CHICAGO — Excess air moisture, or lack thereof, influences all aspects of the built environment. Contractors, engineers, architects, and building owners are becoming more and more aware of humidification and dehumidification technologies and how such products can benefit their operations.
Hannah Granade, CEO, Advantix Systems, said she is seeing more desiccant products in the market, something she considers a good thing. “We think it’s good to continue expanding the market. A lot of manufacturers are acknowledging that this is a technology that will dominate probably three-quarters of climates in the future market.”
Advantix Systems launched its OA E+ outside air unit during the AHR Expo. The unit uses a nontoxic lithium chloride solution to simultaneously remove moisture and cool air. By including energy recovery technology, the equipment boasts significant energy savings and low upfront maintenance costs.
“Engineers are aware of humidity challenges and are much more careful calculating loads,” said Granade. “They’re really thinking about design conditions and making sure they are not just thinking about peak design conditions, but also conditioning the building all year long. There’s a lot more awareness than there was three or four years ago.”
According to Granade, newer technologies like chilled beams and variable refrigerant flow (VRF) are driving the dehumidification market because humidity has to be carefully controlled in those applications. “If you have humidity in the building, it will ruin the building infrastructure. It becomes very critical to have a piece of equipment in your building capable of handling the humidity load. It’s an interesting merging of trends.”
When it comes to dehumidification, bigger is better, said Tom Kelly, vice president, sales and marketing integration, air quality, Haier America Inc. “People are preferring much larger pint sizes than before. It used to be your smaller market was 25-30 pints, and your medium market was 45 pints. Now, a lot of people are starting at 45-55 and moving up to 60-65 pints,” said Kelly. “People want speed. When water is coming into a basement through a foundation, a smaller unit will have a difficult time handling that. People want to take care of humidity issues as quickly as possible.”
According to Mike Rimrodt, marketing director, Aprilaire, a large trend in humidification right now is optimizing the product to things like temperature, furnace run time, house size, and climate.
“We optimize our control so it delivers the maximum amount of humidity, regardless of what’s going on in the house,” Rimrodt said. “And we do that in a variety of different ways. The first is automatic control, which looks at the outdoor temperature and indoor relative humidity (RH), then it adjusts accordingly, based upon a chart. It varies over the course of the day, and where you want your RH. It automatically makes those adjustments.
“Next, we look at the evaporative technology versus steam technology. Evaporative has been around for a long time and continues to be a great way to humidify, but, for some heat pump applications where the product temperature is high, we offer steam technology,” said Rimrodt. “There are all these different criteria in choosing the right technology. If you have up to a 4,200-square-foot home, you can use evaporative. If you have a 6,200-square-foot home, you want to go with steam.”
Aprilaire showcased its new Whole-Home Dehumidifiers during the AHR Expo. The dehumidifier is installed as part of a home’s heating and cooling system. It works in conjunction with the air conditioner, or independently, as needed, to remove the ideal amount of moisture. This is done throughout the entire home, using a single, out-of-the-way source — unlike portables. The dehumidifier features automatic humidity sensing, quiet operation, and low-maintenance operation without messy trays to empty. Instead, consumers simply clean or replace the filter once a year.
“We designed it for all of the applications in the house, so you can put it in the attic, in the basement, or in a crawlspace — it’s designed so it will fit,” said Rimrodt. “It’s easy to install, and we offer digital control, which is very intuitive.”
Einar Frobom, national sales manager, commercial equipment, Munters Corp., said engineers, owners, and manufacturers are placing a high importance on indoor humidity levels, he said. “I’m not saying humidity wasn’t addressed previously, but there’s a general consensus humidity control was kind of a nice-to-have feature only added after temperature control had been addressed.
“There’s this expanded acceptance that dew point matters and a lower dew point has considerable advantages in system operation and efficiency,” Frobom continued. “If you do a good job in humidity control, temperature control becomes a very easy part of the equation.”
Tony Uttley, vice president and general manager, home comfort and energy systems, Americas, Honeywell Intl. Inc., said dehumidification is being used more frequently as a form of home protection.
“In the South, where the dehumidification option can help take care of things like mold and help building materials perform better, dehumidification is being used for protection,” said Uttley. “We’re seeing really high usage, particularly in new construction.”
At the expo, Honeywell exhibited a new steam humidifier that features a HumidiPROTM digital humidistat, so consumers can simply set the system and forget it. HumidPRO makes automatic adjustments when the weather changes to reduce excess condensation and frost on a home’s windows. The unit is installed into the home’s central heating and cooling system and hooked up to a water supply to automatically deliver steam humidification into the ductwork, which is then distributed throughout the home. The water tank automatically fills and requires minimal maintenance.
“Steam humidification really allows users to attain a humidity level that most people don’t see, but that’s what your skin and home typically need,” Uttley said. “There is also a trend toward Internet connectivity. Right now, we have humidifiers and dehumidifiers that tie back to our RedLINK communication protocol.”
Honeywell’s Lyric thermostat also helps control humidity in the home. “Using the Fine Tune feature, a user may control the desired comfort level through the indoor temperature, indoor humidity, outdoor temperature, and outdoor humidity,” Uttley explained.
“On a humid day, 72°F feels very different than it does on a dry day. As a homeowner, all you have to do is enable that Fine Tune feature and set your desired comfort level. Our controls system will take care of the rest.”
Publication date: 2/23/2015