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A Homemade Heat Recovery Ventilator (HRV)

This data is extracted from the book:

ENERGY CONSERVATION IN HOUSING


A Collection of Data on
Energy-Efficient Housing Approaches
by: David L. Meinert

The printed version of this book was published by Vantage Press New York / Los Angeles
in 1990 and re-printed in 1992. As of 1996, it was out of print.
I made an electronic version, which I re-edited in 2003

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NOTE: This Google blog did NOT put any of the drawings / graphics necessary to
understand a lot of the information.
However, I have the complete (PDF) and Word documents of the text and graphics
on this site. Go to Home of this site, and look at Files which lists the book text in PDF format, as well
as additional files on other insulation and energy saving topics.

I also have the complete (PDF) documents of the text and graphics
on a Yahoo web-site.
The Yahoo site includes some photos of an attic and basement insulation project. Use this link to
connect to it.
http://groups.yahoo.com/group/EnergyConservationHousing
(Expect to have to sign in to the Yahoo group to access the data.)
Starting in November 2008, this data has been available on a different site (Multiply.com).

http://energyconshousing.multiply.com/
The main improvement on this Multiply site is the ability to add videos. I added some insulation videos
that can be viewed on the Multiply site. The Word and PDF documents are also on this site. However, my
home computer has been unable to open those documents on the Multiply site due to some problem with
JavaScript. If you run into similar problems, the best source for the complete PDF and Word documents
is on the above Yahoo site.
Expect to have to sign-in to the Multiply site to access the data.
Previously the text Word and PDF documents on the Multiply.com site were on an MSN site. http://
www.msnusers.com/EnergyConservationInHousing The MSN sites was closed in February 2009.
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Energy Conservation in Housing

The information on these pages describes a fresh air


ventilation device.
A Homemade Heat Recovery Ventilator (HRV)
What is an HRV? It is a ventilation device that blows out exhaust air while it brings in
fresh air from outside. It is designed to use the exhaust air to pre-heat the incoming outside air.
In this way, in the dead of winter, you can get a continual supply of fresh air into your home,
without the cold drafts and heat loss associated with open windows. Such a device is known as a
Heat Recovery Ventilator (HRV) or perhaps more descriptively as an air-to-air heat exchanger.

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NOTE: This Google site did NOT put any of the drawings / graphics necessary to
understand a lot of the information.
However, I have the complete (PDF) documents of the text and graphics
on a Yahoo web-site.
The Yahoo site includes some photos of an attic and basement insulation project. Use this link to
connect to it.
http://groups.yahoo.com/group/EnergyConservationHousing
(Expect to have to sign in to the Yahoo group to access the data.)
Starting in November 2008, this data has been available on a different site (Multiply.com).

http://energyconshousing.multiply.com/
The main improvement on this Multiply site is the ability to add videos. I added some insulation videos
that can be viewed on the Multiply site. The Word and PDF documents are also on this site. However, my
home computer has been unable to open those documents on the Multiply site due to some problem with
JavaScript. If you run into similar problems, the best source for the complete PDF and Word documents
is on the above Yahoo site.
Expect to have to sign-in to the Multiply site to access the data.

A Homemade Heat Recovery Ventilator (HRV)


Previously the text Word and PDF documents on the Multiply.com site were on an MSN site. http://
www.msnusers.com/EnergyConservationInHousing
All MSN sites are scheduled to be closed in February 2009.
++++++++++++++++

The above diagram shows only one heat exchange plate. In actuality more plates are used
to get a better recovery of heat. These ventilation devices are sold commercially, in various
types.
For the homemade version I designed, I used 10 exhaust chambers alternating with 10
intake chambers similar to the alternating plates in the counterflow heat exchanger diagram
shown below.

For the homemade heat exchanger, the heat exchange plates are aluminum, sold as
aluminum flashing commonly available in hardware stores. The plates are spaced apart,
using wood or plastic lumber strips, to keep the heat exchange plates at an even spacing. As
I describe in this text, it is possible to make such a ventilation device, using some commonly
available items, found in hardware and building supply stores.
The idea is to circulate the incoming air throughout the house, and to exhaust stale air
from the house, such as from bathrooms. In my house, I connected two bathroom exhaust ducts,
and added a hallway exhaust duct, to go to the exhaust side of the heat exchanger. For the
incoming fresh air, I simply brought it to one point in my house, where it entered into the
basement, instead of adding extra ductwork to each room.

Energy Conservation in Housing

A Homemade Heat Recovery Ventilator (HRV)

Air-to-Air Heat Exchangers: Homemade Models


A commercial air-to-air heat exchanger can be expensive. There are methods to fabricate
a heat exchanger with the needed materials, mechanical skill, and time. The complete cost of
materials for a homemade whole-house heat exchanger can be half of the cost of an equivalent
commercial model. Making an air-to-air heat exchanger requires extensive work in the time
spent gathering the assorted materials and assembly of all the parts. In addition, it may be
difficult to produce final performance comparable to some of the well-designed commercial
models. If not properly made, any retail model will be better.

History of homemade heat exchangers


As energy costs rose, new ways were found to build homes having far less space heating
demands. Due to the nearly airtight construction used in these new homes, indoor air tends to
rapidly become stale. Before long, techniques were being devised to provide fresh air for energy
efficient homes by recovering heat from the exhaust air. Commercial models of air-to-air heat
exchangers were not initially available, so individuals and groups began to design heat
exchangers for residential use.
In the late 1970s, the Mechanical Engineering Department at the University of
Saskatchewan, Canada, designed a heat exchanger using polyethylene vapor barrier as the
exchange material. The polyethylene sheeting was wrapped around plywood spacer strips to
form a parallel plate counterflow exchanger. Over the years, they designed two different models
of this exchanger. The first model used -inch thick strips of pressure-treated plywood. The
later model used 5/16 - inch plywood and acoustical sealant to prevent moisture from entering
the edge of the wooden spacer strips. In the second model, each exchange plate had a net size of
84" x 21", providing about 340 square feet of internal surface area for the 28 exchange plates.
The exchanger was about 8 feet in overall length x 2 foot wide by 10 inches thick.
In 1985, the same group in Saskatchewan published a design (Solplan 6) of a new
exchanger made from a rigid plastic sheeting material called coroplast. Coroplast is a doublewall sheet of rigid plastic. The air is made to flow through the spaces within the coroplast for
one air stream; air is passed on the outside of the coroplast for the other stream of air. The
homemade coroplast exchanger is a crossflow core, with the exhaust air routed in a double pass
through the exchanger. The design is far more compact than that of the earlier counterflow
model, with the final size of the core about 36 x 36 x 12 inches.
Polyethylene sheeting as used in the original counterflow model lacks rigidity. When the
fans force air through the exchanger, the polyethylene exchange plates tend to billow and close
off the air passageways unless the plastic is stretched very tightly during installation.
Polyethylene exchange plates tend to cause very high internal air resistance when both blowers
are operational. This requires much electrical power to get reasonable airflow.

Energy Conservation in Housing

Coroplast is far superior to polyethylene for use as heat exchange plates. Unfortunately,
coroplast is not widely available. It is manufactured in Canada in 4 x 8 foot sheets about -inch
thick. The size makes it difficult to order coroplast by mail when not locally available. A
number of commercially available models use coroplast as the exchange medium, having
exchanger cores of single-pass and double-pass crossflow as well as counterflow designs.

A homemade design for air-to-air heat exchangers


(as designed by the author of this text)

This text describes a homemade counterflow heat exchanger using aluminum flashing as
the exchange plate material. As a heat exchange medium, aluminum is superior to plastics since
it has a conductivity hundreds of times higher, allowing good heat transfer with less surface area.
Plywood strips can be used as spacers for the aluminum plates. Use plywood about -inch
thick, cut in strips 1-inch wide, cut to the proper lengths. Seal the edges of the plywood with
acoustical sealant, or equivalent, to prevent moisture from entering the edges of the wood. By its
nature, plywood could eventually rot from the moisture condensing in the exchanger core even
when sealant protects the wood. Plastic lumber can be used as spacer strips (one can find
information on plastic lumber by a search of the Internet). When I designed this heat exchanger
in 1988, I used a brand of plastic garden "bender board" which was likely one of the first types
of plastic lumber I used it instead of plywood spacer strips. Bender board was available
where I lived at that time (California, in 1988), but I never found it again after I moved to the
East Coast of the US.
Plastic bender board, intended to be placed in the ground as edging for gardens, is resistant
to both cold and moisture. Bender board came in 40-foot rolls, about 3-inch wide x -inch
thick. To provide support and spacing for the aluminum sheets, a 1-inch width of the bender
board is sufficient. The roll could be cut into 1-inch widths and the needed lengths with a table
saw. Each roll then provides about 120 feet of 1-inch strips. The exchanger design is a parallel
plate counterflow design about 5 feet in length, with 21 aluminum exchange plates.

A Homemade Heat Recovery Ventilator (HRV)

Homemade air-to-air heat exchanger core materials list:


(Materials list from 1988)

Use some form of material for spacer strips such as plastic lumber. Years ago, when
I made my heat exchanger, I found a plastic material, that did the job. It was plastic
bender board, intended to be used as edging in gardens. I used 4 rolls of the plastic bender
board ("Plastiform" Lawn and Garden Bender Board, durable redwood grained plastic,
manufactured by Kerber Associates, Inc., 1260 Pioneer Street, Brea, CA 92621, (714) 8712451) . . . . about $10 per roll.
In the present day, you could use an equivalent amount of plastic lumber to have spacer strips
about thick. If you cant get thick plastic lumber, you might still get reasonable heat
recovery using the more commonly available 1 thick plastic lumber as spacer strips. Such an
exchanger would use less aluminum (due to half the number of exchange plates). (Using 1
thick plastic lumber should make it easier to seal at the ports.)

2 rolls of 50-foot long aluminum flashing. The 14-inch width is perhaps the minimum width that
should be used. The 20-inch width will provide 50% more exchange area for a larger-capacity
airflow. Flashing is also manufactured in 24- and 28-inch widths, although most hardware
stores may not stock the wider sizes.
5 pounds of 1 - inch (5d) galvanized box nails
pound of 1-inch (2d) galvanized box nails
2 tubes of silicone sealant
One box of staples inch or longer and staple gun. (More nails can alternatively be used instead
of staples, although staples make it easier to hold parts of the exchanger in position during
assembly.)
Pop rivets or sheet metal screws for assembling sheet metal sections
10 feet of rigid angle metal ( x -inch, to form the rigid metal attachment flange)
1 or 2 hose or tubing connectors as condensate drains (3/8 to inch in diameter)
4' x 8' sheet of rigid insulation, to 1-inch thick.
One large section of sheet metal (perhaps 3 foot x 10 foot in size) cut to specific dimensions to
cover the exterior of the exchanger (alternatively, plywood can be used).
Additional remnants of sheet metal (to make endplates and expansion chambers)
30 feet of 1 x 1 inch sheet metal angle strip. (Alternatively, 1 x 1 - inch size can be used)
Sheet metal duct pipe, 6 inches in diameter. Four duct pipe sections, at least 4 inches long each,
will be needed. Two of the sections should have a tapered end. To directly install duct
booster fans in the pipe, two of the sections should be made about 8 inches long. If tapered
ends are desired for each connector, then four original duct pipes are needed.
Procedure. Cut the rolls of bender board (or plastic lumber) into 1-inch-wide strips. Bender
board strips cut and nail similar to wood, although they are far more flexible and difficult to
handle when cutting. Make the following lengths of the 1-inch-wide strips:
51" long strips
8" long strips
14" long strips
50" long strips

80 needed
80 needed
4 needed (for the outer layer on each side)
4 needed (for the outer layer on each side)

Energy Conservation in Housing

I tested my heat exchanger design, and found it had about 72% heat recovery.
(The inside house / exhaust temperate is 68 F; the outside temperature is +8 F. The incoming air is pre-heated to
51 F. Inside to outside: 68-8 = 60 T; intake air pre-heat: 51 - 8 = 43 T; 43 60 = 71.6% recovery)

A Homemade Heat Recovery Ventilator (HRV)


NOTE. Consider using plastic lumber, potentially cut from thick material, to
serve as the spacer strips. If -inch thick plywood is used instead of plastic bender board,
then 40 strips of 51-inch length and 40 strips of 8-inch length plywood will serve as spacers.
Alternatively, if the exchanger is made 3 inches shorter, 48-inch long plywood strips with 51inch long exchange plates could be used. The edges of the wood must be caulked to block
condensed moisture from entering the wood in order to prevent later rotting. Wrapping the
plywood strips with 6 mil polyethylene could also prevent moisture from entering the edges
of the wood; it will still be necessary to use sealant at the edges of the plywood strips to keep
moisture from getting around the polyethylene into the ends of the wood strips. Pressure
treated plywood might alternatively be used.

Cut the aluminum flashing into 54-inch lengths (each sheet will be 54 x 14 inches for the
small size exchanger). Each aluminum roll will make 11 plates; 21 plates will be needed for the
exchanger. There is a one-inch overlap of the aluminum plates at the port ends of the exchanger
to allow the aluminum plates to be folded together when sealing the ports; the plates are 54
inches long and the plastiform (or plastic lumber) laminations are only 52 inches long.

Each exhaust lamination is two layers of plastiform thick; each intake lamination is also
two layers of plastiform thick. The resultant air space is nearly inch on either side of each
exchange plate.
The exchanger is assembled in sandwich fashion: an exhaust lamination, an aluminum
exchange plate, an intake lamination, an aluminum plate, an exhaust lamination, an aluminum
plate, et cetera. It is difficult to get the first few layers started, since one is connecting exhaust
laminations to intake laminations through an aluminum plate, not providing enough thickness for
nailing until there are at least 5 layers of plastiform strips. To get the process started, attach an
intake and exhaust layer on either side of one aluminum plate by way of inch staples. After 5
layers of plastiform, the 2d nails can be used. Once there are 9 layers of plastiform, the 5d nails
can be used.
Using 1 thick plastic lumber should make it easier to seal at the ports. The aluminum
could be bent over and nailed to the adjacent plastic lumber, perhaps taking less time and effort
than the above-described rolling and flattening of the aluminum plates. (This process is
described in the above diagram, and in more detail in the diagram on page 9.)

Energy Conservation in Housing

A Homemade Heat Recovery Ventilator (HRV)


Continue by alternating the laminations of exhaust and intake plastiform. Always use an
aluminum plate in between each double layer of plastiform strips. While staples are convenient
in holding the plastiform strips in place temporarily, it will be necessary to use 5d nails every 3
layers of plastiform strips to hold the exchanger core together. The nails should be spaced about
every 1.5 inches along the plastiform strips to ensure a fairly good air seal, but do not use nails
through the 5" spaces reserved for the ports. Stretch the aluminum plates and plastic strips
tightly when stapling in place to prevent bunching up the materials. Continue the assembly until
there are a total of 10 intake laminations and 10 exhaust laminations. There are 19 exchange
plates between the laminations and 2 plates on the outside of the exchanger, for a total of 21
plates. The 19 internal plates provide the heat exchange surface. The outer plates are secured in
place by the 14-inch and 50-inch plastiform strips, using a nailing pattern similar to the earlier
layers. Be careful not to nail through the 5-inch spaces reserved for the ports. The thickness of
the central core will be about 9 inches. There is a possibility of some air leakage through the
layers of plastiform strips; a tight nailing pattern will minimize leakage out the sides. Near the
ends of the exchanger where plastiform strips attach at right angles there is more possibility for
leakage; the outside of the exchanger should be caulked along these joints. As a finishing touch,
the two plastic sides of the exchanger can be covered with aluminum flashing, requiring two
more sheets of flashing, about 52 inches long each. With the sides of the aluminum sealed under
the final plastiform strips and the ends caulked at the expansion chambers, any air or moisture
that leaks between the plastiform strips will be trapped in that space and will not allow further
leakage.
The ports are sealed by the following procedure: (1) Cut away a section of aluminum
between the ports; (2) fold the aluminum around the plastiform strips to leave a clear opening
for each port; and (3) caulk the edges of the folded aluminum to prevent air leakage from the
opposing air stream.

The aluminum flashing material might have a coating of oil on it from the factory. If
desired, you could clean off the metal surface before or after assembly. After I completed my
basic exchanger core, I soaked the exchanger in a large container of soapy water to dissolve the
oil and any dirt introduced during assembly. (Actually I filled a large garbage can with soapy
water, soaking the core, one end at a time, to dissolve the oil. Then I rinsed thoroughly with a
garden hose to remove the soapy water.)

Energy Conservation in Housing

A Homemade Heat Recovery Ventilator (HRV)


Note: I used the Superbooster fan set-up (shown below) when I first installed my home
heat exchanger. By the time I needed replacement fans, that company (Ancor Industries) was
apparently out of business. I was able to find a suitable replacement in local hardware stores.
(The Tjernlund company makes such duct boosters, WITHOUT the vibration-absorbing foam
rubber feature.)

Energy Conservation in Housing

When the central core is completed, an expansion chamber is attached to both ends of the
exchanger. Two pieces of sheet metal will be needed, 5 by 50 inches in size. These are wrapped
around the port ends of the core to make a rectangular tube, holes are drilled through the sheet
metal, and the expansion chamber is nailed to the plastiform perimeter at each end of the
exchanger. Another piece of sheet metal (4 x 10 inches) is installed as a septum to divide the
exhaust and intake airflows. The septum is formed by making inch folds on two ends. (The
final septum size is 4 x 9 inches for a 9-inch thick exchanger core). Where the septum contacts
the exchanger between the ports the seal can be made more secure by cutting a score line (with a
hacksaw) in the plastiform and setting the septum in the groove before sealing with caulk. All
the internal joints of the expansion chamber and septum must be caulked to prevent air leakage
and cross-leakage. Attach rigid angle metal to the perimeter edge of the sheet metal and to the
septum to allow for attachment of the end plate at a later time. The end plate will hold the two
duct pipes and the condensate drain. Rigid insulation covers the central core; sheet metal or
plywood covers the exterior of the exchanger. For best results, the exchanger made from 14inch wide exchange plates should have 6-inch-diameter ducts; 4-inch-diameter ducts will
provide sufficient airflow for only 100 cfm capacity. Careful measurements are necessary when
making the endplates, since the spacing is very tight.
Once the exchanger is assembled, it must be hooked to the appropriate duct connections for
fresh air supply and exhaust air removal; fans are attached to move air through the exchanger.
Theoretically, if the home is tightly constructed, when air is exhausted fresh air automatically
will be drawn in through the fresh air ductwork of the exchanger; hooking up bathroom and
kitchen exhaust fans to the exchanger would serve this purpose. By exhausting air (without
active fresh air supply), a negative air pressure is created in the home, potentially increasing
radon infiltration as well as driving infiltration through any break in the vapor barrier. In
practice, most exchangers have both exhaust and intake fans.

Air movement can be provided by a twin centrifugal blower (both air streams moved by
one motor) or by separate axial fans or centrifugal blowers. The fans can be built into the warm
end of the exchanger instead of directly attaching the endplate, or a separate blower housing can
supply the air to the exchanger through ducts. Commercial heat exchangers use either detached
fan modules or built-in fans. Either method is suitable for this exchanger, depending on the
preference of the builder. I found that the easiest method is to use "duct boosters" in the duct
connections next to the endplate. See the listing of fan and blower suppliers on page 18.
Filters should be installed to reduce dust accumulation in the exchanger. (See page 153 for
updated details on filters for this homemade exchanger.) For up to 200 cfm airflow, 10-inch x
10-inch filters, installed in the duct system before air reaches the exchanger core, should provide
adequate filtering.

A Homemade Heat Recovery Ventilator (HRV)


The filter housings can be homemade from sheet metal or plywood, with duct connections on
both sides of the filter housing. There are filter accessories from heat exchanger companies for
this exact purpose. (See product listings.) In the bathroom and kitchen provide exhaust ducts
for the exchanger. In the kitchen use a re-circulating range hood with a grease trap instead of
venting directly to the exchanger; the exchanger duct in the kitchen removes the exhaust. The
clothes dryer should be vented directly outdoors; lint from the dryer would quickly clog the
exchanger. There are some indoor dryer vent diverters sold for use with electric clothes dryers.
These diverter switches are used during winter to put the dryer heat (and moisture) in the house
instead of putting it outdoors. If this diverter is covered by a nylon mesh, most of the lint can be
trapped before getting into the house air. (e.g., Cover the diverter with one "leg" from a section
of nylon hosiery to catch most of the lint that would otherwise be expelled.) The moisture
released will tend to raise the humidity in the home excessively. If there is an effective heat
exchanger system, the moisture will be removed within a few hours. (Authors comment: When
I tried venting dryer air inside my house, I found an increase in mold/mildew deposits on paper
products stored near the laundry area. This occurred even with the presence of the air-to-air heat
exchanger. I believe that venting a dryer indoors it usually a bad idea, even if an air-to-air heat
exchanger is used in the house.)
Under no circumstances should a dryer vent diverter be used with a dryer burning fuel for
its operation. (The combustion by-products must be expelled outdoors.)
The pre-warmed fresh air should not be routed directly into the cold air duct of the furnace.
(It should be ducted no closer than 10 inches from the cold air inlet of the furnace.) If the heat
exchanger air is directly ducted into the furnace air plenum, the furnace fan would make the
airflow through the exchanger dangerously out of balance, since the furnace fan is far more
powerful than the exchanger fans.27 The air from the heat exchanger should be distributed to all
rooms of the house for best air circulation, such as by putting ducts through open cavities of
internal walls, floors, and ceilings. If the fresh air is brought to only one point, new air will not
be obtained in rooms away from the fresh air supply.13
The fans used to run the heat exchanger should be able to move the needed amount of air
without overworking the motor. Some axial fans are not strong enough to move air against
much resistance, whereas most centrifugal fans are better able to maintain airflow despite
moderate resistance. For the size exchanger described in this text, up to 150 cfm will give
reasonable efficiency. An airflow rate of 150 cfm will provide 0.5 air changes per hour for a
two-story home, 1,125 square feet per floor, with 8-foot ceilings. (150 cfm x 60 minutes =
9,000 cubic feet per hour. 1,125 sq ft x 8 ft ceiling x 2 floors = 18,000 cubic feet of house air.
9,000 cubic feet per hour 18,000 cubic feet per air change = 0.5 air changes per hour.) In a
well-sealed house, infiltration may supply 0.1 air changes per hour. Thus to obtain 0.5 air
changes the exchanger need supply only 0.4 air changes per hour.
Higher flow rates are possible with this exchanger. However, the port openings will cause
significant airflow resistance. There are 10 ports for exhaust and intake, each 5 inches long and 7/
16 inches wide. This leaves only 22 square inches of open space for the air to enter the
exchanger for each direction of flow. Six-inch duct pipes allow 28 square inches for airflow. (4inch duct pipe provides only 12.5 square inches cross-sectional area.) Most axial fans cannot
force more than 150 cfm through a 22 square inch space, although centrifugal blowers may have
the power to nearly double the airflow rate. Unfortunately, substantially increased electrical
power is needed to run centrifugal blowers.

Energy Conservation in Housing


Using 20-inch-wide aluminum flashing to make the exchanger, the port openings will be 8
inches long, providing a 35-square-inch area for the 10 laminations of exhaust and intake. This
would allow nearly 250 cfm airflow rates with axial fans. Alternatively, using more laminations
of the 14-inch-wide exchanger plates will allow higher airflow rates.

Under very cold outdoor conditions, moisture can freeze on the exchange plates in the
exhaust air stream; if sufficient ice accumulates, the exchanger will be unable to function.
Defrosting can be accomplished by turning off the heat exchanger (requiring a very long time for
the core to thaw out) or routing air at room temperature through the exchanger when the cold air
fan is off. Solplan 6 suggests that defrosting can be done automatically by having the intake air
blower hooked to a 24-hour timer. The timer will shut off the cold air blower on the schedule set
on the timer. If the outside temperature is above +14F, no defrosting is needed. With outside
temperatures at 0F, a 30-minute shutoff every 24 hours is sufficient. At -40F, a 30-minute
shutoff every 12 hours will allow defrosting. During the defrost mode, the warm air from the
house is still being exhausted. The heat of the exhausted air will serve to defrost the frozen
core.27 Under ordinary conditions (when the house is closed up during cold or very hot
weather), the heat exchanger should be run continuously at the flow rate needed to provide fresh
air. (Usually 0.4 to 1.0 air changes per hour is sufficient.) Wiring the exchanger to a humidistat
is not correct, because the inside humidity level is not necessarily an indication of the level of
indoor air pollution.
During mild weather, it may be preferable to open the windows for ventilation, instead of
using the heat exchanger. If the exchanger is to be used to pre-cool hot, humid air in summer,
there may be condensation on the intake air passageways. For this reason, a condensate drain
can be installed on the warm air end of the exchanger for summer use. However, I have found in
14 years of use in my house, in hot, humid summers, that condensation is not an issue on the
warm air end of the exchanger.
The final efficiency of the exchanger will be better if the exchanger is made thicker, using
more exchange plates. Having 50% more exchange plates will allow 50% more airflow with no
loss of efficiency. It is also possible to make single layers of plastiform (exhaust and intake
spacers) to separate the exchange plates; doing this will use 41 aluminum plates, doubling the
exchange area (and doubling the cost of the aluminum). However, with single layers of
plastiform, the spacing will be so tight that sealing the ports (by rolling the aluminum plates) will
be very difficult.

A Homemade Heat Recovery Ventilator (HRV)


The exchanger can also be made wider (20 to 28 inches instead of 14 inches) to provide greater
exchange area and airflow capacity. When making the exchanger wider than 14 inches, it is
necessary to increase the port length to allow more airflow. (For a 20-inch exchanger width,
use 8-inch ports; for 28-inch exchanger width use 10- to 12-inch ports.) There should be at least
a 2-inch overlap of the plastiform strips between the ports to allow adequate space for nailing.
With a port size larger than 8 inches, it may be very difficult to fold the aluminum plates to make
the port openings as described in the diagram "Sealing the ports of the heat exchanger." The
force needed to roll that amount of aluminum is probably more than the 3/16-inch steel rods can
withstand.

In constructing the basic core of the 14-inch-wide exchanger, the assembly time was about
30 hours and the cost of material was $220, plus the fan costs. See the product listings for
possible sources of blowers and fans.
The ductwork of the exchanger system goes through the exterior walls for fresh air intake
and exhaust air removal. The sections of duct pipe going through the wall should have a shield
to keep out the rain and a screen to keep out insects and birds. Position the fresh air duct away
from possible sources of contaminated air (away from car exhaust, fireplace smoke, septic vent
pipes, and the exhaust duct of the heat exchanger).

Although 4-inch duct vents (as used for clothes dryers) going through exterior walls can be
obtained for several dollars, the 6-inch sizes usually cost substantially more.

Energy Conservation in Housing


If the exchanger and duct connections do not cause equal airflow resistance, flow
balancing between the two air streams is necessary. The air streams are balanced by installation
of dampers in the exhaust and intake exchanger duct pipes within the house.

Test and adjust flow balance on a calm day. Open one window and seal it with a loose
cover of polyethylene sheeting. Turn on the heat exchanger with both dampers fully open.
If the plastic bows or curves outward, the house has positive pressure due to excessive
intake airflow. Gradually adjust the damper on the intake airflow until the plastic sheet is limp,
curving neither in nor out. At this point the two flows are balanced.
If the plastic curves inward, the house has negative pressure, requiring that the damper
on the exhaust side be adjusted to balance the airflow.27

The exhaust air ducts should be located high on the wall, where the most humid and stale
air is present. (Cooking and showering give off heat and humidity, which will rise.) According
to heat exchanger manufacturers, the fresh air ducts should also be located high on the wall to
allow the cooler fresh air to mix better, instead of staying closer to the floor. Alternatively, if
you have bathroom exhaust fans already installed, you can route the exhaust ducts into an air
chamber leading to the heat exchanger.
When the clothes dryer is in operation, it will induce some imbalance of the airflow
between exhaust and intake air of the house since it is adding to house air exhaust and not to air
intake. It is possible to reduce this imbalance by venting outside supply air directly to the dryer
or to make a small capacity heat exchanger core specifically for the clothes dryer. The dryer fan
system will drive both airflows and no additional fans are needed. Such a heat exchanger core
must be provided with filters and frequently cleaned to remove collected lint. (Putting such
detail into the clothes dryer exhaust system seems to be way too much work.)

A Homemade Heat Recovery Ventilator (HRV)

Energy Conservation in Housing

Blowers and fans

that one could use in a homemade air-to-air heat exchanger. Such items can
be purchased from a hardware store, or from local heating, ventilation, or "electric motor" suppliers. It
may be possible to locate motors of some wholesale fan/blower manufacturing companies through their
distributors or repair people. Local distributors might be found in the Yellow Pages under "Electric
Motors," "Heating," or "Ventilation." Below are some manufactures of blowers and fans.
1)
Tjernlund Products, 1601 Ninth Street, White Bear Lake, MN 55110-6794; (615)426-2993; 800-255-4208
This company markets duct pipe fans typically available in hardware stores (as of September 2003). See comments
on page 153 about fan blade shape and airflow problems (and how to resolve them). They are easily adapted for use
in the homemade air-to-air heat exchanger.
2)

Some other sources for duct booster fans, found by search of the Internet, as of September 2003.
A. Smarthome.com has duct boosters for 4 to 12 diameter ducts.
B. ESP ENERGY; 1615 Newberry; Racine, WI 53402; (262) 681-9288; 1-888-551-9288. Has in-line duct
fans for 4 to 12 ducts, plus several other similar fan versions.
C. Empire Ventilation Equipment Co. 35-39 Vernon Blvd; Long Island City; NY 11106 (718)728-2143.
Has in-line duct fans for 6 to 12 ducts.
D. Aero-Flo Industries; P.O. Box 358; Kingsbury, IN 45645-0358; (219) 393-3555. Has 6 in-line duct fans.

3)
Ancor Industries, 1220 Rock Street, Rockford, IL 61101, (815)963-7100. (This company apparently out of
business, as of 1994.) This company sold fans easily installed in duct pipes. Their Superbooster duct boosters were
intended for use in heating and cooling duct pipes to improve airflow to selected rooms. Motors were low-wattage
and were made in 120 Volts (AC), 24 Volts (AC), and 240 volts (AC); sound insulated with foam rubber. I found
the 6-inch size fans very well suited for the homemade heat exchanger (using 14-inch wide aluminum plates) that I
describe on pages 97-109. Below were the sizes and specifications during the time they were made.
Duct size
5 inch
6 inch
7 inch
8 inch

Model Volts
15-0070
115 V
15-0071
115 V
15-0072
115 V
15-0073
115 V

Amps
0.37
0.40
0.44
0.46

Watts
15
20
23
25

total CFM
80
110
150
200

Price
$39.95
$39.95
$39.95
$39.95

Shipping
$3.00
$3.00
$3.00
$3.00

4)
Broan Manufacturing Company, P.O. Box 140, Hartford, WI 53027. This company makes various
ventilation products. (As of September 2003) Broan makes Heat Recovery Ventilators, and has fans and blowers
available as replacement parts for a large variety of ventilation units they market. Below are listed a few of these
fan and blowers with some related statistical data (from 1990). To vary motor speeds for these models, model no.
57 solid state infinite speed control, 3 amp capacity ($22.95) is suitable.
Broan Centrifugal blowers
Part #
total CFM
97006021
100
97006022
160

Used For
ventilator 360
ventilator 361

Model # Price
$58.60
0.7
$61.30
1.0

Amps

Broan Axial room-to-room fans: Units complete with housing


Part #
total CFM
Used For
6 inch fan
90
Ventilating
8 inch fan
180
Ventilating

Model # Price
512
$33.95
511
$78.95

Amps
1.0
1.5

Broan Axial range fans: Fan and bracket only


Part #
total CFM
Used For
97005163
190
range hood
97005161
160
range hood

Model # Price
42000
$21.90
40000
$21.20

Amps
0.8

(two speeds)

A Homemade Heat Recovery Ventilator (HRV)


Broan Twin centrifugal blowers ("dual blowers")
Part #
total CFM
CFM/stream
Watts
97006152
200
100
range hood
97005985
360
180
range hood
97007542
440
220
range hood
97006023
200
100
Ventilator
97006024
300/310
150
Ventilator
97007074
960
480
Ventilator

Used For
76000
88000
89000
362
363, 383
366

Model #

$46.40
$66.80
$87.40
$75.70
$81.60
$167.90

Price

225
155
270
115
165
390

5)
Northern Tool & Equipment Co., P.O. Box 1499, Burnsville, Minnesota 55337-0499. 1-800-533-5545. This
mail-order company occasionally has surplus fans and blowers at a low cost that could potentially be used in a heat
exchanger.

Below are listed other types of fans and blowers made by wholesale manufacturers. (as of 1992)
1. Howard Industries, P.O. Box 287, Milford, IL 60953. This manufacturer makes a number of sizes of lowwattage axial fans. The manufacturer sells only to distributors. Write to the manufacturer for a listing of
distributors. Below are listed a few of the 115 volt models.
Model #
CFM
Diameter
2672
70 cfm
4.7"
4315
100 cfm
4.7"
6052
120 cfm
6.72"
5812
180 cfm
6.72"
5804
240 cfm
6.72"
0101
560 cfm
10.0"
Power cord, 24" long, Model No. 6-170-672, $1.11 each

Watts
17 W.
19 W.
10 W.
18 W.
30 W.
37 W.

Price
$25.74
$25.74
$52.76
$55.54
$42.85
$55.46

(plus power cord)


$1.11
$1.11
$1.11
$1.11
$1.11
$1.11

2)
Fasco Industries, Inc., Motor Division Headquarters, 500 Chesterfield Center, Suite 200, St. Louis, MO
63017. The manufacturer sells only to wholesale distributors.
It may be possible to locate some of their
distributors or repair people through the yellow pages. The manufacturer makes a number of different types of
blowers and fans for specific commercial applications. Below are specifications of a few of the many blowers
made by Fasco.
75 cfm, Model B75, 115 V, 0.59 amps.
105 cfm, Model 50757-D500, 115 V, 0.55 amps.
120 cfm, Model 50746-D500, 115 V, 0.72 amps.
160 cfm, Model 50755-D500, 115 V, 1.0 amp.
180 cfm, Model B47120, 115 V, 1.95 amp.
212 cfm, Model A212, 115 V, 1.25 amps.
320 cfm, Model 50756-D500, 115 V, 1.3 amps.

Energy Conservation in Housing

Air-to-Air Heat Exchanger -- Update information (as of 1995)


In 1988 I designed and constructed a homemade air-to-air heat exchanger. (This is described on
pages 96 to 109). I installed the heat exchanger that same year in our new home, using the Superbooster
duct fans as described on pages 109 and 143. After more than 6 years of faithful service, the intake fan
motor wore out. Being unable to obtain a replacement Superbooster (the company apparently went out of
business), I then replaced the fan with a Tjernlund* fan designed for 6" ducts. I soon found the new fan
had a difficult time maintaining adequate airflow. The motor often labored and ran down to very low
RPMs. This was particularly the case if the inlet airflow was even slightly restricted. By comparing the
Superbooster to the Tjernlund fan, the main apparent difference was with the fan wheel itself. The
Superbooster fan wheel was made from a circular aluminum disc, cut and shaped to have 10 pie-shaped
blades to move the air. The Tjernlund fan wheel was a plastic disc, molded to have 4 fan blades. The
Tjernlund fan wheel caused a larger volume of air to move since the blades struck a much larger area of
air per revolution. If the inlet air was restricted (by filters and bends in the ventilation system), the
Tjernlund fan ran down. Yet under restricted airflow the Superbooster fan seemed to actually speed up. I
found that by reducing the size of the Tjernlund fan blades, I could prevent the motor from being
overloaded by reducing its airflow capacity to be better suited for the 6" ducts and filters of the heat
exchanger. The below diagram shows how to trim the fan blades. It is necessary to make exact
measurements and careful cuts (such as by using a coping saw, and then filing the edges smooth) to keep
the fan wheel in balance for when it is reinstalled on the motor.

When I first installed the heat exchanger, I used a screened inlet to keep insects out, and then I used
an in-line dust filter. Over time, I found conventional ("furnace") filters are NOT effective in keeping
dust out of the heat exchanger; dust also eventually clogs the fan blades and motor. I found that " thick
foam rubber (such as used for carpet padding or for thin cushioning) makes a very effective filter for dust.
I covered the outside air inlet with " foam rubber and made an additional 10" x 10" in-line filter (using
foam rubber) to keep dust out of the exchanger. I also used the same filtering system on the exhaust side,
prior to air reaching the exchanger. It is typically necessary to remove the intake filters and clean them
(using soap and water) usually every few months since they get progressively clogged with dust over time.
I later obtained filter foam from a store specializing in foam (and foam mattresses). The filter
foam I obtained in 1-inch thickness. I now use the filter foam as the in-line air filter. I also use the new
filter foam to replace the previous foam rubber, to cover the outside air inlet for the air-to-air heat
exchanger duct. I use the filter foam to replace the foam rubber for the inside of the exhaust air
plenum, to block dust from ever reaching the heat exchanger on the exhaust side.
I also used this type of filter foam to cover the two intake vents for our whole house ventilation
ducts, for the forced air heat system. (Actually I removed the intake grills, and found I could fit filter
foam inside that location.) I first covered the internal duct with hardware cloth (which is a wire mesh).
I put the filter foam against that wire mesh. The intake air must then flow through the filter foam, before
it enters the ductwork. Now when I clean the furnace filter I clean 3 filters: both of the intake filters
AND the regular filter inside the air handling unit of the forced air heater / air conditioner. The extra
intake filters block additional dust from entering the forced air ductwork of the house.

* Tjernlund Products, 1601 Ninth St., White Bear Lake, MN 55110-6794

Additional Data on Ventilation

Infiltration of Outside Air


In many houses there is a significant amount of leakage of outside air. The outdoor air
leaks into the house through any crack or crevice of the wall, floor, or ceiling or the air passes
directly through porous wall sections. This leakage of outside air into a building is referred to as
infiltration. When driven by even mild winds (fifteen miles per hour), a conventional home can
undergo one to four complete changes of air in one hour.1 Infiltration makes a house feel drafty
and uncomfortable in winter and significantly increases the heating bill, since heated air is forced
out with infiltration. Exfiltration is the term describing heated air forced out of a building.
By contrast, a well sealed home can undergo one air change in two hours (one-half air
change per hour). With the use of a continuous vapor barrier surrounding the living area and
properly sealed doors and windows there can be less than one air change every 12 to 24 hours
(less than 0.1 air changes per hour).
In the early years of energy efficient buildings, reduction of infiltration and improvement
of the level of insulation made homes far more economical to heat. Before long it was found
that there were side effects of having a home extremely well sealed. The first effect, obvious
within hours, is the tendency for water vapor to collect inside the home. High water vapor
content in the air can be suspected when moisture condenses on double-pane windows. Other
side effects occur over time as the occupants breathe contaminants and germs trapped in stale
inside air.
Such indoor air pollution is typically worse than outdoor air quality. The pollution can
come from a variety of sources: carbon monoxide from incomplete combustion of stoves or
heaters, carbon monoxide and other by-products from smokers, chemicals emitted from new
building materials, excessive water vapors, radon from the soil and some masonry building
materials, and other miscellaneous contaminants. Radon, a dangerous radioactive gas from
uranium, can be present in soil anywhere. As well as getting into some building materials, it can
enter homes through foundation cracks, porous cement, sump pump drains, pipes entering the
foundation, and well water. A thoroughly ventilated crawl space below a well-sealed floor
eliminates most sources of radon entering the house. Radon is second only to smoking as a
cause of lung cancer. 12 If the degree of infiltration is less than 0.25 to 0.5 air changes per hour,
then the building will tend to have a higher concentration of contaminants than is healthy.
Infiltration is the only source of fresh air in conventional homes. Forceful winds cause fast rates
of infiltration; minimal winds result in too little infiltration. Therefore, infiltration is not a
reliable way to get a consistent supply of fresh air even in conventional homes. Infiltration with
conventional homes is related to the speed of the wind, not to the amount of contaminated air.
It is necessary to have a good vapor barrier to keep moisture from condensing inside the
insulation of walls, floors, and ceilings. A properly installed vapor barrier will block much of
the infiltration. It may then be necessary to ventilate the house to provide the needed fresh air.

Energy Conservation in Housing

Ventilation
Ventilation means bringing fresh air into a building and exhausting the stale air to the
outdoors in a controlled fashion. Fresh air is easily provided by opening windows, which
increases the heating bill and causes drafts in cold weather. Another approach is to bring outside
air in through the furnace cold air duct, allowing the air to be heated on its way inside the house.
Specific areas of the house should be ventilated to remove moisture, odors, and contaminants.
Usually the kitchen, laundry room, and bathrooms should have air exhausted to the outdoors.
Exhaust fans have a difficult time getting enough replacement air to vent adequately in a tight
house. Instead of opening a window to feed the exhaust fan, it is preferable to provide the
needed fresh air using a special type of whole-house ventilator.

The air-to-air heat exchanger


A whole-house ventilation system provides fresh air while stale air is exhausted. All
exhaust air is vented to one point and fresh air is brought in at another point. By bringing hot
stale air in close proximity to the incoming cold fresh air, it is possible to exchange the heat
between the two streams of air. In this way, the outgoing air heats the incoming air. Since this
heat is extracted from the outgoing air, it is a way to get fresh air without having to heat the air to
reach room temperature. Such a device is known as a Heat Recovery Ventilator (HRV) or
perhaps more descriptively as an air-to-air heat exchanger.

Having a slow rate of continuous ventilation will provide fresh air as well as exhausting
contaminants from the house. The efficiency of the heat exchanger is a measure of its heat
recovery capability. The efficiency rating can range from 50% to 90% in models commercially
available. It is also possible to construct a homemade heat exchanger, although it takes a
significant amount of work. The commercial exchangers tend to be somewhat expensive,
although they pay back the cost over time when compared to merely opening a window for
ventilation or having leaky doors or windows to allow infiltration. A properly arranged vent
plan for an air-to-air heat exchanger places exhaust ducts in the bathrooms and kitchen while
providing fresh air ducts for all other rooms. This could eliminate the need for individual
bathroom and kitchen exhaust fans; the heat exchanger fans remove contaminated air and supply
fresh air. Another approach is to route the exhaust fan ducts from the bathrooms and kitchen
into an exhaust air chamber, which then leads into exhaust chamber of the air-to-air heat
exchanger.

Additional Data on Ventilation


Air supply ducts can be made by use of inside wall, ceiling, and floor cavities or by putting
actual ducts through these spaces, depending on requirements of the local building code.
Initially it was felt that supplying fresh air at one point in the house would allow even
ventilation. Although this may work for open floor plans, individual rooms do not receive an
adequate supply of fresh air.
It might seem a good idea to add the fresh air to the cold air inlet of the forced air heating
system. There are two problems with this: 1) The fan power of the furnace is much stronger than
the heat exchanger fans. This would cause a tremendous imbalance of the airflow through the
exchanger. 2) In an energy efficient home, the forced air ventilation system runs so infrequently
that it would not adequately circulate ventilation air. Some heat exchanger companies
recommend turning the forced air fan to the "on" position whenever the exchanger is operational
so that fresh air from the heat exchanger is properly distributed. This technique will suffice, but
much electricity is required for the frequent operation of the high-powered furnace blower. In
the long run, it is more cost-effective to install fresh air ducts for the heat exchanger vent system
instead of using the ducts of the heating system to mix the fresh air within the house.
If one retrofits a heat exchanger in an existing house, duct booster fans mounted in the
forced air heating system ducts could be used to provide adequate mixing of the house air. Duct
boosters have low power consumption (e.g. 25 watts for 200 cubic feet per minute airflow); if
strategically placed in the heating ducts, two of these fans operating continuously might provide
adequate mixing of house air. The duct boosters could maintain continual airflow throughout the
house, mixing the air without continual operation of the high-powered furnace blower.

Energy Conservation in Housing

Part Three

HOUSE VENTILATION
Fresh Air for Tightly
Constructed Homes

Evaluating Air-to-Air Heat Exchangers


Integral to the fresh air needs of new, well-insulated homes is ventilation to replace
infiltration (which has been minimized). Ventilation of cold outside air into the home is
unpleasant if the air is not heated in advance. When the outdoor temperatures are low, the most
economical method of getting fresh air is by use of an air-to-air heat exchanger. This device has
been also termed a Heat Recovery Ventilator (HRV). In this text I will use the terms air-to-air
Heat Exchangers, or Heat Exchangers or Heat Recovery Ventilators (HRVs) all to describe
the same type of device.
Heat exchangers extract heat from the outgoing air and transfer it to the incoming air.
Although schematic diagrams of the exchanger make it seem simple and inexpensive, quite the
opposite is the case. As of 1989 prices, heat exchangers cost from $400 to $1,500. The price of
an exchanger is not necessarily related to heat recovery efficiency.
A heat exchanger is a relatively new product designed to fill a new need. Many
companies market various types of heat exchangers. It is difficult to find the most suitable
model with so many varieties to chose from.

Counterflow and crossflow heat exchangers


There are two types of fixed plate heat exchangers: crossflow and counterflow. These
usually have parallel surface membranes between which air is passed. Intake air is on one side
of the plate, and exhaust air is on the other side.

The counterflow exchanger routes the exhaust and intake air through the exchanger in
opposite directions.

Additional Data on Ventilation


By having a long course through which the air can travel, the heat is readily exchanged between
the two streams of air. A short distance of air stream overlap usually means lower heat recovery.
Some counterflow models have very long heat exchange cores, up to 8 feet in length, while other
counterflow models have barely a 2-foot core length. A short counterflow model can end up
very efficient if it has a lot of surface area for heat transfer. A long counterflow model might
have less surface area over a much longer distance.

The typical crossflow heat exchanger schematic diagrams show the air streams passing at
right angles to each other; significantly more than 60% efficiency cannot be expected. A singlepass crossflow exchanger would require enormous amounts of heat-transfer area and a very slow
airflow rate to get high efficiency. Using the crossflow design, higher heat recovery is more
effectively obtained by a double-pass crossflow core.

Energy Conservation in Housing

Double-pass crossflow models, routing the air in two passes through the heat exchanger
core before exiting, give better efficiency. Single-pass crossflow models can be expected to get
50 to 55% heat recovery, although some companies claim their single-pass models get 75% heat
recovery. If the exchanger is made to have the air routed through in a double-pass, the first pass
recovers 53% of the heat and the second pass through the other heat exchange element recovers
53% of the remaining heat (0.53 x 0.47 = about 0.25). This results in about 78% heat recovered
for the two passes (0.53 + 0.25 = 0.78).
By lengthening the separation between the ports, the crossflow and counterflow models
begin to resemble each other. Indeed, there can be combinations of the crossflow and
counterflow designs.

The final efficiency of a heat exchanger is determined by a number of factors: the


arrangement of the heat exchange plates, the total surface area available for heat exchange, and
the rate of airflow. A fast airflow rate will usually decrease efficiency. The actual details of the
internal airflow through the exchanger will help determine the effectiveness. The heat exchange
plates should be impervious to air and moisture. There should be essentially no cross-leakage,
no mixing of intake and exhaust airflows.
Single-pass crossflow heat exchangers can be expected to have lower efficiency than
double-pass crossflow or most counterflow exchangers. Counterflow and crossflow models can
obtain better efficiency by an increase of exchange area and by having a longer distance of air
travel within the exchanger core. Related to these fixed plate designs are exchangers using
tubes for the heat transfer surface.

Additional Data on Ventilation

Heat pipe type of heat exchangers

The heat pipe exchanger transfers heat from one stream of air to the other by way of
conductive pipes extending from the exhaust to the intake air streams. Inside the heat pipes is
some form of refrigerant fluid, such as Freon, to transfer the heat from one side to the other.

Rotary heat exchangers

The turning wheel picks up the heat from the outgoing stream and transfers
it to the cold stream about one-half rotation later. Redrawn from "HeatRecovery Ventilators," Consumer Reports (October 1985).

The rotary heat exchanger has a slowly turning heat recovery wheel that picks up heat
from one stream of air and transfers it to the opposing stream about one-half rotation later. The
rotary types range from small home models with a 16-inch-diameter exchange wheel, to huge
industrial exchangers with up to a 13-foot-diameter exchange wheel.

Energy Conservation in Housing


The rotary exchange wheel transfers heat between the air stream as well as transferring some
moisture (and its latent heat). Recovery of moisture, therefore, increases the overall recovery of
heat. Rotary types of heat exchangers must be engineered carefully to prevent cross-leakage of
air. As the wheel rotates from the exhaust air to the clean air, some of the contaminated air can
re-enter the building.
Most heat exchanger types recover "sensible heat" (heat that can be sensed by touch or
measured by a thermometer). "Latent heat" is the heat of fusion or vaporization of water. If a
home has air that is too dry, using a humidifier to add moisture to the air will consume additional
heat to change the water into the vapor state. As water vapor is recovered by an exchanger, the
latent heat of vaporization is also recovered. These types of devices have been termed Energy
Recovery Ventilators (ERVs). Not only do they recover sensible heat but latent heat as well.
With very tightly constructed homes the objective is to remove contaminated air and
typically to remove excess moisture. Most heat exchanger companies emphasize that their
models allow no cross-leakage of the two air streams and no moisture transfer. Rotary heat
exchanger companies and other ERV products emphasize that exchanging moisture with the
incoming air is a good feature of their product. It is hard to know whether moisture removal or
recovery is the better feature for all applications. If the inside air tends to be too dry, then
moisture recovery is preferable. However, if the inside air is already too humid, recovery of
water vapor does more harm than good. Heat Recover Ventilators (HRVs) are designed to
recover sensible heat and to exhaust accumulated moisture (which is most important for cold
climates). Energy Recovery Ventilators (ERVs) are designed to recover latent heat as well,
which is apparently more useful for air conditioning in hot, humid climates.
The October 1985 issue of Consumer Reports included a review of air-to-air heat
exchangers. The Consumer Union obtained specific models of exchangers to test for efficiency
of heat recovery at two temperatures (5 F and 45 F). Airflow capability, cross-leakage, type of
recovery unit, size, price, and overall ratings of five whole-house units and two window models
were compared. The rated efficiencies were from 15% to 71% heat recovery. The best three
units were marginally acceptable (38% to 71%) even at their lowest airflow rates (42 to 89 cubic
feet per minute). Prices of the best three units ranged from $540 to $1,161. The window/wall
models had approximately 50% efficiency, with an airflow capacity too low to be effective for a
superinsulated house. The performance of one exchanger seemed extremely poor (15% to 19%).
In general, Consumer Reports recommended obtaining fresh air by using an exhaust fan or
opening windows; the cost of heating the ventilation air did not justify use of a heat exchanger.
A heat recovery ventilator was recommended only under certain conditions: for extremely tight
houses in extremely cold climates or where unusual problems existed, such as with radon
pollution or chemical contaminants in the home.25
The problem with new, tightly constructed homes is that exhaust fans alone cannot result
in proper air quality. Since fresh air must be introduced, the house is much more comfortable
when the air is pre-warmed. Calculations from the section "Heating Costs for the Year"
demonstrate the cost of heating fresh air with and without use of a heat exchanger. The figures
show the cost of heating ventilation air without a heat exchanger to be about $80 per year using
gas heat. (Compare examples 3 and 4 for Duluth, Minnesota.) However, the same size house
without a heat exchanger, having a full-length basement, and using 1.0 air changes per hour
would have an annual cost for heating ventilation air of over $300 per year. (Calculations are
based on gas heat @ $0.44 per 100 cubic foot; if only electric heat is available, the annual costs
would be over $1,000/year.) The following factors affect the cost of heating ventilation air: the
house size, the ventilation rate, the coldness of the climate, and the cost per BTU of heat. In the
most extreme conditions, an air-to-air heat exchanger can recover sufficient heat from exhaust
air to save hundreds of dollars per year, based on gas heating costs.

Additional Data on Ventilation


Considerable variation may exist between claimed and actual efficiency of heat exchanger
types. Different companies market similar heat exchangers; if one company claims 75%
efficiency and a different company's comparable model claims 55% efficiency, it leads one to
doubt the claims.
Power consumption of the heat exchanger fans should also be considered. For heat
exchanger models operating continuously for 180 days per year, 65 watts power consumption
will use about $20 worth of electricity; 300 watts power consumption will use about $90 worth
of electricity (at $0.07 per kilowatt-hour).
Most companies provide accessories to improve exchanger performance. Some models
compensate for incomplete heat recovery by adding an electric pre-heater. With such a device,
the air going into the house is heated to 100% of room temperature by electrical resistance heat
after it leaves the heat exchanger. One rotary model preheats air going to the exchanger core to
prevent core freezing when outside temperatures are too low. Many models have a defrost cycle,
and most provide a way for condensed moisture to be removed from the exchanger.
The exchanger selected should be able to supply the fresh air needs of the home (about 0.5
air changes per hour) on the lower speed fan setting. As an example: a single-story 1,500 square
foot house with 8 foot ceilings has 12,000 cubic feet of air, which is one air change for this size
house; half of that is 6,000 cubic feet. An exchanger with a 100 cubic feet per minute (cfm)
capacity would move 6,000 cubic feet per hour. Larger quantities of contaminated air are
removed by switching the exchanger to the high-speed fan setting, especially useful when
combustion is taking place (cooking, smoking, or fireplace use). Contaminated air is exhausted
from the bathrooms and kitchen as fresh air is introduced by ductwork into the other rooms of
the house. Ventilation standards from the American Society of Heating, Refrigerating, and Air
Conditioning Engineers, Inc. (ASHRAE), recommend exhaust ventilation of 50 cfm capacity for
bathrooms and 100 cfm for kitchens; this is usually supplied by manually operated exhaust
vents, used when the need arises. Continuous ventilation by heat exchanger ducts provide less
peak airflow although better effective ventilation, since the occupants do not shut off the
ventilation system. ASHRAE further recommends a continuous fresh air supply of 10 cfm to
each room of the house.13 This is best achieved by providing exhaust vents for the bathroom,
kitchen, and laundry and fresh air ducts for all other rooms of the house.
Most heat exchanger companies provide installation instructions for the heat exchanger,
including flow balancing. If the exhaust and intake ductwork causes unequal resistance to
airflow, the house will be slightly de-pressurized (if outflow is greater) or pressurized (if inflow
is greater). Dampers in the ductwork must then be adjusted to equalize the airflow. If unequal,
there will be increased rates of infiltration every time a window or door is opened, as well as
driving infiltration through any breaks in the vapor barrier.
Although there are heat exchanger models on the market that are well-designed, efficient,
and reasonably economical, it may be difficult to find the most suitable model.
The following pages detail an exhaustive mailing research project I did on air-to-air heat
exchangers in 1988. Less than 2 years later, I re-contacted the companies and found many had
moved, changed names, and changed products. Some had apparently completely gone out of
business, as I could find no forwarding address. (At this time in life, it is possible to conduct an
Internet search for such products, for those companies that list their products on the web.)
Being a do-it-myself person, I felt I could do a good job designing and making my own.
In 1988, I figured how to make such a homemade model from hardware store products.

Energy Conservation in Housing


Since late 1988 (though 2003), I have had my homemade heat exchanger in use in my home. I
have placed my recipe for my version in the section of this book on homemade air-to-air heat
exchangers.

Summary of Data on Commercially


Available Heat Exchangers
Comments about 1989 data: The following pages list a number of companies marketing or
manufacturing air-to-air heat exchangers. During a 24-month period (1987-1989), I had witnessed
significant changes in the availability of products from some of the companies. New products were
added, formerly available products were deleted, companies changed hands, and some companies went
out of production. This is not intended to be an all-inclusive list of every exchanger type available; the
listed data are subject to change over time and with market forces.
Abbreviations: s.p. crossflow = single-pass crossflow; d.p. crossflow = double-pass crossflow;
Cross/counter = exchanger may be rated by the company as one model or the other, although the airflow
pattern, judged by diagrams received from the company, appears to be a combination of the two different
types of flow, i.e. a short counterflow model resembles a crossflow model and an elongated crossflow
model may be partially counterflow. Power Used = electrical power in watts (W) or amperes (A) used by
the fan motors with the fan on the high setting. Some of the smaller exchanger models use one motor to
turn two centrifugal blower wheels for the exhaust and intake air streams. In larger-capacity units,
invariably two motors are needed and the power consumption increases. Some of the models locate the
blower motors within the air stream, so heat given off by the motor is added to the fresh air stream,
raising the exchanger effectiveness. The designation N/A = a value not applicable. N/A is used to refer
to cores only, which have no fans, thereby no power consumption quantity can be assigned. Most airflow
rates listed are values with no resistance from ductwork; as ductwork is added, resistance is added. One
exchanger rated at 140 cfm reduces to 119 cfm with a moderate amount of air resistance (e.g. 0.4" static
pressure). Efficiency ratings are from company literature. Some companies explain the efficiency at
various airflow rates, outside temperatures, and inside relative humidity; other companies state only one
efficiency rating. One heat exchanger company claims 70% efficiency, but when tested by Consumer
Reports was given an efficiency rating of 38 to 55%. 25 The buyer should be cautious and not necessarily
accept heat recovery claims as completely accurate.
September 2003 comments: I did a search for Heat Recovery Ventilators on the Internet. I also did
a search of the companies I listed from 1989. Of the 17 listed companies for 1989, there were still several
of the same names, still manufacturing Heat Recovery Ventilators (HRVs). There may be others of these
companies from 1989 that do not have a functional web-site, or have changed their name. I found more
than a dozen other HRV companies (within the first 100 web-sites I searched), which are listed below.
There were over 4,000 entries that I found on my Internet search for Heat Recovery Ventilators. These
Internet entries included manufacturers, suppliers, installers, and general information on the topic.
I believe that by studying my text on this subject (and also reviewing the data on the HRVs from
1989), you can understand the theories of how air-to-air heat exchangers work. This can help you
understand the basic types and forms of these devices, and be better able to know what you are looking at
when investigating the products of specific companies.
Heat Recover Ventilators (HRVs) are designed to recover sensible heat and to exhaust accumulated
moisture (which is most important for cold climates).
Energy Recovery Ventilators (ERVs) are designed to recover latent heat as well, which is
apparently more useful for air conditioning in hot, humid climates.

Additional Data on Ventilation


The following are HRV and ERV companies I found on my Sept 2003 Internet search.
1. Airxchange; 85 Longwater Drive; Rockland, MA 02370; Ph: 781-871-4816. Markets rotary HRVs.
(See this company under my 1989 listings.)
2. American Energy Exchange, Inc.; 5737 East Cork Street; Kalamazoo, MI, 49048; Ph: 269-383-9200.
Markets large capacity HRVs (1,000 cfm to 30,000 cfm heat wheel recovery (rotary version), flat
plate versions (single and double-pass crossflow HRVs with aluminum cores) and heat pipe versions.
3. American Aldes Ventilation Corporation. (See this company under my 1989 listings also.) Markets
single-pass and double-pass crossflow HRVs with aluminum cores.
4. Broan. Markets single-pass crossflow HRVs. Phone: 1-800-558-1711; Broan-NuTone, LLC.; P.O.
Box 140; Hartford, WI 53027. (See my listings for this company under ventilation products,

pg 142-144.)
5. Bryant Heat Recovery Ventilators. (No technical details of the products were shown on the web-site.)
(esshvac.com)

6. Carrier makes two different versions of ERVs for residential use. These appear to be single-pass
crossflow cores, designed for enthalpic energy and moisture recovery. Carrier is a widely-know
company with dealers throughout the USA.
7. Chester Dawe. Markets at least one type of HRV (KMH-150 Heat Recovery Ventilator). Many
locations in Canada. One such address: 1297 Topsail Road; P.O. Box 8280; St. John's, NF; A1B
3N4; (709) 782-3104
8. Chris Smith HVAC, Inc. Markets HRVs with single-pass aluminum crossflow cores. (cshvac.com)
9. Cleanaire. Markets single-pass crossflow HRVs. Avon Electric Ltd.; Christchurch, New Zealand. Ph
0800 379247
10. Eco Air 56 Bay Road; Taren Point, NSW 2229; Australia. Markets counterflow HRVs with
aluminum core. Ph: 61 2 9526 2133
11. Fantech; 1712 Northgate Boulevard; Sarasota, Florida 34234; 1-800-747-1762. Markets single pass
crossflow HRVs with polypropylene core
12. Grantair Technologies; 1470, Rome Blvd.; Brossard; (Quebec) J4W 2T4; Canada. Markets
residential HRVs and other products.
13. Heatilator Home Products; Hearth & Home Technologies; 1915 W. Saunders Street; Mt. Pleasant, IA
52641; (877-427-8368). Markets single-pass crossflow HRVs with aluminum cores and models of
ERVs.
14. Honeywell makes two different versions of single-pass crossflow HRVs with aluminum cores and
crossflow ERVs. These are marketed and installed by various companies, which can be found by
Internet search under Honeywell HRVs.
15. Kiltox Damp Free Solutions; 27 Park Row; Greenwich SE109NL; United Kingdom. Markets HRVs.
16. Lifebreath appears to be single-pass crossflow HRVs with aluminum core. Indoor Air Quality
Distributors; 83 Galaxy Blvd., Unit 19 ; Toronto, Ontario M9W 5X6; Canada (416) 674-7525; 1-877839-3036
17. Newtone Home Heat Recovery Ventilators, ph 800-525-7194. Appears to be single-pass crossflow
cores with enthalpic transfer (moisture absorbing/transmitting exchange plates).
18. Nu-Air Ventilation Systems; Newport, Nova Scotia; Canada, B0N 2A0; (902) 757-1910. Markets
HRVs, which appear to be single-pass crossflow cores (aluminum or plastic, depending on the
model).
19. Raydot, Inc.; 145 Jackson Avenue; Cokato, MN 55321; 800/328-3813 or 320/286-2103. Markets
HRVs for agricultural, industrial, and residential uses. (See this company under my 1989 listings.)
20. RenewAire (formerly Lossnay). Markets HRVs, which appear to be single-pass crossflow HRVs
with moisture absorbing/transmitting exchange plates. Sound Geothermal Corporation; Rt. # 3 Box
3010; Roosevelt, UT 84066; ph 435-722-5877
21. Summeraire. Markets residential HRVs. Appears to be single-pass crossflow design.
22. Venmar Heat Recovery Ventilators; Thermal Associates; 21 Thomson Ave.; Glens Falls, NY 12801;
1-800-654-8263; 518-798-5500. Markets HRVs, which appear to be single-pass crossflow, with a
polypropylene core.
23. Xetex, ph. 612-724-3101. Markets flat plate heat exchangers typically with aluminum cores and
rotary models. (See this company under my 1989 listings.)

Energy Conservation in Housing

Summary of Data on Commercially Available Heat Exchangers (January 1989)


Company
Model no.
ACS - Hoval
PC-130-140
PC-130-250
PC-230-140
PC-230-250

Type of
core

Maximum
capacity

% Heat
recovery

Power
used

Length

(Numerous aluminum crossflow cores also available in many sizes)


s.p. crossflow
140 cfm
60-75%
120 W
47"
s.p. crossflow
250 cfm
60-75%
213 W
47"
d.p. crossflow
140 cfm
75-90%
120 W
67"
d.p. crossflow
250 cfm
75-90%
213 W
67"

Height

Width

1989
Price

18"
18"
18"
18"

12"
12"
12"
12"

$920
$1137
$1238
$1457

Air Changer Marketing: See Memphremagog listings


AirXchange
Model 570
Model 502

rotary
rotary

American Aldes
VMP H3/5
cross/counter
VMP H4/8
cross/counter

70 cfm
200 cfm

75-80%
75-80%

55 W
145 W

22"
29"

13"
17.5"

7.5"
10"

$438
$578

140 cfm
180 cfm

70%
70%

1.75 A
1.75 A

53.5"
53.5"

20"
20"

11.5"
11.5"

$979
$1015

N/A

57.5"

25"

8"

$220

1.3 A

18"

14"

12.5"

$290

N/A

12"

12"

12"

$290

Aston Industries (many sizes of aluminum cores are available)


Thermatube 2300
(core only)
counterflow
200 cfm
70%
Aston 2000 exhaust ventilator
(blower only)
N/A
Aston 2412
(core only)
s.p. crossflow
150 cfm
52%
Two Aston 2412
cores (no blower)
d.p. crossflow
150 cfm
77%

N/A

Berner Air Products


AQ Plus+
counterflow*
165
82%
370W
* This is not a standard counterflow unit. see the text narrative on Berner for details.

$580

28"

17"

11"

$820

Crown Industries (EZE-Breathe exchangers formerly sold by Ener-Quip, Inc.)


RHR 100
cross/counter
100 cfm
70%
48 W
RHR 200
cross/counter
200 cfm
70%
58 W
RHR 400
cross/counter
400 cfm
70%
72 W

46"
46"
46"

8.3"
11.3"
14.3"

14"
18"
26"

$682
$764
$999

Des Champs Laboratories


Series 175
window model
EZV-210
counter/cross
EZV-220
counter/cross
EZV-240
counter/cross
EZV-310
counterflow
EZV-320
counterflow
EZV-340
counterflow

75 cfm
150 cfm
240 cfm
430 cfm
145 cfm
220 cfm
415 cfm

75%
73%
72%
85%
84%
83%

0.8 A
1.5 A
3.0 A
0.8 A
1.5 A
3.0 A

46"
46"
49"
58"
58"
61"

19"
19"
19"
19"
19"
19"

14"
14"
18"
14"
14"
18"

$357
$735
$795
$970
$805
$880
$1100

Enermatrix
EMX 10
EMX 15
EMX 20
EMX 25

103 cfm
103 cfm
121 cfm
250 cfm

75%
75%
75%
80%

2.11 A
2.11 A
2.11 A
2.42 A

28"
28"
28"
60"

18"
18"
18"
18"

13"
13"
13"
13.5"

$399
$429
$479
$899

Cargocaire
Large industrial-sized heat exchangers available in the rotary style

s.p. crossflow
s.p. crossflow
s.p. crossflow
d.p. crossflow

Additional Data on Ventilation


% Heat
recovery

Power
used

Length

Height

76%
78%

84 W
260 W

60"
66"

25"
30"

15"
15"

$950
$1130

Mountain Energy & Resources, Inc. (makes heat pipe exchangers similar to QDT, Ltd.)
MER-150
heat pipe
160 cfm
70%
100 W
24"
MER-300
heat pipe
235 cfm
70%
180 W
26"

24"
32"

7"
13.5"

$585
$1085

NewAire
HE-1800c
HE-2500
HE-5000

s.p. crossflow
s.p. crossflow
s.p. crossflow

70 cfm
110 cfm
210 cfm

73%
78%
78%

55 W
120 W
240 W

18"
30"
30"

18"
20"
20"

13"
12"
21"

$420
$535
$795

QDT, Ltd.
SAE-150

heat pipe

150 cfm

70%

236 W

29"

22"

12.5"

$629

Raydot
RD-225-H
RD-150-H
RD-90-H
RD-225-V
RD-150-V

counterflow
counterflow
counterflow
counterflow
counterflow

225 cfm
150 cfm
90 cfm
225 cfm
150 cfm

63-82%
66-82%
71-86%
61-78%
63-79%

240 W
150 W
90 W
240 W
150 W

96"
96"
92"
14"
14"

17"
17"
9"
59"
59"

8"
8"
9"
14"
14"

$846
$728
$629
$867
$752

Snappy ; Standex Energy Systems


MA 110
s.p. crossflow
MA 240
s.p. crossflow

110 cfm
240 cfm

77%
70%

50 W 17.5"
100 W 22"

17.5"
23"

7.5"
8.5"

$550
$597

Star Heat Exchangers


Nova
counterflow
Model 165
counterflow
Model 200
counterflow
Model 300
counterflow

70 cfm
165 cfm
200 cfm
300 cfm

65%
80%
80%
80%

34 W
66 W
66 W
132 W

25"
39"
39"
39"

16"
12.5"
25"
25"

7.5"
15"
15"
15"

$307
$620
$770
$960

Xetex
HX-50
HX-150
HX-200
HX-250
HX-350

51 cfm
119 cfm
182 cfm
279 cfm
377 cfm

62%
80%
80%
80%
80%

74 W
80 W
120 W
125 W
157 W

11.5"
18"
25.5"
18"
25.5"

19"
24"
24.5"
32"
40"

7"
12.5"
12.7"
22"
22"

$395
$788
$902
$1242
$1533

Company
Model no.

Type of
core

Maximum
capacity

Memphremagog and Air Changer Marketing


DR-150
counterflow
120 cfm
DR-275
counterflow
200 cfm

s.p. crossflow
d.p. crossflow
d.p. crossflow
d.p. crossflow
d.p. crossflow

Width

Air-to-Air Heat Exchangers:


List of Selected Commercial Companies
January 1989
ACS-Hoval, 935 Lively Boulevard, Wood Dale, IL 60191-2685, (312) 860-6800 or (800)323-5618.
Markets a number of sizes of crossflow heat exchangers. The exchangers and cores are constructed of
aluminum plates. The joints are sealed so as to prevent any cross-contamination of the two air streams.
The standard high-efficiency models are a single-pass crossflow design rated from 60-75%. The ultrahigh-efficiency models route the air through the exchanger in a double-pass crossflow pattern, raising the
efficiency to between 75 and 90%. The standard efficiency models are rated at 140 cfm (PC-130-140,
120 watts) and 250 cfm (PC-130-250, 213 watts). Both standard models have total dimensions of 47" x
18" x 12" (including blowers).

1989
Price

Energy Conservation in Housing


(ACS-Hoval, continued): The ultra-high-efficiency models are rated at 140 cfm (PC-230-140, 120
watts) and 250 cfm (PC-230-250, 213 watts). Both ultra models have total dimensions of 67" x 18" x
12" (including blowers). ACS Hoval also makes heat exchange cores for other commercial and home
applications, with dozens of potential sizes available. Their heat recouperators are made to be mounted
in exhaust ducts from ovens and furnaces to recover up to 75% of the heat from these high-temperature
exhaust gases. Prices: PC-130-140: $920; PC-130-250: $1,137; PC-230-140: $1,238; PC-230-250:
$1,457.
Air Changer Marketing, 1297 Industrial Road, Cambridge, Ontario N3H-4T8, Canada, (519) 653-7129.
Markets two different models of counterflow heat exchangers (DR2000 series). See Memphramagog
write-up for the details.
AirXchange, Inc., 401 VFW Drive, Rockland, MA 02370, ph (617)871-4816. Manufactures rotary type
heat exchangers. Rotary-wheel cores are available in interchangeable sensible and enthalpy (dessicantcoated) versions. Enthalpy wheels are recommended for cooling applications and for heating applications
where retention of some humidity is desirable. Model 570: 80% heat recovery; 22 " x 12 5/8" x 7 ";
70 cfm capacity; 55 watts; 4-inch ducts; available in wall-mounted and ceiling-mounted units. Model
502: 75% to 80% heat recovery; 29" x 17 " x 10"; 200 cfm capacity, 145 watts; whole house unit
for floor, ceiling, or basement installation; 7-inch ducts; a variety of accessories such as grilles, airflow
balancing grids, and intake/exhaust fittings are also available. Depending on the exchanger features and
the accessories selected, the prices for these exchangers are: Model 570: $438 - 623; Model 502: $578 917.
American Aldes Ventilation Corporation, 4539 Northgate Court, Sarasota, FL 34234, (813) 351-3441.
Markets heat exchangers of a combined counterflow and crossflow airflow pattern; 70% heat recovery
at 90 cfm; polyvinyl chloride parallel plate core; condensate drain; core size 38.5" long x 20" x 11.5";
160 square foot exchange area; blower unit is 15" x 15" x 18" with 6-inch ducts and 1.75 amps. Model
VMP H3/5: 90 cfm or 140 cfm fan setting. Model VMP H4/8: 130 or 180 cfm fan setting. Other, more
sophisticated heat exchangers are available (VMP-I). A simpler heat exchanger is available (VMP-A).
The exchanger kits include self-balancing airflow controllers that provide constant airflow and eliminate
the need to balance the airflow for the house. The company also carries other types of heat exchanger
cores, exhaust ventilators, and numerous accessories. The listed prices typically include most of the
accessories needed for installation. Prices: VMP H3/5: $979; VMP H4/6: $997; VMP H4/8: $1015;
VMP-A: $667; VMP-I 5/7: $1,395.
Aston Industries, Inc., P.O. Box 220, St-Leonard d'Aston, Quebec, Canada, JOC-1M0, (819)399-2175.
Markets aluminum crossflow cores and a counterflow heat exchanger core (Thermatube 2300). The
counterflow (thermatube) heat exchanger vents the stale air through glass pipes in the exchanger. The
incoming fresh air is made to pass around the glass pipes to pick up the heat. Capacity is up to 200
cfm, with up to 70% heat recovery, has drain for condensate. Dimensions: 57.5" long x 25" x 8". The
Thermatube 2300 uses the Aston 2000 ventilator module as the blower source for exhaust; 1.3 amps.
It apparently does not use a blower for the fresh air return; the return air must enter by the negative air
pressure created by the exhaust fan. The aluminum crossflow cores (Aston 2400 series) can be obtained
in 150 different sizes from the smallest size: 12" x 12" x 4" (40 to 160 cfm) to the largest size: 48" x 48"
x 84" high (up to 24,000 cfm). The aluminum crossflow cores can be hooked up serially to get a doublepass arrangement, if desired. A basic crossflow core will have about 52% heat recovery. With two cores
hooked up in a double pass arrangement, the efficiency rises to 77%. Prices: Thermatube core: $220;
Aston 2000 blower: $290; Aston 2400 core: $290.

Additional Data on Ventilation


Berner Air Products Inc., P.O. Box 5410, New Castle, PA 16105, (800) 852-5015 or (412)658-3551.
Berner previously marketed rotary heat exchangers, but has switched to a counterflow model, the
AQ Plus+. Different from other counterflow exchangers, the AQ Plus+ routes supply air through the
exchanger core for a 3-second time period; it then reverses the airflow sending exhaust air through
the exchanger core for another 3 seconds. The counterflow element is constructed of aluminum foil
with a hydroscopic coating for latent-heat (and moisture) recovery. In addition to the counterflow heat
exchanger element, the unit employs three filters to eliminate indoor air pollutants and allergens. The
unit continuously filters (and returns) the room air while performing the separate functions of exhausting
a portion of the room air and supplying fresh air. The unit is sold as a "through-the-wall" installation. It
has a variable speed blower, ranging from 60 to 165 cfm; 370 watts maximum; 27.5" x 17" x 11"; 82%
heat recovery on the high setting. Price: AQ Plus+: $820.
Cargocaire Engineering Corporation, Senex Division, 216 New Boston Street, Woburn, MA 01801, (617)
933-9010. Markets large capacity industrial heat recovery systems of 500 cfm to 40,000 cfm; rotary type,
with rotary heat exchange element that can be 2.3 to 14 feet in diameter; 75% heat recovery; all units too
large for home use.
Crown Industries, 2101 E. Allegheny Avenue, Philadelphia, PA 19134, (215)423-8900. This company
markets three different sizes of heat exchangers of a combined counterflow and crossflow design, having
aluminum heat exchange plates: EZE-BREATHE heat recovery ventilators RHR 100, RHR 200, and
RHR 400 (these exchangers were formerly marketed by "Ener-quip", Inc). All have about 70% heat
recovery, with two fans, filters, condensate drain, and necessary controls. RHR 100: 100 cfm airflow; 48
watts; 46" x 8.3" x 14", with 4-inch ducts. RHR 200: 200 cfm airflow; 58 watts; 46" x 11.3" x 18", with
5.5-inch ducts. RHR 400: 400 cfm airflow; 72 watts; 46" x 14.3" x 26", with 9-inch ducts. Prices: RHR
100: $682; RHR 200: $764; RHR 400: $999.
Des Champs Laboratories, Inc., Box 440, 17 Farinella Drive, East Hanover, NJ 07936, (201)8841460. E-Z-VENT heat exchangers. Markets more than 8 different home models of heat exchangers,
counterflow (but a relatively short core length); aluminum heat exchange elements; 2-speed blowers;
filters; condensate drains. Series 175 exchangers are rated at 75 cfm for single-room use. Series 200
models: 3 models ranging from 150 cfm to 430 cfm; 72 to 75% heat recovery; 24-inch length of core;
with blowers, the full dimensions are: 46" x 19" x 14" (smaller size) to 49" x 19" x 18" (larger size);
large amount of exchange area is compacted into the core (286 to 382 square feet). Series 300 models: 3
models ranging from 145 to 415 cfm; 83% to 85% heat recovery; 36-inch core length; with blowers, the
full dimensions are: 58" x 19" x 14" (smaller size) to 61" x 19" x 18" (larger size); 430 to 574 square feet
exchange area. The company plans to market a new model: EZ Vent II, 24" x 26" x 17", 240 cfm, $695.
The company also makes other models for commercial use of 615 to 2,200 cfm capacity. Prices: Series
175: $357; EZV-210: $735; EZV-220: $795; EZV-240: $970; EZV-310: $805; EZV-320: $880; EZV340: $1,100.
Enermatrix, Inc., P.O. Box 466, Fargo, ND 58107, (701)232-3330.
Markets single-pass crossflow
and double-pass crossflow heat exchangers, polypropylene core, with filters. EMX-10: 18" x 13" x 28"
(including blowers); 75% heat recovery; exhaust motor is of greater airflow than intake (113 cfm versus
90 cfm); 2.11 amps total; has condensate drain for both air streams; 4-inch duct size; no defrost cycle
(apparently not needed with the faster outgoing air). EMX-15 & EMX-20 are the same size as EMX10, but they have balanced airflows between intake and exhaust, auto defrost control. EMX-15: 90 cfm;
EMX-20: 113 cfm. EMX-25: separate blower housing (14" x 24" x 11") with 6-inch duct connections
to exchanger core (35" x 18" x 13"); 80% heat recovery; airflow is balanced between intake and exhaust
(about 250 cfm); 2.42 amps total; condensate drain; variable fan speed control; dehumidistat control; auto
defrost control. Prices: EMX-10: $399; EMX-15: $429; EMX-20: $479; EMX-25: $899.

Energy Conservation in Housing


Memphramagog Heat Exchangers, P.O. Box 456, Newport, VT 05855, (802)334-5412. Markets two
different models of counterflow heat exchangers (DR2000 series); core made from a polypropylene
polymer (coroplast, apparently); condensate drain; core size 50" long x 25" high x 15" thick, having 280
square feet of exchange area; cold air ducts are 6-inches in diameter; automatic defrost. To the basic
core is added one of two different warm end panels containing the blowers and controls. The Model
150 has axial fans and 6-inch ducts; 60 cfm or 120 cfm fan settings; 84 watts; this provides 76% heat
recovery at 117 cfm and outside temperature of 32 F; dimensions: 10" long x 25" x 15". Model 275 has
centrifugal fans with 7-inch oval ducts; 120 cfm or 200 cfm fan settings; 260 watts; this provides 78%
heat recovery at 117 cfm and outside temperature of 32F (at -13F, the heat recovery is 57% for these
models). Dimensions 16" long x 30" x 15"; the heat of the motors raises the intake temperature further,
giving an overall energy performance effectiveness of 81 to 94%. The manufacturer lists that under 2
or 3% cross-leakage can occur with these models. There is apparently no moisture transfer with these
models. Prices: Model 150 (DR-150): $950; model 275 (DR-275): $1,130.
Mountain Energy & Resources, Inc., 15800 West 6th Ave, Golden, CO 80401, (303) 279-4971. Heat
pipe exchanger with lower fan power consumption than the QDT model: MER 150: 24" x 24" x 7"; 70%
heat recovery; 100 watts total; 160 cfm at 0.25" static pressure. MER 300: 26" x 32" x 13.5"; 70% heat
recovery; 180 watts total; 235 cfm at 0.25" static pressure. Prices: MER 150: $585; MER 300: $1,085.
NewAire, 7009 Raywood Road, Madison, WI 53713, (608)221-4499. Markets three single-pass
crossflow heat exchangers. HE-1800c: 18" x 18" x 13"; 70 cfm; 55 watts; 6-inch duct connections; 73%
heat recovery; filters; no condensate drain required. HE-2500: 30" x 20" x 12"; 110 cfm; 120 watts;
6-inch duct connections; 78% recovery at 110cfm; resin-coated paper core by Mitsubishi or optional
polyethylene core; filters; can order condensate hook-ups as an option. HE-5000: 30" x 20" by 21"; 210
cfm air streams; 240 watts; 8-inch duct connections; resin-coated paper core or optional polyethylene;
78% heat recovery at 210 cfm; condensate drain as option. Prices: HE-1800c: $420; HE-2500: $535;
HE-4000: $795.
QDT, Ltd., 1000 Singleton Boulevard, Dallas, TX 75212-5214, (214)741-1993. Markets one model of
a heat exchanger with a heat pipe type core. SAE 150 150 cfm on high; 236 watts power consumption;
29" x 22" x 13"; 70% heat recovery; 6-inch duct connections; condensate pan and overflow connection.
Price: SAE 150: $629.
Raydot Inc., 145 Jackson Avenue, Cokato, MN 55321, (800) 328-3813 or (612) 286-2103. Markets five
heat exchangers of the counterflow design; three are designed for horizontal installation (e.g. basement
ceiling) and two are designed for vertical installation. These exchangers typically use aluminum heat
transfer plates 0.024" thick. The exchangers get the highest efficiency ratings (78 to 86%) at the slowest
airflow rates and the lower heat recovery ratings (61 to 71%) at the fastest airflow rates. Blower speed
is controlled using a variable speed control switch, sold as an accessory. The typical exchanger core
has two large intake heat exchange chambers and one exhaust chamber instead of multiple narrow
chambers that can freeze in winter. The 90 cfm model (RD-90-H) has a cylindrical exhaust chamber and
a cylindrical exterior. The company sells the basic core and mounting straps at a specific list price; the
final price will depend on the size and type of blowers and accessories selected. Basic core prices: RD225-H: $498; RD-150-H: $468; RD-90-H: $385; RD-225-V: $519; RD-150-V: $492. There are no listed
prices for exchangers complete with blowers. However, by adding the price of the basic core to the price
of two of the typical size blowers used, the following are examples of the basic exchanger prices with
blowers: RD-225-H: $846; RD-150-H: $728; RD-90-H: $629; RD-225-V: $867; RD-150-V: $752.

Additional Data on Ventilation


Snappy Division, Standex Energy Systems, Box 1168, 1011 11th Avenue S.E., Detroit Lakes, MN
56501, (800)346-4676 or (218)847-9258. Markets two single-pass crossflow heat exchangers; MayAire model MA 110: 110 cfm maximum capacity; 50 watts; 77% heat recovery; 17" x17" x 7.5"; 5inch diameter ducts; condensate drain; defrost cycle. May-Aire model MA 240: 240 cfm maximum
capacity; 100 watts; 70% heat recovery; 22" x 23" x 8.5"; 6-inch diameter ducts; condensate drain;
defrost cycle. Prices: MA 110: $550; MA 240: $597.
Star Heat Exchanger Corporation, B109 - 1772 Broadway Street, Port Coquitlam, British Columbia,
V3C-2M8, Canada, (604) 942-0525. Markets three different sizes of counterflow heat exchangers
having interfaced tube cores and one small size of flat plate exchanger. All models have an auto defrost
cycle, axial fans with infinitely variable speed control, and filters. The company rates the heat recovery
efficiency as the best when the outside temperature is the lowest. Nova is the smallest model: maximum
of 70 cfm; 34 watts; 65% heat recovery; 25" x 16" x 7.5"; flat plate exchanger core; defrost cycle. All
other models have counterflow plastic tube cores. Model 165: 165 cfm; 66 watts; 80% heat recovery;
39" x 15" x 12.5"; 7-inch ducts; defrost cycle. Model 200: 200 cfm; 66 watts; 80% heat recovery; 39" x
15" x 25"; 6- and 8-inch ducts; defrost cycle. Model 300: 300 cfm; 132 watts; 80% heat recovery; 39" x
15" x 25"; 8-inch ducts; defrost cycle. Prices: Nova: $307; Model 165: $620; Model 200: $770; Model
300: $960.
Xetex, Inc., 3530 East 28th Street, Minneapolis, MN 55406, (612) 724-3101. Markets one single-pass
crossflow and several double-pass crossflow heat exchangers ("Heat X Changer" units). Made with
aluminum heat exchange plates. A basic crossflow model (HX-50) gets about 62% heat recovery.
Other double-pass crossflow models get 80% heat recovery (HX-150 @ 119 cfm, HX-200, HX-250,
and HX-350 @ over 350 cfm). The basic model (HX-50) is very compact (19" x 11.5" x 7") with 4-inch
ducts. The double-pass models get progressively larger as the airflow capacity increases. (HX-150 is 24"
x 12.5" x 18" with 4-inch ducts; HX-350 is 40" x 25.5" x 22" with 8-inch ducts.) On all models the two
streams of air are completely separated, with no cross-contamination. Complete with condensate drain.
Filter accessories available. Prices: HX-50: $395; HX-150: $788; HX-200: $902; HX-250: $1,242;
HX-350: $1,533.
Notes on power consumption. The listed wattage on heat exchanger models can be converted to the
annual electrical costs in operating the system using these formulas: Watts x hours of operation x days
operating per year 1000 = the number of kilowatt hours (KWH) consumed per year. KWH/yr x your
local electrical cost per KWH = the total electrical cost per year.
For exchangers with only amperes listed the electrical costs can not be as easily determined. For
most electrical circuits, Watts = Volts x Amps. However, this relationship does not hold true for
electric motors. The following quote from the book Wiring Simplified should clarify the energy
consumption relationship: "The amperage drawn from the power line depends on the horsepower
delivered by the motor -- whether it is overloaded or under-loaded. The watts are not in proportion to the
amperes (because in motors, their 'power factor' must be considered). As the motor is first turned on it
consumes several times its rated current, momentarily. After it comes to speed, but is permitted to idle,
delivering no load, it consumes about half its rated current. Rated current is consumed when delivering
its rated horsepower, and more current if it is overloaded." 39
The wattage, then, can be as little as 50% of Voltage x Amperage. Some heat exchanger data
lists both amps and watts for the motors; in these cases, the usual proportion is about 75% of voltage x
amperage. As an example, a reasonable estimate of power used by an exchanger motor rated at 2.42
amps is 218 watts, as shown below.
Amps

2.42 amps

volts

0.75 power factor = Approximate wattage

120 volts x 0.75 power factor

218 watts

Energy Conservation in Housing Table of Contents for Electronic version

Below is listed the Table of Contents for the text, Energy Conservation in Housing,
with the page numbers and topics, as they appear in the complete electronic
version of this text, as of October 2003.

Contents
Introduction
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Acknowledgments
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Technical conditions or problems with this electronic version . . .

vi
vii
viii

Part One.

Energy Fundamentals: The Road to


Understanding Energy-Efficient Housing
Insulation and Energy Efficiency . . . . . . . . . . .
Basic Information on Heat Loss and Gain . . . . . . . . .
Vapor Barriers . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Window Orientation and Energy Efficiency
. . . . . . . .
Radiant Barriers . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Infiltration of Outside Air . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Development of Energy-Efficient Homes . . . . . . . . .
Analysis of Energy-Efficient Homes . . . . . . . . . . .

1
1
6
9
16
19
22
23

Part Two.
Superinsulation: The Energy-Efficient Solution
Why Superinsulation? . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Resolving Vapor Barrier and Insulation Problems . . . . . .
Heat Loss Calculations . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Shape of the Building and Heat Loss and Gain . . . . . . . .
Thermal Mass and the Drop of Temperature . . . . . . . .
Heating System . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Cooling Tubes for Summer Cooling?
. . . . . . . . . .
How Much Insulation Is Actually Needed?
. . . . . . . .
Heating Costs for the Year . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Applications of Energy Technology to New Homes . . . . . .
Retrofitting Insulation in Existing Homes
. . . . . . . .

29
29
35
42
43
44
48
51
54
58
74

Part Three.

House Ventilation:
Fresh Air for Tightly Constructed Homes
Evaluating Air-to-Air Heat Exchangers . . . . . . . . . .
Summary of Data on Commercially Available Heat Exchangers . . .
Air-to-Air Heat Exchangers: List of Selected Commercial Companies
Air-to-Air Heat Exchangers: Homemade Models . . . . . . .

82
88
91
96

Energy Conservation in Housing Table of Contents for Electronic version

Below is listed the Table of Contents for the text, Energy Conservation in Housing, with the page
numbers and topics, as they appear in the complete electronic version of this text, as of October
2003.

Part Four.
Additional Data on Energy-Efficient Housing
Comparative Costs of Insulation . . . . . . . . . . .
111
Assembling Superinsulated Walls . . . . . . . . . . .
115
Vapor Permeability of Materials . . . . . . . . . . .
116
Selecting the Appropriate Overhang for South Windows . . . .
119
Design Temperatures for Heating and Cooling for Selected Locations
122
Percentage of Sunshine for Selected Locations . . . . . . .
124
Ground Temperatures in Shallow Wells . . . . . . . . .
125
Magnetic Variations from True North . . . . . . . . .
126
Winter Solar Gain and Deviation from South . . . . . . .
126
Solar Position . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
127
Clear-day Solar Gain for Double-glazed Windows
. . . . .
128
Moisture Condensation within Sealed Panes of Glass . . . . .
129
Other Energy-saving Ideas . . . . . . . . . . . . .
132
References . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
135
Related References
. . . . . . . . . . . . . .
138
House Construction Information . . . . . . . . . . .
139
Manufacturers and Product Suppliers
. . . . . . . . .
140
Index . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
145

Energy Conservation in Housing Table of Contents for Electronic version

Appendix:
Retrofitting basement insulation . . . . . . . . . .
147
Getting started on retrofitting and existing home . . . . .
150
Practical data on retrofitting basement floor insulation . . . .
151
Observations on vapor barrier effectiveness . . . . . .
152
Attic radiant barrier . . . . . . . . . . . . .
152
Air-to-air heat exchanger Update information . . . . . .
153