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Panasonic Intellibalance 100 Install Questions

DavidDrake | Posted in Mechanicals on

Hello all,
I’m installing a Panasonic IB 100 ERV and have a few questions that don’t seem to be covered in the manual. Wonder if those of you with experience with this unit could help me out. My previous question on the subject, asking about duct design, is here:

The ERV serves a 580 SF studio apartment and ~225 SF home office. Space is at a premium, and the ERV is being installed in a small mechanical loft within the apartment’s conditioned space. A drawing of the location and ducting is included with my previous question.

If at all possible, I need to mount the ERV to the floor of the loft. That provides enough space for the recommended straight runs of duct off the ERV before elbows, and also enough clearance to remove the cover for service and filter changes. However, the installation manual only lists wall mount and chain mount as options.

Is there a problem using the wall mount hardware to secure the ERV to the loft floor, i.e., same orientation as chain mount but with a rigid  connection to the building like wall mount? Should I include some sort of rubber pads to deal with potential vibration?

Second question: it seems that to use the boost function, wiring is just armored conduit to a wall box, and then romex to the switch, which I assume is just a standard 120 v. 15-20 amp wall switch. If that’s the case, is there an issue using 3-way switches so that boost can be controlled from two bathrooms?

For what it’s worth, all duct runs are 6″, with the exception of 5″ Lifebreath exhaust/intake hood.

Thanks in advance.

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  1. mr_reference_Hugh | | #1

    I had called Panasonic on the same or similar questions and did not get answers that were fully satisfying to me but I will share what I "understood" from them.

    Q: Is there a problem using the wall mount hardware to secure the ERV to the loft floor, i.e., same orientation as chain mount but with a rigid connection to the building like wall mount?
    R: My *understanding* was that there was no problem doing what you are suggesting. I asked why the manual did not detail the option of hanging the unit on the ceiling using the wall mount brackets and what I *understood* was that this would cause lots of vibrations in the floor - but no other problems.

    Q: Should I include some sort of rubber pads to deal with potential vibration?
    R: Anything to reduce vibrations transfer would be ideal based on what i understood from the calls I made.

    Q: it seems that to use the boost function, wiring is just armored conduit to a wall box, and then romex to the switch, which I assume is just a standard 120 v. 15-20 amp wall switch.
    R: My understanding is exactly that from the calls that I made. From what I have understood, and I am really not sure about this, it would be best to use 16 or 14 gauge wire.

    Q: If that’s the case, is there an issue using 3-way switches so that boost can be controlled from two bathrooms?
    R: Panasonic told me that I could not install a timer. I asked why and they told me "because it was not designed to be used with a timer". I could not understand the difference between a timer and having someone flick the wall swithc on/off. Some of what they said I could not make sense of. There may be people here who have the confidence to reply but I would confirm with an electrician otherwise.

  2. DavidDrake | | #2

    Thanks, Hugh. Not overly concerned about the vibration issue as 'floor' is already isolated-ish from everything else (at least as much as any of the walls). Rubber insolation feet seem like a good idea, anyway.

    One of the Related Questions that shows up here is to a previous question about IB 100 boost wiring. It's here:

    Akos Toth explains the issue with anything other than a straight switch and provides a solution. Seem he also uses occupancy sensors rather than simple switches, which seems like a good idea, esp. in the rental apartment. It also seems like 3-way switches aren't necessary, just single-pole switches wired in parallel, if I read the post correctly. Makes sense: no reason why you'd need to switch boost off from the other location.

    I know an electrical tech at work that should be able to help me work out how to wire the relay and other controls.

  3. DennisWood | | #3

    Pretty sure Akos is running the IB100, so should be good reference. I see that indeed the wall and boost switch are line voltage so you'd run them just like an 120V circuit to code with a simple switch.

    If you want to automate on that switch, just use a relay like the Zooz multi-relay:

    It needs 12 volt DC power (inexpensive wall wart) but otherwise can switch up to three sets of live contacts/dry up to 240V, 10A. Then you can automate on motion in your setup etc. I use one for my garage door automation and it is rock solid. For stuff like this, I would install that relay at the ERV, and then automate away with remote zwave/zibgee buttons, scenes, etc. You could then automate on both boost and on/off with one device as the Zooz product has three separate (isolated) relays on board.

    Supported hubs etc here:

    I used similar devices (LFM20) (zWave, dry contact, 120V powered relay) for my ERV and a few other projects but I removed them due to reliability issues. The zooz is excellent.

    1. DavidDrake | | #4

      Thanks for the info, Dennis. Do I understand correctly that this setup wouldn't require hardwiring between ERV and boost or on/off switches?

    2. Expert Member
      Akos | | #6

      I don't have the IB100, unfortunately when I was shopping for mine, it was not available. I do have couple of the Panasonic spot ERVs running which have similar controls.

      I had a Nest thermostat which flatlined the battery after a software update causing the heat to shutdown in the middle of winter. That was the end of smart controls for major house systems. Nothing wrong with adding automation on top of basic hardware controls but I would make sure whatever the system it can still work with the smart controls off.

      1. DavidDrake | | #7

        Thanks, Akos.
        So if I go the hardwire route, and pull power into the bathroom switch box, could I use something like this:
        And if so, would this need a relay between the switch and boost, or does it connect directly (since it looks like it has neutral out)?

        1. Expert Member
          Akos | | #8

          Unless the device has uncommitted relay output, you need a relay between it and the IB100. Standard wall controls will always switch the hot lead and never the neutral, the neutral connection in this case is to provide power for the control electronics.

          It is not clear if the unit you linked to has 0W minimum load but looking at the diagram I would say it will most likely work.

          1. alex_coe | | #10

            Would I need a relay between the IB100 and one of these smart switches to control the boost function?

  4. DennisWood | | #5

    You would install the unit in a plastic junction box (for zwave transmission) box right next to the ERV. You would need a short length of romex to the ERV from the box..that's it. You'll need a plugin in the location for the 12V DC power (if using a wall wart) to the Zooz.

    If you install the Zooz to connect to the power and boost terminals, from that point on you could automate both boost and power to run however you'd like using a Hubitat or similar hub. A wireless wall switch, motion sensors in the kitchen and bath (for boost), time..whatever you like.

    That zooz relay also has button inputs (no power, just dry contact) so you can connect low voltage (like CAT5 ) cable to regular wall switches or any kind of button. It's super versatile.

    The manual gives you a few examples for connections.

    I should mention too that an old school crank timer (line voltage, like for a bath fan) would work fine on the boost connections as well. It just connects to two wires and powers itself via an internal spring powered clockwork. I'm pretty sure that these terminals are just signalling (so not much current required) so 14/2 wire is fine if you decide to go that route.

  5. user-5946022 | | #9

    I have not read the entire thread, but I do have some experience with the Panasonic devices, specifically the FV-04VE1, and the bath fans with the condensate module.
    For all of the Panasonic equipment, the electrician improperly wired it, because the wiring is not the same as other similar equipment, and the wiring instructions they received gave them too many options, and they chose the simplest, which also offers the least control.

    For the spot ERV FV-04EV1, it needs both an on/off switch, and a hi-low switch. Initially, they did not wire any switches to them because they thought it could be operated via the breaker, and would otherwise always stay on. They also thought the hi-low was selected at the time of wiring. At the time of wiring, the connector must be placed in either the 40/20 exhaust receptacle, or the 20/10 exhaust receptacle. These receptacles are inside the unit. Depending on which receptacle the plug is placed into, your two options are either 40 (hi)/ 20 (low), OR 20 (high)/10 (low), so switch to select is still needed. I had them put the receptacle in the 40/20 plug, so when my unit is on (switch A), I can select between 40/hi or 20/low using switch B. Hope that makes sense.

    In regards to the recommendations for a zooz zwave relay, please know you will need a hub that can control zwave devices. The Hubitat is a good recommendation, but be forwarned it has a rather steep learning curve. I also worry about whether the other household members or the next owner would be able/willing to control anything connected to Hubitat if I keel over. Thus, I try to make everything work with old fashioned wall switches. I agree with the zwave recommendation - much more stable that either zigbee or wifi.

    1. DennisWood | | #11

      Yes, wire everything so that they work with simple wall switches (regardless of automation) so there is always manual control, and so that you can remove automation bits if required. The Zooz relay(s) can be wired in parallel with no issues. I only brought up automation as David mentioned voice I'm guessing has already dabbled :-)

      I had the FV-04EV1 automated for on/off and hi/low speed, and do need to read the instructions carefully as high/low are not low voltage/dry. The IB100 (or spot ERV) should not have the power to the unit on a switch! If you do, then a power off with dampers open will leave them in that state. You need to leave these units powered 24/7 and control on/off via the contacts and a separate switch.

      Akos, with regard to NEST, they have had issues for sure related to their method of powering by "stealing" power from the RY wires. I only use Ecobee stats (which require a C wire and do not steal power) which also can control an ERV with dry contacts to co-ordinate with the furnace fan (serves an interlock function for ERV/HRV that do not have an interlock) and have some hourly runtime intelligence. I've installed about 12 of them now, and have precisely zero issues with any.

      On zWave vs Zigbee, my observations (includes Vera, Smartthings, Hubitat and about 300 odd devices at several locations) may differ a bit. Zigbee mesh is for sure more reliable with respect to self healing. I've had zWave issues more than once due to a misbehaving device in the mesh which requires in some cases resets, and manual zWave repairs. This can happen anytime you move a device as well. In some cases (using LFM20 relays) I've had to remove and replace zwave devices altogether.

      Automation is a rabbit hole :-)

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