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Community and Q&A

Panasonic Intelli-Balance 100 ERV With New Boost Function

Tom S | Posted in General Questions on

A lot of people know about the first generation FV-10VE1 Panasonic Intelli-Balance 100 ERV, as promoted by Matt Risinger. Like myself, many were disappointed to learn that this otherwise excellent unit with great performance specs had no boost function available (to allow the use of an external switch to boost fans to 100%).

Well, they listened.. and released the FV-10VE2 revision with remote boost!

I just bought 2 of these for my upcoming build and the quality & price point are amazing. I’m in CZ 5, so I went with the VEC2 model (cold climate) which will operate down to -22°F. I was happy to find that the motorized dampers are also insulated & sealed nicely, unlike the motorized dampers I’d been looking at on Amazon.

Given the ECM motors I expected efficiency. I hooked up a meter and it draws 17w when set to the lowest speed setting of 50CFM! This will of course be higher installed with duct, but still very impressive. It’s also VERY quiet.
I’m using the TP Link Kasa WiFi outlets and light switches in my build, so I’m planning to mount a switch in the bathroom connected to the boost input, or maybe a 3-way switch and place the second switch in kitchen. This will also allow me to turn on/off the boost function via voice command to my phone from anywhere.

This post may sound a bit like an ad, but I’m so happy with these and to end my ERV search and wanted to share this here for those who are on the hunt.

https://na.panasonic.com/us/home-and-building-solutions/ventilation-indoor-air-quality/energy-recovery-ventilators/intelli-balancetm-100-balanced-air-50-100cfm

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Replies

  1. Expert Member
    Malcolm Taylor | | #1

    nms43,

    All good to know. Thanks.

  2. Trevor Lambert | | #2

    Zehnder now has line with automatic balancing, the Comfoair Q.

    The Panasonic Intellibalance still has one fatal shortcoming, which is that it's undersized for anything other than a 1 bedroom apartment.

    1. Tom S | | #3

      How many CFM are you looking for in an ERV? These are 50-100CFM.
      ASHRAE 62.2 calls for 82.5CFM for 3 bedrooms and 2000sf.

      I plan to use mine on the lowest setting, running constant and silently.
      Most people are using these in homes, not 1 bedroom apartments. They're priced well enough that it was an easy choice to use a separate one for each floor and have independent control. There's no denying how good the Zehnder units are though. I just have to balance my construction budget.

      1. Erik_Brewster | | #4

        I have a Broan HRV90 and it isn't enough for me on high in a 1050 ft3 house with two adults and two small kids. "Healthy Building: How Indoor Spaces Drive Performance and Productivity" recommends 40 CFM / person. That seems more in line with my experience. I've been monitoring CO2 in my home and I can absolutely can feel the different between 500, 1000, 1500 PPM. Following ASHRAE likely will result in you in the 1500 PPM range. 1500 PPM won't kill you, but why live like that if you are doing and HRV/ERV install and are aware of the issue?

        1. Tom S | | #7

          Hard to place that in context without the specifics of your air distribution. I know the HRV90 has 4" ports on it. Hopefully you're running larger ducts than this?

          Your mileage with any unit really depends on your ductwork. Smaller size ducts, longer runs, flex duct vs rigid, and number of elbows will bring a big performance hit.

          1. Erik_Brewster | | #10

            Good point. I just did a garbage bag flow test and I'm getting 55 CFM on high. I've got some long ducts and external filters. I've got a pretty long 4" intake duct in rigid and double 4" fresh to bedroom ducts. Only a few feet of flex to make things line up easily. I consider 55 CFM not too bad, considering the install, but likely will try to double that with a new unit, bigger ducts in the future.

          2. Tom S | | #15

            Ahh yes, the devil is in the details! Wise move testing that.

            Filters can be problematic. I'll be looking to implement something with a large surface area to minimize the CFM penalty, and steering clear of any ducting under 6".

            I would plan to upgrade your ducting first. You may be surprised to find your existing unit sufficient once you do.

        2. Tim Kin | | #28

          Erik, can you advise on a CO2 meter to get? I am in the process of getting a new ERV after my Ultimate Air kicked the bucket, but it might take a while, and I want to start monitoring CO2 in a meantime.

      2. Trevor Lambert | | #13

        Based on my in home testing with CO2 monitors, 100cfm would be enough for two adults and two children. But just barely, and in order for the boost to be of any functional value, it should be at least 50% higher than the standard setting. Double would be better. I too used the ASHRAE numbers as a guideline, and even though I built in a lot of headroom, it's less than ideal. My system maxes out at around 180CFM, due to the ducting rather than the HRV. When we have company over for longer than a couple of hours, it's difficult to keep the CO2 in check.

    2. CarsonB | | #21

      Trevor, what about adding a $400 panasonic spot ERV? Together it would be 140 CFM and about $1400, so still a lot cheaper than a Zhender.

  3. CarsonB | | #5

    how loud is it on high? I'm planning on doing a DIY install in a bedroom closet, but may need near the top of the output for a 2100 sqft 3 bedroom house.

    1. Tom S | | #6

      It's a quiet running unit, but 2 fans running on high is more than I'd want to have in a bedroom closet. I'm doing one in the laundry room and one in a closet by the door.

      If your ducts are at least 6" and your runs efficiently laid out I doubt you'll need 100CFM. Ducting makes a BIG difference in how hard you need to push your ERV.

      1. CarsonB | | #9

        I'm planning on oversizing the ducts, but according to ASHRAE I'll need roughly 90 cfm to meet the standard. If I understand correctly, the rated 100 cfm is a measure of the fans running unobstructed by static pressure so even with large ducts I would need to run them near high. Unfortunately I don't have much room for mechanicals in my house. The other option would be to put it in a crawlspace, but many seem to advise against putting ducts/units in crawlspaces here on GBA.

        1. qofmiwok | | #12

          Depends what kind of crawlspace. No problem in a conditioned crawl.

        2. Tom S | | #16

          How many floors will the unit be servicing?

          The product sheet for it specs at as "ideal for single family homes under 3000', up to 7 bedrooms"

          If your ducting is efficient personally I'd go for it. There are also options for noise reduction in the closet. Depends how much free space you have in there. Rockwool for absorption, and optionally mass (MDF or drywall) for isolation via a hinged enclosure operating as a muffler box. I'd just get it running and then gauge my next moves based on how much noise there is.

          1. CarsonB | | #18

            2 floors, 3 bedroom, 2100 sqft. Saying it's ideal for a 7 bedroom 3000 sqft house seems a bit of a stretch, at least given ASHRAE. Granted, that standard changed a few years ago and may be a bit arbitrary.

            The crawlspace is enclosed, and insulated at the perimiter, but not fully conditioned. The only interior warm air it will be getting is that pulled in by the fan, I'm using the exhaust fan from a hpwh in the crawlspace as forced exhaust for the crawlspace.

  4. Expert Member
    Rick Evans | | #8

    Tom, I posted a similar post a few months ago. I too am really excited about this. I haven't got my hands on one yet but your initial observations are extremely promising. 17watts for 50cfm, that is just amazing.

  5. qofmiwok | | #11

    You say it's very inexpensive. How does this compare to a similar sized Zehnder?
    I am still trying to figure out how much to ventilate what will be a very tight house. We will be 2 people in 3900 sf / 3 BR so the Ashrae 2003 was 69 cfm, Ashrae 2013 is 147, Lstiburek formula is 69, ICC 2021 is 48, and Passivehouse is 184. 48-184 is a pretty big range! We're an extremely dry climate also.

    1. Trevor Lambert | | #14

      Put in the biggest system you can afford. You can always run it at lower speed.

      For pricing, the best thing to do is get quotes. Remember that you don't need the special duct that Zehnder sells, nor add-ons like silencers. That's a big part of the price difference.

    2. Tom S | | #17

      Yes, everyone's got a different idea on how much ventilation you need. And the impact of ducting makes it that much more of a guessing game for DIY installs.

      These sell for $940USD. The 118CFM Zehnder unit I was looking at (Zehnder ComfoAir 200) lists at $2850, so for me it was an easy choice grabbing one for each floor.

    3. CarsonB | | #20

      I dismissed Zehnder based on price. A lot of articles on here have 10k+ zehnder installs without batting an eye, and that's just not for mere mortals. According to (https://www.greenbuildingadvisor.com/question/erv-selection) the Zehnder would start at $2200 for materials, but then be $2800 for balancing units and >$4k to use Zehnder hardware to go with it.
      I'm looking at the most reasonable thing I can mostly DIY myself, and the self-balancing panasonic seemed like an easy choice based on efficiency, cost, ease of install, and reliability. I also struggle with which CFM numbers to consider. There is some comfort though that I can always install a $400 panasonic spot ERV down the line to boost the CFM if needed, or perhaps a pair of lunos. It's also hard to get out of the mindset that I've never even been in a house with continuous ventilation, so I'm already starting well ahead with 100 cfm.

      1. Trevor Lambert | | #25

        The spot ERV you mention is 40cfm exhaust, but only 30CFM supply. So it's 30CFM useable. Not sure how you'd configure it to boost the main unit, either. If you've got two floors, you're much better off getting one 100cfm intellibalance for each floor.

  6. Tom S | | #19

    Trevor's mention of using a CO2 monitor is an excellent idea to get a clear picture of system performance. I'll definitely be doing that after I'm moved in and adjust accordingly.

    My understanding is that these units would deliver closer to the rated CFM vs a unit which has no automatic compensation for static pressure. From the product sheet:

    Ideal for: Single Family Homes (3,000 sq. ft., up to 7 bedrooms) / Condominiums /
    Apartments / Housing Authority Properties / Hotels / Studio apartments.

    Intelli-Balance 100 uses two ECM brushless motors with built-in SmartFlow™
    technology for precision ventilation. When the ERV senses static pressure, its
    speed is automatically increased to ensure optimal CFM output; regardless of a
    complicated duct run. This feature provides peace of mind, as the installer doesn’t
    have to worry about compromising the ERV’s performance.

  7. CarsonB | | #22

    Does anyone have opinions on Broans new AI series? I see they have a 150 CFM self-balancing unit with ECM motor, built in air quality monitoring, remote control, works down to -25C, for ~$1000. That checks all the same boxes as the panasonic, although it doesn't explicitly list a "boost" function which is required by code in my area. Perhaps the remote control would suffice. If I follow the brochure it's only up to 80% efficient, but I may not understand the ratings correctly.

    https://www.lightingsupply.com/broan-nutone-b150e75ns.aspx

    1. Tom S | | #23

      SRE on that Broan is 75% vs 81% of the Panasonic (but still quite good).

      Edit> I see they have the Turbo mode. I like their controls. The simple one would be good for bathroom use. The price/value ratio is generally good on Broan/Venmar stuff.

      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Aho7cxmbtPA

      1. CarsonB | | #24

        The controls are listed here: https://www.broan-nutone.com/en-us/accessory/vttouchw
        it looks like it has a "turbo" mode, which initiates max rate for 4 hours. Hard to believe they would object to that. There is also a controller with a humidity monitor that kicks in at set humidity levels, I would have to talk to the code official for that. The concerns I have with it are: no reviews, slightly lower efficiency, unknown noise levels. A 6% drop in efficiency may not really be worth worrying about though. I will say that the digital controller looks really nice. No clue how the automatic air quality monitoring actually does, but seems like a step in the right direction. There's another possible benefit- I assume their controller will warn people when filters need changing. That's probably a big deal if people buy the house after me.

      2. Trevor Lambert | | #26

        If you look closer, the 75% SRE is for the HRV version only. For the ERV version, it's "TBD". It's likely to be 4-8% lower. The max CFM is also 140, not 150, again for the HRV. The ERV may be less (again, "TBD").

        1. CarsonB | | #27

          Thanks Trevor. So it’s likely 10% less efficient but 40% higher cfm. No clue how to make that determination, but I’m guessing 2 panasonics are not worth twice the price and space. I don’t have a large home.

    2. Tim Kin | | #30

      Carson, which remote control are you referring to? I've been looking for a solution to boost air in the bathroom or kitchen but none of the units that are currently on the market have a simple solution for this. Broan AI does have one wall unit (deluxe 20-40-60) that is wireless and is battery-operated but you would still need to buy their Advanced touchscreen control unit (VTTOUCHW) in order for it to operate. Is that the combo you're referring to?

      1. CarsonB | | #31

        Tim, yes I think so, among other controllers they have. I think that the control unit may be a requirement to use any controls with the system, though I'm not 100% sure, you may be able to hardwire the boost function as well. The controller is $130 according to a google. The way I see it, that may be less money than hiring an electrician to hardwire a booster for a unit anyway.

        1. Tim Kin | | #32

          Thanks, Carson. Unfortunately in my case, this is not a new construction but an ERV replacement. So hardwiring becomes a considerable undertaking, especially for a second-floor bathroom. But either way, looks like Broan AI is the only unit with wireless control. Now if only they had the same solution for their HE series (which they don't for some reason), I would be a happy camper. I also checked with RenewAir and Panasonic this week, and neither has wireless controls.

          1. Expert Member
            Akos | | #33

            I would go for one of the standard wireless controls for it.

            You can install a motion sensor in the bath and connected to a 5 wire wireless relay module. Walk into the bath, ERV runs on boost automatically.

            Something like a Leviton WSP12-010 and WSC04-IRW. There are many other similar options out there.

          2. Tim Kin | | #34

            @Akos, thanks for your suggestion. This will work for the baths but not the kitchen area though. I was also wondering if there is any way to activate the ERV when it's off. Let's say I have windows open and ventilation turned off, and I would like to use a booster function.

          3. CarsonB | | #35

            Tim, you can put a button anywhere to activate boost mode if that's what you are asking. I would question how much sense it would make to micromanage your ERV this much every time you open windows/etc. That sounds pretty annoying and any savings probably minimal. Perhaps you could hook up the boost to your range hood for the kitchen.

          4. Tim Kin | | #37

            Carson, annoying indeed :) I'm in CZ 4-5 but the weather has been mild for about a week now and I keep my windows open (rural area, no shortage of fresh air). I thought about keeping ERV running constantly even with windows open, but was not sure about how practical it would be from a savings perspective. But yes, you're correct, between minimal savings and convenience, I would always choose the latter. And yes, I'm going to install the boosters in any place that needs it. Thanks for your thoughts.

          5. Expert Member
            Akos | | #38

            Kim,

            Most wireless relay modules can accept multiple switch inputs. I would double check but I'm pretty sure you can program that Leviton module to be triggered by both motion sensor and wireless toggle switch in the kitchen.

        2. CarsonB | | #40

          "was not sure about how practical it would be from a savings perspective" I saw a post on here about one ERV using 40 watts. 40*24 hours = 960w a day, so under a kwh a day. Depending on your electricity price locally that's about 10 cents a day if my math is correct. I would say we have enough to worry about these days than to stress out about optimizing pennies. It would be nice if these things became more intelligent and automatically adjusted based on co2/etc. in the building. Some sensors at least will operate based on humidity.

  8. Jon R | | #29

    Distributed properly, 20 CFM per person will typically keep CO2 to less than 1000 ppm. Where clear thinking is important (perhaps an office), you may want 30 CFM per person.

  9. Chris Baskett | | #36

    Hey guys, looking to use in a very cold area. Regularly see -10 F. So, does it just blow inside air by the core and back into the room for a while to keep it warm? Does anyone know in very cold temps what percent of the day it will be warming the core that way vs exchanging air? 10%? 50%? Those would be very different.

    Anyone have success with this in extended extremely cold temps?

    1. Expert Member
      Akos | | #39

      Chris,

      Take a look at the data sheet for the unit (page 16):
      https://ftp.panasonic.com/ventilationfan/intellibalance/Intellibalance_en_install.pdf

      When it gets colder the unit runs more frequent defrost intervals. During defrost the unit recirculates inside air through the core to warm it up, this mean during this time you don't get any fresh air exchange.

      In colder climate, I would just watch where you put your fresh air supply from the unit. The air coming in will be bellow room temperature (~50F when -10F out). If you have dedicated ductwork, the fresh air supply should be somewhere high along a wall, blowing along the ceiling and away from people.

  10. Chris Baskett | | #41

    Great. So at 0 deg F it runs 75% of the time and at -20 deg F it runs 69% of the time. Very good to know. Better than 50/50 or worse and obviously that is a low (though we do get that for a week or more) and there will be a lot of 0 deg F and 10 deg F.

    So the other question is if anyone has run it in such conditions? Any Canadians or Coloradans using this successfully? North Dakota? :)….. would just be nice to have a few references before buying.

  11. user-7688267 | | #42

    Posting this several years after orginal article. I can get a version 1 Panasonic ERV for $650 saving about $300 over the version 2 one? Why is boost important? I'm guessing for removing air quickly after taking a shower?

    1. CarsonB | | #43

      Yes, but also your municipality may require a boost function if you are using your erv as your bath exhaust.

    2. Drew Baden | | #44

      But is it acceptable for removing moisture? I have the Broan equivalent ERV and spoke with technical support. I was informed that it’s not to be used to mitigate bathroom moisture. Quite a bummer since I like hot steamy showers.

  12. dcfortin | | #45

    Greetings... I am looking to purchase the Panasonic IT 200. Does anyone have experience with the IT 200 for cold climate? Also looking for the procedure to balance the IT 200. Thanks

    Dan Nitrof

    1. Roland Daoust | | #46

      I’m also looking to buy this unit for use in Canada. 2 bedrooms 2 baths wondering about wired and wireless options for the main control and 2 booster locations without going the hub and wifi route…

      1. dcfortin | | #47

        Hello Roland: I live in Northern Maine, along NB border. I have a solar preheater on the side of my house that on sunny winter days air from outside comes in over 100 F. The preheater faces South, made of empty beer cans. (thought other readers would be interested).. I will follow up on its function with the IB 200, as it will be replacing an older Venmar unit.
        I did order the Panasonic 200, waiting for it, hopefully soon. I plan to stick with the wired option for the wall control. I believe the wall control does have a booster option.

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