ERV comparison – placement and duct connections

We were owners of several UltimateAir RecoupAerator 200DX energy recovery ventilators (ERVs), until they broke down. And like so many other former 200DX owners, we found ourselves hunting for some suitable replacements. We settled on the Broan ERV200TE and Panasonic FV-20VEC1 (Intelli-Balance 200).

In this post I am comparing placement options and duct connections between the two units, and hope you will find the information useful if you are in a similar situation.

Placement options

The Broan and Panasonic are very similar in size to the old 200DX, which made it easy for us to fit them into their respective ventilation closets.

Both could be placed on the ground or a shelf/platform, but also had a wall mounting option, or chain mounting option (hanging from the ceiling). In our case both units were placed on a level platform in the ventilation closet.

Broan duct connections

All ERVs in our building have their own dedicated duct work, rather than being connected to an air furnace duct as we don’t have forced air heating.

The six inch duct ports on the Broan are all located on the top of the unit. The installation manual calls for insulated flex duct for the two ports connecting to the building exterior (fresh air intake and exhaust air). The two ports connecting to the building interior can use insulated flex duct, flex duct, or rigid duct work.

All duct ports are oval, which seemed odd at first. Because I used insulated flex duct for all connections, the oval shape was not a problem. Quite to the contrary, I ended up loving the port design for the ease of installation:

Each port has an inner and outer collar. The flex duct gets zip tied to the inner collars. The insulation is pulled down between the two collars. The flex duct jacket (vapor barrier) is pulled over the outer collar and sealed with port straps that come with the ERV. This makes for an easy and airtight duct connection, and does a fantastic job at avoiding common condensation issues during winter.

Panasonic duct connections

The six inch duct ports on the Panasonic are also located on the top of the unit. However, the fresh air port into the building and the stale air port from the building can be moved to the side of the ERV. Like with the Broan, the two ports on the Panasonic connecting to the building exterior (fresh air intake and exhaust air) require insulated flex ducts, while the ports connecting to the building interior can be connected to rigid ducts.

Even though the exterior duct ports have an insulated collar, connecting the insulated flex duct with an airtight and condensation proof connection proved challenging, compared to the Broan. The flex duct again gets zip tied to the duct collars, but so does the insulation and duct jacket. That creates a cold spot because of the compressed insulation under the zip tie.

To remedy the problem, I wrapped several layers of insulation foam tape around the collar, after I connected the flex duct. I pulled the insulation down to the foam tape insulation and pulled the duct jacket over the foam tape and zip tied it. Not perfect, but a better air seal and less of a cold spot than before.

The next post will compare the filter options of the ERVs.

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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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