federation Incorporated of Westborough, Mass. (800-876-0660). The manufacturer of the product is VOscope of Wynnewood, Okla. (405-665-9000).
Four new sources for European Passivhaus windows
Readers of my Energy Nerd blogs may recall that I’ve been paying close attention to high-performance windows that have been certified by the Passivhaus Institut.
Recently I became aware of four new North American distributors of Passivhaus-certified windows from Europe:
- AlphaWin Windows from Holz & Form of Germany are being distributed by BuildingEvolution of Vancouver, B.C. (778-317-0035).
- Energate windows (manufactured in Speyer, Germany) are being distributed by H Window Co. of Ashland, Wisc. (800-843-4929).
- Intus Windows from Lithuania are being distributed by Intus Consulting of Washington, D.C. (888-380-9940).
- Schüco Windows are being distributed by European Architectural Supply of Lincoln, Mass. (781-647-4432).
To read my last product roundup, see New Green Building Products.
Last week’s blog: “Will Minisplits Replace Forced-Air Heating and Cooling Systems?”
- Delta Products
- Tamarack Technologies
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