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ERV for NYC area?

Joanie21 | Posted in Energy Efficiency and Durability on

I was all set to get the UltimateAir  200DX erv but then saw the energy consumption. Yikes!
It’ll be a dedicated system in a 3000 sq ft house with mini splits & a robust air sealing/insulation package.
any advice? I’d like it to be variable because although ASHRAE say I need 130 I believe Joe and would like to be able to adjust downward to 60 when fewer people are in the house.

I def want recirculating defrost & boost mode. and am neutral about drip pan. Quiet would be nice. I’ll need 3 boosters for 3 full baths. (Kitchen will be vented range hood because we cook, advice about rangehoods with built in MUA appreciated. Is that a thing? 30” induction)
Fantech v Broan v Honeywell v Aprilaire

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  1. user-2310254 | | #1

    Are you still preparing to build? Have you looked at Zehnder?

    1. Joanie21 | | #2

      Yes. I looked at Zehnder. $10k! Seemed high.

  2. user-2310254 | | #3

    Yeah, Zehnder is the Cadillac. I've read good things about the Panasonic Intelli-Balance. Even if you had to install two, it would still be affordable.

    1. Joanie21 | | #9

      surely the analogy is Tesla now...not Cadillac ;)

  3. Trevor_Lambert | | #4

    According to UltimateAir, part of the reason for their higher watt/cfm spec is because they do the testing with a MERV12 filter, whereas most manufacturers use something much lower. I don't know if this latter part is true, but it makes sense that manufacturers would set up their machine to spit out the best numbers possible. Also keep in mind that if you look at SRE efficiency numbers, the power the fans use are accounted for. So if you compare two units that both have 75% SRE at similar air flows, it really doesn't matter if one has higher watts/cfm. As a general aside, be wary of any company that advertises efficiency based on ASE (apparent sensible effectiveness) instead of SRE (sensible recovery efficiency). It's a way of trying to make the unit look better than it actually is.

    "I def want recirculating defrost & boost mode. and am neutral about drip pan. Quiet would be nice."
    Any particular reason you're keen on recirculating defrost? In my opinion, this is another kind of trick used to game the results, making these units look more efficient at low temperatures than they really are by parasitically taking heat from the house while also delivering less fresh air. The stealing heat from the house may make sense, depending on how your house is heated and that fuel cost. But you have to weigh that out, and remember that if your ERV goes into a 1/3 recirculating mode, a 60CFM rate is now only delivering 40CFM of new air. If you could have the unit automatically bump up the rate to compensate for this, that would be good, but I don't think most units that operate this way are capable of doing that. When I really dug down into the details of the duty cycles of a particular unit and saw that there was a shockingly large range of temperature where the thing basically just shut off as far as bringing in outside air. If the primary purpose of the thing is to ventilate, seems to me it should be capable of doing it all the time.

    Surprisingly, a lot of units don't have a boost mode. I'm pretty sure the Panasonic Intelli-Balance is one that does not. I see it suggested as a good value quite often, but when I compared it to others of same capacity it didn't really look that great to me. Especially if you need >100CFM, there are options of single units that are WAY cheaper than two Intelli-Balance units, and getting two separate ERVs integrated into one system is not a trivial matter.

    For quietness, Zehnder is going to be one of the best. Most don't even spec noise levels, but they do. At a minimum, make sure the unit you get has ECM motors.

    "Fantech v Broan v Honeywell v Aprilaire
    Full disclosure, I am only a homeowner, I only have direct experience with the unit I got (Zehnder). I did spend a lot of time looking at different brands, features and specs.

    Fantech efficiencies are pretty low for most of their models. Features are pretty typical, two speed selections plus boost.
    Broan is re-badged vanEE, as is Venmar. Their high end line has impressive efficiencies, but the price of these starts to approach Zehnder and UltimateAir, and their feature set is lacking compared to those. (talking unit prices only, Zehnder's specialty parts are another matter - but also completely optional)
    Honeywell - I'd bet dollars to donuts these are re-badged as well, just based on my experience with Honeywell in general. I actually wonder whether they make anything at all.
    Aprilaire has no HVI listing, and their website has no information on their single model of ERV/HRV that I guess is supposed to be a universal fit for every home? Run far from this brand, IMO.

    1. GBA Editor
      Martin Holladay | | #6

      You wrote, "Honeywell - I'd bet dollars to donuts these are re-badged as well."

      You're right. Honeywell HRVs are simply Lifebreath HRVs with a Honeywell label.

      1. Trevor_Lambert | | #7

        I just realised that saying doesn't even make sense anymore. A donut is about a dollar these days, so it's an even bet.

        1. Aedi | | #10

          You'll have to switch to donut holes

  4. Joanie21 | | #5

    Thank you so much for the analysis. I was starting to realize the recirculate might not be as great as I thought. I also was bummed out that no other brand offered as high a merv rated filter as Ultimate air. Makes sense that would affect watts.
    What part of the country are you in? Do you have an actual PH or just a tight one? Mine won’t be passive. How does the Zehnder do for humidity in the summer?

    1. Trevor_Lambert | | #8

      I think you can get different MERV rated filters for most brands; if not most, then at least some.

      I am in Southern Ontario (zone 6 by the map, but zone 5 by the HDD formula), in an unofficial passive house. That is to say, we had a design that fulfilled the PHPP requirements, and followed it but didn't pay for any certification.

      I didn't get the HRV commissioned until the fall, so I can't comment on its summer performance. The fact that it's an HRV instead of an ERV would also make it irrelevant if you're looking specifically at ERVs. You can field swap the core on the Zehnder, which is one of the reasons we went with it. Once we get through a full set of seasons, we'll decide whether to get the ERV core and swap it out seasonally. So far, we have no reason to suspect that we need the ERV in the winter, which was our biggest concern.

    2. STEPHEN SHEEHY | | #11

      I use a merv 13 filter in my Zehnder HRV. I've had the unit for three years and it's been great. Not cheap, but well made, quiet. Zehnder does a nice job of designing your system If you send them your drawings.
      I'm in Maine, not a PH, but met the PH tightness standard.

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