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What ERVs Can’t Do


Energy recovery ventilators (ERVs) have flooded the HVAC market. Building owners want more fresh air in their buildings, but don’t want to pay the costs associated with conditioning it. They know it is far more costly to remove heat and humidity from 95° air than it is to do the same with return air. So, the industry has turned to the energy recovery ventilator as a means of efficiently reducing ventilation costs.

ERVs use a device (typically a wheel or a fixed plate) with heat transfer media to exchange heat from a building’s exhaust air to its fresh air source. In the summer, this means pre-cooling the outside air before it reaches a cooling coil, and in the winter it means the opposite; pre-heating the air before it reaches a heating coil. Pre-treating the air reduces the amount of energy required to heat or cool it. ERVs accomplish this with little power consumption, making them a desirable means of adding fresh air to a building.

The ERV Problem

Standard energy recovery ventilators, though, are a half-measure. While ERVs provide energy savings, they stop short of fully conditioning the air they are responsible for bringing into a building. Most ventilators discharge air off of the media at around 80° db and 67° wb in the summer. These are the classic full load design conditions for commercial comfort cooling applications. So, while an ERV reduces the outside air load, it adds more CFM of relatively warm, wet air that must be conditioned by the building’s other equipment.

A Better ERV

What if, instead of adding load, an ERV delivered fully conditioned air? The size of the comfort cooling equipment could be reduced and energy dollars would be saved. United CoolAir’s Alpha Aire does just that. By using two energy recovery devices, a small compressor, and a hot gas reheat coil, the Alpha Aire delivers room neutral air to a space. It does so without increasing load on the existing equipment. Plus, the unit is so efficient that it operates at near identical FLAs to the top ERVs on the market. Click this link for more details on the Alpha Aire, and join our mission to provide healthier, more efficient buildings.