For HVACR contractors, humidity is a constant concern. Depending on which portion of the country you live in, the battle of too much or too little humidity is paramount. And, as homeowners and building owners yearn for greater control of their indoor climate, manufacturers are racing to develop technologically advanced equipment to help these decision makers achieve their indoor environmental goals.

Creative Solutions

Aprilaire has become known for its line of humidifiers, said Mike Rimrodt, director of marketing, Aprilaire, claiming the company’s humidifiers have sort of become the company’s flagship product and one of its biggest revenue sources. He noted the Model 800 Residential Steam Humidifier as one of the company’s most sought after devices.

“It turned out to be fantastic,” said Rimrodt, noting the Model 800 has a capacity of 11.5, 20.5, or 23.3 gallons per day depending on electrical draw, and can humidify tightly constructed homes up to 6,200 square feet.

Like Aprilaire, Carrier offers both humidification and dehumidification solutions. The company is particularly proud of its Performance Series Steam Humidifier, which is the “most precise and sophisticated product with the highest output of up to 34 gallons per day,” said Kent Kuffner, IAQ product manager, Carrier.

In dehumidification, Kuffner said Carrier has two technologies, including the SmartEvap™ technology moisture-control function and Ideal Humidity System technology.

“A properly humidified home helps occupants breathe more comfortably with less dryness, saves on energy costs, reduces static electricity, and even helps protect wood flooring and furniture,” Kuffner said. “Plus, during the winter months, a properly humidified home increases comfort even at a lower thermostat set point, enabling the homeowner to save money while improving comfort.”

Honeywell features three whole-house dehumidifiers, in 120-, 90-, and 65-pint models. They require minimal maintenance and offer increased comfort for homeowners, said Stan Zywicki, product marketing director, IAQ, zoning, and water, Honeywell.

“We keep it simple,” Zywicki said. “We struck a really good balance with the efficiency versus price with these products.”

Honeywell also features three different product lines in the humidification field, which is a technology the company has been selling for a while, Zywicki said.

“Homeowners are familiar enough with humidification and dehumidification, but the real opportunity in the marketplace is helping homeowners become more aware of the optimal solutions for humidification and dehumidification, which is a whole-house solution, rather than these portable units,” Zywicki said. “A whole-house humidifier is much better than a portable, as is a whole-house dehumidifier. They are easier to maintain, efficient, and all-around better products.”

Hannah Granade, president, USA, Advantix Systems, said her company uses a proprietary system using liquid desiccant to control humidity. She said the technology was developed by three Israeli brothers who wanted to get into the ice rink business in Israel. Their solution came from the Dead Sea. She said it’s a simple concept, and provides a very elegant way to remove moisture from the air.

“We use a proprietary system to be able to dry the air using a salt solution, so we use a salt-water based air conditioning system to simultaneously cool and dry the air in a single pass,” Granade said. “That’s the core of our technology. The major advantage is to be able to remove moisture from the air. … It allows us to remove humidity from the air without having to reach saturation, and the benefit of doing that is you’re able to run smaller equipment, and you save a lot of energy.”

Munters offers both humidification and dehumidification products for commercial consumers.

Larry Klekar, director of national accounts and Latin American sales, Munters, said the company’s DryCool product line of humidity control units (HCUs) has paved the way for advanced desiccant dehumidification systems.

“We have a patent on these makeup-air systems where waste heat from the condenser is used for the reactivation of the desiccant wheel, while the evaporator pre-cools the air prior to processing it through the desiccant wheel,” he said. “Others using desiccant-based wheels for dehumidification have to use an additional heat source, electric, gas, steam, etc., to reactivate the wheel. Recovering waste heat from the condenser is basically free heat, making the DryCool HCU systems very energy efficient.”

Ultra-Aire offers seven different sizes of whole-house dehumidifiers, said Nikki Krueger, marketing manager. She said the company’s SD-12, a split dehumidifier that can remove up to 184 pints of water per day, intakes fresh air.

“The dehumidifying unit is located inside the house, while the condensing unit is installed outdoors,” Krueger said. “The two-piece design allows the sensible heat load generated from dehumidifying the house to be released by the outdoor condensing unit, thus reducing additional air conditioner run time. We have a unit for everybody’s needs.”

Moisture Morphing

With dehumidification, liquid desiccant is becoming the newest way to do it, Granade said.

“The reason a liquid is so much more effective than a solid desiccant is it’s able to regenerate much more efficiently,” Granade said. “A liquid gets regenerated at a much lower temperature than a solid, so a lot less heat is required to accomplish that regeneration. And since a liquid is a working fluid, it’s so much more flexible than a solid, coated desiccant wheel. With a liquid technology, you’re able to migrate only excess moisture.”

Klekar said Munters’ CELdek evaporative cooling media for humidification and direct-evaporative cooling applications has immensely grown in popularity.

“We’ve seen more people selecting evaporative cooling today than they did 15 years ago because there seems to be a higher awareness of the technology and its benefits,” Klekar said. “The more people try it, the more knowledge spreads that it is a very cost-effective way to humidify and cool commercial buildings.”

Steam humidification is also gaining traction. Rimrodt said that’s the way humidifiers seem to be going because steam guarantees delivery of humidity. Zywicki said while steam is relatively new from a mass market standpoint, Honeywell’s steam products have been well-received.

And although Aprilaire is known more for its humidifiers, Rimrodt said the company has noticed a tremendous growth opportunity for dehumidifiers.

“There’s a need for the product,” Rimrodt said. “It’s becoming a more mainstream product, if you will, and it’s needed because while your air conditioning system can pull some moisture out of the air, it’s not meant to dehumidify the house. So the nice thing about the dehumidifiers are they work in conjunction with an air conditioning system, pulling the moisture out of the house to make it comfortable without overcooling the home.”

Most of all, it’s important to keep humidity in check as a way to create and maintain optimal IAQ.

“If you’re not controlling your humidity, you’re not really getting to the source of the problem,” Zywicki said. “You need to make sure the humidity is right so you’re not creating an environment that promotes the growth of bacteria and mold.”

Publication date: 8/12/2013 

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