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High-Quality Budget-Friendly Ventilation System

mikeysp | Posted in General Questions on

zone 4a. Pretty good 2 bedroom, 900 sq ft. house, ductless mini split.

I am looking for a budget friendly ventilation solution, that is cheap to maintain, and either has, or I can add a MERV13 filtration on incoming air to keep out mold spores and pollen.

I need 30-50 cfm.

I had my eyes on the Panasonic Whispercomfort @ $449, however, I have not been able to find much info from the manuals, online searches, and panasonic doesn’t seem to answer email inquiries.

I don’t know if the membrane is a lifelong part, as I cannot find replacements or how often they need replacing.

The filter does not look like a merv 13, and I wandered if I filter box with a merv13 would diminish the cfm of the unit.

Perhaps I should just have a motorized duct damper and an inline fan through a MERV13 box?

Whatever solution I go with, I am trying to:

1. Be budget friendly long term. Some products are cheap up front but cost you in reliability or regular maintenance expendables.

2. Easy to maintain. I have heard of people letting their systems clog up. I wonder if the difficulty of a process deters people from keeping up on it.

Thank you for your advice.


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  1. mikeysp | | #1

    BTW, even a supply company with knowledgeable staff that I can call would be great. I tried supply house chat but they did not have any techs on staff.

  2. Expert Member
    Akos | | #2

    I've used that ERV and the blower on it is pretty weak. You can put an in-line filter on but there is a good chance of unbalancing the unit. Their full sized IB100 is a much better unit and generally the best value out there for the performance.

    If that is not in budget, I would search for a cheaper ERV with ECM blowers and install external filtering on it.

    At least for ragweed, MERV 13 is not enough, I needed to add a HEPA filter as well. I use the MERV 13 filter box as the intake filter and the HEPA on the outlet. Having a decent filter before the unit also keeps the core pretty clean and you don't have to deal with the expensive OEM filters.

    ERV cores can become contaminated over time, the issue is mostly things like oil aerosols, you want the kitchen pickup to be far from your stove. In some climates mold can also grow on the core. I have pretty hot and muggy summers here and haven't seen any mold on my core but I do run it 24/7 and keep the house humidity low in the summer time.

  3. mikeysp | | #3

    Ok, the Intelli-balance 100 sounds like it might be a better option; and I can place a MERV 13 filter box on the intake prior so I don't have to pay $43 per MERV13 filter from Panasonic. I love the option to balance out the pressure.

    I did not know any pollen could get through MERV 13, so I will have to look into the Ragweed situation here as I am ignorant.

    Should I get the cold weather model: FV-10VEC2 that is good to -22F for only $50 extra. I live in Nashville area (4a). While rare, we do get sub xero F weather sometimes, and into the teens every year for several days. Not sure if there is any detriment to getting a cold capable model unless it has a con with the pro.

    1. Expert Member
      Akos | | #4

      The difference between the cold climate unit is that it has damper for defrost. You will never get to low enough temperatures, I'm in much colder climate and my ERV defrost runs at most a couple of times per year. I would save the $50.

      My Merv13 filter is before the ERV and works well. It needs to be insulated, if you are using something like the Fantech FB6, wrap it in about 3/4" of foil faced polyiso. Put the seams in such a way that it is still easy to open the front panel to change the filter. The filters for this are a fraction of the cost of the OEM filters.

      Speaking of changing the filters, make sure you set this up in a way that it is very easy to change filters. I initially had mine buried and ended up moving it as it got too annoying to change filters (by this I mean I left it running with dirty filters for WAY too long).

      The problem with filter is the testing protocol. Filters get more efficient with buildup, an almost clogged filter does a much better job filtering than a brand new one, so a Merv13 on average does an ok job of removing pollen but doesn't do much near beginning of life.

  4. DennisWood | | #5

    I'd take a look at this as it has ECM motors with independent speed controls, is very simple, and has a large core (much larger than the Panasonic) that at 50 CFM will be at 88% efficiency. It will never need to defrost unless you see temps sustained below 0 F. It does need more space though due to the ERV core which is 10.5 on the faces, and 22" deep...that core size is why it so efficient.

    They also spec co2 controls etc for it so you can have it turn on/off with occupancy. With max cfm of 280, there is plenty of headroom for boost mode in case you have a return in your bath.

    If you install a filter box on the "warm side" of supply, you don' t need to insulate it. I'm using this and would recommend it :

  5. mikeysp | | #6

    What do you folks think of the Broan Ai Series ERV?

    I found one for a song locally; and, it has a good size core, plus an automatic adjustable motors to keep static pressure equalized. Unless you have some grave reservations, I want to get it because of the deal.

    I will probably spring for the Fantech FB6 inline filter housing that Akos mentioned above for a cheaper merv13 prefilter. The FB6 is just over a $100. I will check it out first to see if access panel is easy peasy for access on it. I will build an insulated cabinet for it, so I can just open the door, and then open the FB6 and replace the filter. Since this is a shop/house, I am going to run exposed ductwork. Sort of a steam punk look and easy to deal with.

  6. DennisWood | | #7

    The unit has a pretty simple commissioning routine, but the efficiency numbers are not as good as the Renewaire. That said, it likely won't make much of a difference in your climate zone. If the price is great, I'd just get it. Broan is working on a line of controls to integrate with their AI line so you can add c02 monitoring etc. as well. That unit has EC motors x 2 so will be low cost to operate at 50 cfm.

    You can look them up here:

  7. Deleted | | #8


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