Energy Recovery Ventilators (ERVs) and Heat Recovery Ventilators (HRVs) are an integral – and rapidly growing – segment of the residential and commercial HVAC industry. Although the terms are often referred to interchangeably, there is indeed a difference between ERVs and HRVs.
Both share the same basic function, which is to pre-condition incoming air to a building, thus allowing its heating and/or cooling systems to operate more efficiently (i.e., cheaper!). Incoming and outgoing air pass through a device (the “core”) where they don’t come into direct contact with each other, but rather with the core material, which transfers heat between the streams. In the winter, for example, cold incoming air is pre-heated by the warm outgoing air, which means that the furnace doesn’t need to work as hard to get its inlet air heated up to the desired room temperature.
The difference is that ERVs do even more than HRVs. ERVs not only allow for heat to be exchanged in the core, but moisture as well, effectively dehumidifying incoming air in warm environments. This makes an ERV the more attractive choice in continuously hot/humid climates, such as those found in the southern parts of the USA.
Indoor Air Quality Benefits
Reducing energy costs is alone a good enough reason to use ERVs and HRVs. But there is an additional fundamental benefit: maintaining proper ventilation. By definition, the devices are used to pump fresh air into a house or commercial building and to vent stale air to the outside, banishing undesirable pollutants such as excess moisture, molds, bacteria, and household chemicals. Without the ERV/HRV, the same stale air is continuously cycled through the building. Coupled with the appropriate filtering technology, the benefits of bringing fresh air into a home, school, or workplace, particularly during a pandemic, are self-evident. ERVs and HRVs are also able to sense, monitor, and report the quality of the air being circulated, and to react accordingly to these conditions.
ERV and HRV sales were already growing rapidly, prior to the COVID-19 crisis, with North America holding the largest share of the market. Ontario even revised its Building Code to require all new home constructions to include one of these devices. Adoption of ERVs and HRVs in the USA is also picking up. The pandemic, though, has shone a new spotlight on Indoor Air Quality (IAQ), bringing ERVs and HRVs to the forefront of plans to retrofit and improve existing HVAC systems where families, students, and workers are gathered.
Operation and control of ERVs and HRVs is typically handled by a main control board inside the unit itself. Proper control of the ERV and HRV functions is critical asset. For maximum efficiency, balancing the air flow is highly recommended. Unbalanced airflow can result in problems, such as the risk of ice build-up, negative pressure, etc.
However, since the unit is often mounted in an isolated area of the building, some kind of remote control in the living/working area is also required, allowing the user to activate certain features and functions. This is usually a wall-mounted control and/or timer unit, which could be hardwired to the ERV/HRV through the walls or could communicate wirelessly to the main unit. These wall controls can range in complexity from simple push-button assemblies to intricate LCD or TFT displays with animation and touch-sensitivity. Plastics design, for the housings of the wall controls, is also an important consideration, in order to give the unit an aesthetic look that is consistent with other modern designs in the building.
As with so many other devices in our homes now, the technology also exists for the unit to communicate with the user via a smartphone app, potentially eliminating the need wall controls altogether.
The electronic heart of the ERV/HRV isn’t just limited to the control board. Transformers, door/safety switches, motors, wire harnesses, and sensing devices are also commonly used inside the ERV/HRV assembly.
Avnan has a long history of designing and producing every one of these types of electronics parts and assemblies for ERV/HRV manufacturers at competitive costs and at the highest quality levels. This allows the OEMs to concentrate on their core competencies (heat-exchange technology, metal fabrication, etc.). Avnan also leverages our 25-year history, international presence, and flexible supply chain options to mitigate tariff concerns, shorten lead times, and reduce customer inventory levels.
Avnan’s customer base is a “who’s who” of leading ERV/HRV manufacturers, but new players are always emerging, and Avnan stands ready to assist.
If you’re an existing customer, your account manager will work with you to find ways to bring further value to the relationship. If you’ve never worked with us before, please visit our website to learn more about how we can solve your technical challenges, reduce your costs, and simplify your supply chain.
In these challenging times, let Avnan show you how we can make things easier for you, and safer for the world.