HRV or ERV – Which Ventilation System Should I Go For?

Heat recovery ventilation systems (HRV) and energy recovery ventilation systems (ERV) are two commonly used systems in many homes. However, few people know what the differences between the two types are, much less when one is a better choice over the other. Let’s look at how HRV and ERV ventilation systems are similar before discussing when one is better than the other.


The Similarities Between ERV and HRV Systems

While we want to keep heated or air-conditioned air inside our homes, we need some ventilation. Bathroom fans and range hoods were early methods for removing excess humidity, smells, and smoke from the home. Both ERV and HRV systems are more advanced versions of these early air exchangers though they don’t always accomplish some of these functions with the same efficiency.

Both systems bring fresh outside air into a home while filtering it so that it doesn’t simultaneously bring in insects and pollen. They are both designed to catch and then expel pollutants in a home, such as dust and smoke. Both ERV and HRV systems are designed to remove excess humidity. Each is connected to ducts in the home to cycle the air every few hours while cleaning it. Some models of ERV and HRV systems have separate paths for incoming and outgoing air but will transfer heat to minimise the need to heat or cool fresh air. This results in significant energy savings.

When an HRV System Is the Right Choice

An HRV system will always have the separate paths for incoming and outgoing air while maximising heat recovery. However, in an HRV system, the dividing walls are sealed against humidity. An HRV will do a good job of removing excessively humid air inside a home generated by human activity.

HRV systems are usually better for homes where humidity can quickly reach untenable levels. If the building is air-tight and tends to trap humidity inside the building, you’ll prefer an HRV system over the long run. That makes HRV systems a default solution for homes that meet high energy efficiency standards unless local climate is the deciding factor. Work with experts like BPC Ventilation to determine the right type of ventilation system for your home.

When an ERV System Is the Right Choice

ERV systems have the heat recovery core in the dividing walls. In ERV dividing walls, there is a desiccant material that absorbs some, though not all, humidity. In general, an ERV system dries outgoing air and humidifies incoming air. In the winter, the average ERV system will naturally retain humidity inside the home. An ERV is a boon to the home’s dehumidifier because it transfers some of the humidity in incoming air to the outgoing air. If you live in a cold, dry climate, an ERV is a better choice for your home.

An ERV is typically the better choice for a large home that tends to have dry air. If you have a wood heating system for instance, an ERV system will give you a healthy humidity level. If you live somewhere with hot humid summers and run the air conditioner a lot, an ERV can help you keep the home cool and dry by transferring some of the incoming humidity to the outgoing air.

The right type of ventilation system for your home depends on the local climate, how well sealed your home is, and how much humidity you may generate within the home itself. If you make the right choice, you’ll save energy and improve your quality of life.

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