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Community and Q&A

Choosing an HRV

Robegul | Posted in General Questions on

I live in Colorado (Zone 5B) and have an Ultimate Air ERV which has finally died.  I think I can get by with an HRV as a replacement as my furnace-based humidifier is fairly powerful, and I prefer the simplicity of an HRV.

I want a reliable brand that is moderately efficient, but most importantly reliable, and has parts and service available.  The Ultimate Air was nice, but I had some issues a long time ago and it was a royal pain to get any help – they were just too small a company.

I have been looking at Broan/Venmar.  Zehnder seems very expensive, and one or two of the other brands I found are based in Canada and I cannot find any US service agents.

Is Broan/Venmar decent?  Other suggestions?  Since all my ductwork is in place (distribution and return ducts), I think I should be able to buy an HRV on-line and replace it with a bit of help from a handy person (my lifting days are over…).  I need about 150 cfm max flow, 50 – 60 continuous.

Thoughts appreciated!

Thanks all,


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  1. user-2310254 | | #1

    Would you be open to installing an ERV? The Panasonic Intelli-Balance 100 and 200 get consistently good reviews. See for more info.

    1. Robegul | | #2

      Thanks Steve - I will take a look. Looks like the 200 model might be what is closest to my needs.
      I have had good experience with Panasonic products before, and I am open to an ERV. It's just that ERV cores tend to be a bit harder to maintain - cannot wash them etc. Where do you see reviews on ERV/HRVs - have not ben able to find any. Thx

  2. user-2310254 | | #3

    Yeah, finding credible reviews is challenging. Here's a discussion thread that might be helpful, however:

  3. Robegul | | #4

    Thanks for that great thread,

    I am actually back to looking at ERVs... The company that sold me the Ultimate Air 10 or so years ago suggested I seriously consider them as the air is so dry in Colorado. We do have a pretty good furnace-installed humidifier, but don't really know for sure it can keep up with an HRV dumping humidity...

    In looking at the Panasonics, the 200 model is about twice the price of the Broan B160E75RS (ERV). It does have better energy specs. The Panasonic 100 is about the same price and energy specs as the Broan, but then a bit lower airflow. (100 versus 133)

    Both the Panasonic and the Broan have self-balancing, which to me is key since I don't want to hire a professional HVAC installer to save money. Since I have all the ductwork in place (6" split into three distribution ducts, and three returns going into the one 6"), all that is in place already. It's "just" a swap out.

    I am going to look up the MERV 13 filter sizes and specs to compare the two.

    Sizing recommendations seem to be all over the map - from a 75 cfm recommendation on the Broan site, to 130 cfm per the latest ASHRAE.

    Thanks again,

  4. user-2310254 | | #5

    Here is article on ventilation rates that might be helpful:

    Consider installing an ERV that has more capacity than you are likely to need. That way you can commission it and then begin monitoring indoor conditions. If CO2 is staying too high, you can then increase the flow rate or run times until conditions improve.

  5. Robegul | | #6

    Thanks Steve,

    It won't let me read the article - says I need GBA Prime membership which is what I think I signed up for. I have had some issues with the website.

    Per old ASHRAE calculations, my home needs 63 cfm, per new one, 129 cfm. My house is 3,300 sq ft., 3 bdr. Very well sealed. I think the last door test I got it was around 0.27, and I did a bit more sealing since then. My wife has lots of allergies so we have mostly wood floors, all gas appliances have power ventilation of exhaust fumes, 100% electric stove, etc. Just the two of us.

    My Ultimate Air ERV was rated at 200 cfm, but we normally ran it at about 60, occasional blasting to about 3/4 way to high to clear out the house. 60 seemed great most of the time (too good when a skunk occasionally let loose outside! We used to almost dive for the ERV shutoff.)

    So I figure somewhere around 130 - 150 should be adequate - would run at less than 1/2 power most of the time. Perhaps I could go lower?? Th Broan website seems to suggest 75 - 90 cfm.

    Thoughts welcome though!

  6. user-2310254 | | #7

    Optimal ventilation rate seems to be a moving target. The way I read things (and I'm not an expert) is that many tight homes are not adequately ventilated even when they meet ASHRAE targets.

    One option is to buy an AWAIR or similar device and start recording data.

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