Humidity Control a Key Component of Comfort and IAQ
ORLANDO, Fla. — HVAC contractors are constantly seeking accurate, energy-efficient, year-round solutions to their customers’ humidification and dehumidification needs. A number of those solutions were on display at the 2016 AHR Expo in Orlando, Florida.
PROTECTION AND PRESERVATION
“As existing homes are tightened up to increase energy efficiency, homeowners will no longer be able to ignore humidification and dehumidification,” said Janis Rozenbergs, humidification product manager at Aprilaire. “Products that protect expensive, delicate investments — such as wood flooring, guitars, and pianos — while also improving health and comfort, will be in high demand. In addition, consumers will continue to look for more convenient, intuitive ways to control indoor climate through Wi-Fi thermostats.”
According to Rozenbergs, Aprilaire is helping contractors meet the need for humidity control with its Model 801 and 866 modulating steam humidifiers and Model 1870 dehumidifier with ventilation. The Model 801 can deliver precise amounts of moisture throughout a home with capacities ranging 11.5-34.6 gallons per day. On the dehumidification side, the Energy Star-certified Model 1870 removes up to 130 pints per day of moisture from the air. The 1870 may also bring in fresh air through controlled ventilation to dilute stale air.
“With the proliferation of the Wi-Fi thermostat trend, Aprilaire answers with SmartIAQ, which provides premium control of temperature, humidity, air purity, and fresh-air ventilation,” Rozenbergs said.
Carel USA introduced the humiSonic direct humidifier, which is designed to be a complete solution that can be installed directly in the humidified environment.
According to Ken Wood, Carel’s national sales and marketing manager, the humiSonic’s integrated control panel means there’s no need for an external control panel, and the plug-and-play installation makes it well-suited for retrofit applications, including data centers, museums, and libraries. The units feature Modbus compatibility, low electricity consumption, minimal maintenance, and the flexibility to operate up to four units in parallel, Wood said.
The humiSonic direct is available in 4.4-17.6 pounds per hour sizes.
At DriSteem, product managers Phil Lilja and Steve Felber said contractors will continue to experience installation labor shortages, rising installation and service costs, a decline in steam system piping installation and design, and an ongoing focus on energy and water efficiency in 2016.
DriSteem is helping contractors address these factors by offering low-maintenance humidification systems, panelized steam humidification that requires less on-site labor and steam expertise compared to built-up steam humidifier grids, evaporative cooling systems that include high-pressure atomization and wetted media, and gas-fired steam generators.
Lilja said the company’s Ultra-sorb XV conserves heat energy through high-performing tube insulation and condensate that is returned to the boiler.
“DriSteem’s newer products offer opportunities for maintenance contracts where regular service and maintenance is quick and easy, yet still offers revenue opportunities,” he said. “This includes water treatment and low-maintenance humidification systems that provide reduced downtime and use filters and membranes that are easy to replace,” Felber said.
Tom Christensen, tech support and in-house contractor for General Filters Inc., said steam humidification is gaining popularity as homes continue to get bigger and incorporate hardwood floors, which increase the requirement for humidity. In addition, multistage furnaces facilitate cooler temperatures, which reduce the amount of moisture a flow-through humidifier can provide. Steam humidifiers, on the other hand, do not depend on furnace activity to produce steam.
HEALTH AND COMFORT
Dehumidification is also gaining ground. Whole-house systems are often preferred because of their affinity to reduce mold and mildew growth and control residential pest infiltration.
According to Christensen, contractor education will be essential as homeowners look to contractors to serve as the experts in IAQ.
“Contractors who can’t answer IAQ questions or install the right IAQ products are less likely to be successful,” he said.
Christensen added that more than 90 percent of the humidifier market consists of room units, which only provide spot treatment. Whole-house IAQ market segments will continue to grow as homeowners recognize the effectiveness of whole-home treatment. In addition, energy savings and green technologies will increase in importance, and products will use less electricity and water.
Honeywell Intl. Inc. reps insist, based on feedback from its customers, that family comfort and health are critically important to consumers. People will continue to put their families first — particularly from the perspective that proper humidity levels have a major impact on health.
“Contractors and technicians will start to hear more about the negative effects of having low humidity in the home, such as dry skin, chapped lips, or static shocks,” said Kevin Graebel, Honeywell’s director of IAQ. “Additionally, a recent study completed by the U.S. National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health showed that establishing relative humidity levels above 40 percent in a space can significantly reduce the airborne transmission of the influenza virus. In the cold, dry winter months, this level is often only reachable with a whole-home steam humidifier, and Honeywell is focused on making this an available, affordable option for families.”
The Electrode Humidifier provides the flexible performance and mounting options of a steam humidifier with the easy maintenance of a disposable replacement canister, said Graebel.
“Our contractors have been telling us they love the performance and flexibility of Honeywell steam humidifiers, but they want to simplify annual maintenance,” Graebel said. “The Electrode Humidifier meets that need.”
Honeywell also offers whole-house dehumidifiers to help reduce home humidity levels on days when it’s not necessary to run an air conditioner.
Einar Frobom, national sales manager, commercial equipment, Munters Corp., noted that ensuring proper amounts of outside air is not a new concept, and most contractors, technicians, engineers, and building owners grasp the concept that, for occupant health and a healthy building environment, more outside air is a good thing in commercial buildings. However, bringing in more outside air increases the importance of proper humidity control.
“Traditional HVAC systems have focused on temperature control, and humidity control was, in many instances, left as a nice thing to have or, worse, an afterthought,” Frobom said. “Those systems were sufficient when outside air percentages were kept at code minimums; however, trying to apply those same technologies with increased amounts of outside air presents challenges.”
According to Frobom, dehumidification systems that effectively remove the moisture from the outside air are gaining favor in the industry, as attaining lower dew points for better space humidity control helps reduce the cost of consumed energy in the form of more efficiently sized compressors or chiller plants.
He noted that ASHRAE recently adopted the Air-Conditioning, Heating, and Refrigeration Institute’s (AHRI’s) Standard 920 for dedicated outside air systems (DOAS) equipment. The standard defines what a DOAS unit is, outlines how to test its efficiency, and establishes the new moisture removal efficiency (MRE) metric. The ASHRAE Standard 90.1 committee approved putting minimum levels for DOAS equipment based on MRE into the 2013 version as an addendum and added it to the main body of the 2016 standard.
“Now that DOAS equipment has been added to 90.1 in the 2013 and 2016 versions, it’s anticipated, sincere notice will be given by the engineering community as they will need to understand the metric and how it applies to the projects they’re working on in the future,” Frobom said. “Simply put, using MRE as the yardstick for DOAS units, which are, in essence, dehumidification units, becomes a more tangible and appropriate measure for this type of system, regardless of the technology used to remove moisture.”
He added that Munters’ DryCool technology utilizes a patented condenser waste heat to activate the desiccation process. According to Frobom, the Munters equipment on the AHR show floor attains twice the minimum MRE values established by AHRI 920 and ASHRAE 90.1.
Seresco USA Inc. introduced the three-model NE Series Compact Cabinets at the AHR Expo. These pool/spa dehumidifiers are in enclosures designed specifically for mounting above suspended ceilings and other small, tight areas for use in small aquatic-centric spaces containing physical therapy pools, spas, swim-spas, and other small vessels used in health care facilities, medical offices, assisted living centers, condominiums, small hotels, and residential buildings.
The Compact Cabinet models feature Seresco’s NE Series 2-, 3-, or 4-ton units in a new 46-by-32-by-22-inch enclosure that fits easily into the 24-inch-high spaces above standard suspended or T-bar ceilings. The Compact Cabinets range 6-20 pounds of moisture per hour removal capacity, 500- to 1,800-cfm airflow (at 0.75-inches water gauge), and achieve 50 percent relative humidity (rh) in most aquatic rooms less than 1,000 square feet in size.
The NE Series Compact Cabinet models feature WebSentry® Technology, Seresco’s proprietary Web-based automated remote monitoring system. Other features include energy-efficient direct-drive fans and electronically commutated motors (ECMs).
Publication date: 2/22/2016