Energy recovery ventilators (ERVs) and heat recovery ventilators (HRVs) work by passing incoming and outgoing airstreams through a patented heat exchange core (usually made of aluminum), where the heat from the exhaust air is efficiently transferred to the incoming fresh air.

Sales have been increasing, although most agree there is still some price sensitivity in lower end housing markets.

NuTech Energy System’s Ralph Johnson said a new ASHRAE ventilation standard will encourage people to think more about increasing ventilation, even if it does not immediately or specifically require an ERV or HRV like Nutech’s “Lifebreath.”

He said their greatest penetration is in Baby Boomers who are moving into their third or fourth home and know the more advanced features they are looking for, including better indoor air quality.

These units are also found increasingly in schools, restaurants, bars, and indoor swimming pool areas (natatoriums).

A new digital remote controller, ControlAir-15, was described as “a new and better way to control your Lifebreath HRV” with five-speed operation.

Greenheck showed its ERV-251. The energy recovery ventilator can bring in 100% outside air while recovering 80% of the energy, and can be used in the existing hvac system. The company also showed a line of louvers.

Research Products Corp. announced that its family of air cleaners, fresh air ventilators, zone controls, etc., all will now come under the same umbrella name as its humidifiers: “Aprilaire.”

Brad Nielsen said this should help the contractor in the long run by being able to apply more marketing muscle to a single popular brand name rather than several.

It plays in Minnesota

Standex (Snappy) said ERV sales have been huge in Minnesota with the newer, more stringent energy regulations being applied there, and have been strong on the commercial side, especially with restaurants and bars that continue to allow smoking for patrons.

Broan showed ERVs that range from $1,500 to $2,500. Cost of these types of add-ons will probably come down as contractors become more familiar with installation (some not familiar with them might quote a higher-than-necessary installation cost), as well as ramped-up manufacturing when some states begin to mandate their use.

Tjernlund Products offered Santek electronic air cleaners in four models from 750 to 2,000 cfm, to capture smoke, dust, pollen, etc., with up to 95% efficiency.

Sidebar: Not all ducts are metal

Fabric air ducts are seeing more applications.

DuctSox’s Comfortflow Series, for example, is said to be the answer to many situations where metal ducts aren’t practical to install. These ducts can be used for either temporary or permanent ventilation situations, and are generally cheaper to produce and install than metal ducts.

A booth spokesperson said the ducts can be taken down and laundered, then rehung like living room curtains. He pointed out these ducts are also ideal for use in highly corrosive environments such as natatoriums.

Vent-Tech USA also showed flexible ductwork, as did FOF. One restaurant liked the softer, more colorful look of the hanging, flexible ducts.