3 Tips for Designing More Efficient Commercial Ventilation Systems

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Ask any mechanical engineer what factors most influence their ventilation decisions and they’ll consistently say:

  1.  CFM rates outlined by code requirements &

  2. Space or location constraints.

But one of the performance factors most commonly compromised is efficiency.

While engineers designing high-performance buildings have long sought energy efficient solutions, this trend towards efficiency is expanding industry wide. In fact, the latest ASHRAE 62.1 standard features several changes that reflect this shift.

Engineers looking for ways to improve efficiency can gain inspiration from projects like Second and Delaware. This multi-family apartment community in downtown Kansas City will be the world’s largest Passive-House certified structure. Passive-House Institute is the leading standard in energy-efficient construction, superior even to the highest LEED standards. This structure is projected to consume 90 percent less energy than comparable buildings.

3 Floor-to-Ceiling Tips for Improving Efficiency

1) Use EC Motor Technology for Energy Savings

Not all ERVs are designed to keep up with evolving energy efficiency standards. In fact, most commercial ventilation solutions are designed to meet minimum codes and require engineers to add specific features to the design, such as Electronically Commutated (EC) motors, to improve efficiency.

EC motors ensure outstanding energy efficiency even at low speeds, helping to keep operating costs low. These motors not only require less energy, but also use three-phase power to vary the airflow if variable airflow is needed. As a result, the need for variable frequency drives (VFDs) is eliminated. 

Motor noise is non-existent across the entire speed range. The EC motor's built-in electronics makes the motor a versatile method of speed control. When demand for ventilation is low, such as at night, very low operating speeds can be selected. The resonance levels, typical for a VFD controller, or “phase noise” does not exist.

Energy-saving solutions like EC motors come standard in all Systemair ERVs so that engineers are not burdened with having to customize their designs for energy savings.

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2) Consider Environmental Factors

In cold-weather climates, HVAC systems consume large amounts of energy simply trying to temper the indoor environment for improved comfort. The energy costs are even higher during spring and fall due to the variation in temperature from day to night. 

Ventilation systems featuring pre-heaters can cut some of these costs, offering significant energy savings. The ROI in cost-savings from ERVs with pre-heaters is particularly noticeable in regions with more extreme weather like northern regions or southern parts of the U.S. 

The pre-heaters temper the cool outdoor air before it enters the energy recovery wheel so there is less of a load on the heating system to heat the indoor environment. This enables the system to perform efficiently in extremely cold climates, ensuring a continuous supply of tempered air. 

3) Set Automated Controls for Continuous Optimizations

Fluctuations in the indoor and outdoor environment can oftentimes cause inefficient operation. The most effective methods for optimizing performance for changes in temperature, humidity and occupancy is to utilize an integrated control system.

For example, remote mounted controls come standard in the Topvex FR and Topvex TR ERVs to pre-program airflow, duct pressure, temperatures, heating/cooling recovery and operating times. This control panel helps to create a comfortable indoor environment at the lowest possible operating costs. Additionally, the panel detects operational issues such as dirty filters to prevent energy-wasting conditions early. 

Talk to Systemair’s ventilation consultants. We'll help you find an energy-efficient ventilation solution for your specific application.

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