Here are a set of plans for a relatively easy to build Heat Recovery Ventilator that should provide good performance and a good life.
An HRV pulls fresh air into the house and exhausts stale air to the outside. In the HRV, the fresh and stale air pass through a heat exchanger that recovers most of the heat remaining in the stale air to heat the incoming fresh outside air -- thus providing a significant saving in energy to heat the incoming air.
Thanks very much to Paul in BC for digging up this article and mailing me a copy!
This is an article that was published in the 80's and provides good detail on building a Heat Recovery Ventilator from Coroplast sheets.
The HRV is not an easy environment for materials in that water and even ice may be present at times. I think that the Coroplast sheets should stand up well to this environment, but the plywood housing may have a limited life. One suggestion I'd offer is to consider using Medium Density Overlay (MDO) plywood for the housing MDO is a high quality plywood with resin impregnated face sheets -- it is used for chemical tanks and concrete forms it is quite durable and water resistant. Most lumber yards can get it -- it costs about twice as much as regular plywood.
Tthe article is an excerpt from Solplan6: An Air Exchanger for Energy Efficient Well-Sealed Houses by Robert Besant -- this was a set of plans that covered both building the heat exchanger and also provided material on blower selection. This set of plans used to be available for a small fee, but (as far as I can tell) is no longer offered -- if you have any leads on finding these (or other HRV plans), please let me know.
Note that this kind of ventilator will only be needed on a house that is very tight. Most homes have more than enough natural leakage to provide fresh air. Depending on the fans chosen, the ventilator will use a non-negligible amount of electricity, so it should not be used unless your house is tight enough to actually need the ventilation.
More on HRV's ...
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December 7, 2012