Chiberia 2019 – ERV hibernation

Two aspects of our mechanical system fell victim to the Siberian express that ran over us during the last week of January. One of them was the Energy Recovery Ventilator (ERV).

The ERV typically operates down to 10 degrees Fahrenheit (-12 degrees Celsius). Below that, the enthalpy wheel freezes up, and a temperature sensor in the ERV shuts the unit off. That meant that we were without mechanical ventilation for three days.

That’s not too much of a problem, as we could crack open a window or two to get fresh air into the building. The down side was the big energy penalty when opening the windows.

I can report that it didn’t get stuffy despite the presence of two human beings and two dogs, and that humidity levels stayed under control as was evident by the minimal condensation at the bottom of the windows during the early morning hours.

Our ERV is an earlier model of the RecoupAerator 200DX. With the current model, temperatures below 10 degrees Fahrenheit (-12 degrees Celsius) should not be an issue as the unit comes with a pre-heating element.

The element is built into the fresh air intake and is tied to a temperature sensor which pulses it on and off as needed to maintain the incoming air at 12 degrees Fahrenheit (-11 degrees Celsius) to prevent the enthalpy wheel from freeze up. This allows the unit to operate at outdoor temperatures below 10 degrees Fahrenheit (-12 degrees Celsius). And if combined with a solar PV array, it can even operate at a low carbon footprint.

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About Marcus de la fleur

Marcus is a Registered Landscape Architect with a horticultural degree from the School of Horticulture at the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, and a Masters in Landscape Architecture from the University of Sheffield, UK. He developed a landscape based sustainable pilot project at 168 Elm Ave. in 2002, and has expanded his skill set to building science. Starting in 2009, Marcus applied the newly acquired expertise to the deep energy retrofit of his 100+ year old home in Chicago.

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