We generally shut the windows and doors in the summer to keep the heat out. We close the same entry points when winter arrives to ensure it stays warm indoors.
But have you ever thought about what happens to the indoor air quality when you close the doors and windows?
It’s a pretty valid question as the air inside an airtight home is rarely of good quality—it generally does not have sufficient oxygen. It is also filled with allergens from pets, odors from the bathroom, and dirt and dust particles.
How do you keep these elements out of your home without compromising indoor airtightness? The answer lies in an energy recovery ventilator!
An energy recovery ventilator (ERV) brings fresh outdoor air into your house without allowing indoor heat to escape.
This article will look at the best energy recovery ventilators and how you should pick the best model for your needs.
But first, let’s understand what an ERV is and how it works.
What Is an Energy Recovery Ventilator?
An energy recovery ventilator’s primary purpose is to provide homes with a ventilation system that removes humid and stale air and introduces fresh air inside the house.
In addition, they use HVAC exhaust air to preheat or pre-cool the air entering your building or home.
This process recovers some of the heating or cooling output that would otherwise be lost.
For instance, during the winter season, these systems preheat the incoming air using the heat from the warmer exhaust air.
They even recover some heat from washing, cooking, and water to warm up the air entering your house.
On the other hand, energy recovery ventilators pre-cool and dehumidify the incoming air during the summer months by exchanging air with the cooler and drier exhaust air.
Overall, an ERV can increase the heating efficiency and air quality of a house.
It can separate the different types of air inside your home and therefore bring in fresh air while expelling the stale air that accumulates and the humidity, toxins, and other common indoor air pollutants.
In addition, ERVs can utilize enthalpy transfer, which is a fancy way of saying that they enable moisture transfer between the two different air streams used in the ventilation process.
As a result, when humidity levels outside are high, the device reduces the amount of moisture entering your house.
The Best Energy Recovery Ventilators for Your Money
Here are some of the best energy-recovery ventilators you can invest in to keep the air inside your home clean and fresh.
1.) Panasonic FV-10VE1 Intelli-Balance 100 Energy Recovery Ventilator
Like most Panasonic products, this model is a high-quality ERV designed and manufactured with keen attention to detail.
Often referred to as the Intelli-Balance 100, the unit can easily withstand extreme temperatures and keeps going even when it falls to 14°F (-10℃).
This ERV uses an intelligent flow technology where, when the exhaust fans sense static pressure, the speed increases automatically to allow for optimal CFM output.
The machine features a built-in adjustable fan timer that will enable you to set the fan to operate for a specified period, making your life relatively easy.
The unit comes with ceiling-mounting brackets, which allow for easy installation. It uses 80 watts per hour and warrants 4-6 inch-wide ducting.
The Panasonic FV-10VEQ Intelli-Balance is priced at around $1,000. You can purchase the unit from Amazon here (subject to availability).
2.) Build Equinox CERV Smart Ventilation System
The Build Equinox CERV is not an ordinary energy recovery ventilator—it’s a premium smart ventilation system to manage your home’s indoor air quality intelligently and efficiently.
This ERV can improve your home’s ambient air through its proprietary Zone Configuration technology.
The zone dampers installed inside the ducts can be linked to switches and other control devices, enabling the machine to prioritize ventilation for various situations, including showering in the bathroom or cooking in the kitchen.
The machine doesn’t use an ERV exchanger core. Instead, it uses a high-efficiency heat pump to transfer heat between fresh and outgoing air.
Moreover, it offers automatic fresh air measurement and control through integrated pollutant sensors that automatically activate fresh air ventilation.
Some other features of the Build Equinox CERV include:
- Sensible energy recovery
- CO2 monitor and control
- Conditioned air delivery
- Volatile organic compound (VOC) monitoring and control
- Online monitoring and control
- Mixing and recirculation mode
- Utility duct and energy mixing
- Home health feedback reports
All CERV units come with MERV 13. It features a filter access panel that allows you to monitor and change indoor and outdoor filters.
Additionally, a built-in 3.5-inch full-color capacitive touchscreen allows you to interact with the CERV easily.
You can get more information on the manufacturer’s website here.
3.) Honeywell VNT5150E1000/U 150 CFM Energy Recovery Ventilator
This Honeywell ERV automatically exchanges stale air for fresher air, optimizing airflow.
As a result, the ventilation reduces toxic indoor air pollutants such as carbon monoxide as well as lingering smells from food prep, smoke, and more.
The unit’s streamlined, compact design works with your central heating and air and eliminates the need for time-consuming installation and overhead ducts.
Moreover, it removes humidity from incoming air for improved indoor air quality through high efficiency and performance.
This energy recovery ventilator has a five-year warranty and includes a ventilator, energy recovery core, four round duct collars, two filters, wall mount brackets, and an installation kit.
The Honeywell VNT 5150 is priced at $1,460. You can head over to the manufacturer’s website to get more information regarding the product.
4.) Fantech SE 704N Fresh Air Appliance
Fantech’s most compact side duct-connected energy recovery ventilator, the SE 704N unit, offers a constant supply of fresh air inside your home while expelling an equal amount of polluted air.
The unit features an enthalpy core, an electronic control board, and washable electrostatic filters.
The enthalpic core at the center transfers moisture and heat from the incoming air to the outgoing air that was dried and cooled by the building’s air conditioner.
This energy-recovery ventilator pre-cools the fresh incoming air when it is humid and warm outside and the indoors and dehumidified and cooled. Then, it transfers a portion of the incoming humidity into the exhaust air, decreasing the ventilation load.
Reducing the load on your home’s air conditioners allows you to save on cooling costs.
Priced at $606, the Fantech SE 704N is perfect for humid, warmer climates that experience longer cooling seasons.
It also allows airflow up to 67 CFM @ 0.3″ PS, making it ideal for homes with 1 to 2 bedrooms. Moreover, its compact size and wall bracket make this ERV easy to mount.
Here are some other essential features of this ERV include:
- Withstands freezing
- Anti-microbial material
- AHRI-certified energy recovery core
- Optional drain line
- No need for a drain or defrost pan
- No need for balancing
5.) Soler & Palau TR200 For All Climates
The Soler & Palau TR200 For All Climates exhausts stale indoor air and introduces fresh outdoor air in your home.
The two air streams are channeled through an advanced “air-to-air” energy exchange core in this model. Several layers of ‘plates’ separate the streams, so there is no risk of contamination or mixing them.
The plates are manufactured using an engineered “resin” material that transfers heat through conduction and humidity by drawing and transporting water vapor from one air stream to another.
The one-of-a-kind moisture transfer capability of the Soler & Palau core even eliminates frost and condensation buildup.
As a result, the TR200 does not require electrical or mechanical defrost systems, unlike other ERVs, leading to easier installation, higher heat recovery efficiency, and smoother operation.
Here are some of the most critical model features you should know of:
- Relay/transformer package allowing easy on and off controls
- Plastic double collars for 6-inch or 8-inch direct duct connection
- MERV-8 filters
- Fully-insulated case
- Hanging bracket system and integral mounting flange
- Large cores for high energy efficiency
- Less than 1-watt power consumption on standby mode
- Eliminates the need for a condensate drain or pan
This unit comes with a 10-year heat exchanger warranty and a two-year parts warranty.
It is priced at $1,255. However, you can purchase it from AC Wholesalers and pay in installments of $210 per month.
6.) Clean Comfort VE30100 100 CFM Energy Recovery Ventilator
The Clean Comfort VE30100 will supply fresh air to your home all throughout the year while also reducing the extra load on your cooling and heating equipment.
This ERV has three different operating modes (high, continuous, and intermittent) and 100 percent variable speed.
It features an ISF™ (Insert, Slide, and Fix) five-inch oval collar system and has an advanced proportional supply fan shut-down defrost sequence.
Moreover, the machine has two permanently lubricated PSC motors, and you can balance the ventilator by adjusting each motor independently without needing any dampers.
Apart from the features mentioned above, Clean Comfort VE30100 has:
- Integrated auxiliary furnace interlock relay
- Wall-mounted brackets
- Integrated balancing pressure taps
- Connection terminals for wall controls
Priced at just $1,059, this energy recovery ventilator makes an excellent investment as it transfers both latent and sensible heat and is effective in cold and warm climates.
It is also UL, CSA, and HVI-listed and comes with a five-year motor and parts warranty.
You can purchase the energy recovery ventilator from AC Wholesalers with installments of just $177 per month.
7.) Panasonic WhisperComfort FV-04VE1
The WhisperComfort ERV is a standalone system that offers balanced ventilation.
The unit is energy efficient and supplies clean, ventilated air while maintaining high indoor air quality.
This Panasonic energy recovery ventilator is perfect for multi-family units and single-family homes.
Moreover, it’s easy to install and affordably priced at only $449.99.
It is UL-listed for wall-mount or ceiling applications and can be used to comply with the latest building standards and codes.
The machine has a MERV 6 supply filter and employs a damper. It features an exchange capillary core that recovers moisture and temperature.
Moreover, the unit has three suspension brackets, a grille, a switch label, and three screws.
The WhisperComfort FV-04VE1 features the same energy-efficient AC condenser that powers Panasonic’s other high-performance vent fans.
Nevertheless, WhisperComfort has two efficient blower wheels running on a single motor for decreased noise and lower power consumption.
These blower wheels move a large volume of air at low speeds, running cooler and lasting longer.
The low rate and continuous run ensure that chemicals, including VOCs and other contaminants, are vented outside. The ERV has a maximum CFM value of 40.
You can find more details regarding the WhisperComfort FV-04VE1 on the Panasonic website.
How to Pick the Right ERV Model for Your Needs
Choosing the most suitable energy recovery ventilator for your needs involves considering several factors.
The right ERV will significantly contribute to indoor air quality, energy efficiency, and overall comfort in your space.
Here are the key considerations to help you make an informed decision:
- Find out the air exchange rate: Determine the required ventilation rate for your space based on factors such as occupancy, room size, and air quality goals. This will guide you in selecting an ERV with the appropriate airflow capacity.
- Consider your building size: ERVs come in various sizes. Therefore, it’s essential to choose one that matches the dimensions of your building to ensure efficient air exchange.
- Cold vs. hot climates: Different ERVs are designed to perform optimally in specific climates. For colder climates, look for units with frost prevention mechanisms. On the other hand, ERVs for warmer climates may focus more on moisture control.
- Ease of installation: Choose an ERV that suits your installation requirements. Some units are designed for easy retrofitting, while others are better suited for new constructions.
- Operational noise: Consider the noise levels produced by the ERV during operation. Lower noise levels are crucial, especially if the unit will be installed in living spaces or bedrooms.
- Seek professional advice: Consult with HVAC professionals or engineers for personalized recommendations based on your specific requirements.
- Research brands: Investigate the reputation of ERV manufacturers. Established brands with positive customer reviews often indicate reliable and durable products.
Tips for Maximizing Cost Savings With ERVs
To ensure you get the most out of your ERV and maximize cost savings, consider the following tips:
- Proper sizing: Ensure that your ERV is appropriately sized for your building or home. An undersized unit will not provide sufficient ventilation, while an oversized unit will consume unnecessary energy. Consult with a professional to determine the right size for your specific space.
- Proper installation: Proper installation is crucial for optimal performance. Follow manufacturer guidelines and consider hiring a certified HVAC technician to install the ERV system correctly. A well-installed system operates more efficiently, reducing energy costs over time.
- Regular maintenance: Schedule regular maintenance for your ERV system to keep it operating at peak efficiency. Simple tasks such as cleaning filters, inspecting fans, and checking heat exchangers can prevent the buildup of dust and debris, ensuring the unit works optimally.
- Optimize operational settings: Familiarize yourself with the various operational settings of your ERV. Many units have customizable settings that allow you to tailor ventilation rates based on specific needs, such as high occupancy periods or times of the day when outdoor air quality is optimal.
- Invest in energy-efficient ERV models: When selecting an ERV, consider models with high energy efficiency ratings. Energy Star certified ERVs, for example, are designed to meet stringent energy efficiency guidelines.
Last Few Words
Energy recovery ventilators can work wonders for the ambient air inside your house.
However, make sure to choose a suitable unit for yourself. Here are some of the factors you need to consider when investing in an ERV.
- Moisture transfer efficiency – does the energy recovery ventilator manage moisture along with heat?
- Filtration efficiency – how well does the machine filter pollutants and contaminants?
- Ease of installation and service – is the unit easy to install and service?
We hope after reading this guide to the best energy recovery ventilators for your money, you have all the knowledge you need to select the most suitable unit for you.
Best of luck!