DIY ERV (Energy Recovery System)

Today: 7/31/23

Hi all, I’m about to embark on an adventure in ERV (Energy Recovery System) installation! Since we had our siding updated, our home ‘envelope’ is now much tighter and more energy efficient. That means indoor air quality has been noticeably going downhill for us, and we need to do something about it soon.

First things first – some requirements:

  • 120v outlet (yes, check)
  • 2 feet of space between the first bend and the planned location of the ERV (check)
  • Hanging chain? (be back in a minute)

Choosing the right unit was really, really hard because there is very little info out there for the DIY person. I got the Panasonic intelli-ballance because Matt Risinger (home improvement internet personality) recommended it, but it would have been nice to see more reviews of units out there.

And now I wait, and I wait for the unit to arrive on 8/2/23. I’m going to draw some pictures while I wait.

Update 8/3/23

The unit arrived. Here it is sitting under where I plan to hang it in the utility room of our basement.

There are two ways to install this unit. First is by fixing it to studs in a wall which would be ideal from a usage standpoint (with the chain mounted method, you need to crouch under the device to access controls and change filters). Unfortunately, there are no walls with studs where I want to put it, and I don’t trust screwing this heavy device into my cinderblock basement walls, so chains it is. See below:

Mounted, tested and functioning A-Okay

I plan to initially have this unit act as a “stand-alone” device and not tie it into the existing ductwork because A) I won’t have time to do that for at least the next several weeks, and B) I want to see how well this setup functions as a standalone. I’m not sure we really need anything more at this time, but this will be a test period to find out, and I figure, if it works fine as a stand-alone, why fix it?

The exhaust ports will be installed through the window. I won’t have the second out-port until tomorrow as I ordered a size that won’t work with my setup. I went with two of these:

They’re primarily used for dryer and air conditioner window adapters but should work just fine for a starter ERV setup. You might be wondering why I didn’t just bore holes in the wall. I don’t really have time to do that either, and I don’t want to mess up the new siding. Also, if I wanted to move this device to another part of the basement when I have more time to spend on this, I’d then have to move the holes too. This seemed the best option, and I’ll be winter-proofing as well.

The unit is tested and we are now waiting for the other window vent to arrive (one for exhaust and one for intake). I also forgot to pick up some vent insulation in addition to metal tape (the stuff that goes on vent connections).

I’m excited to check back in tomorrow with updates on this project!

Update 8/4/23:

The second window vent adapter arrived. I had to cut them so they would fit into the window, but it works really well.

I switched it on. It’s quiet and seems to work okay. There is a ‘new unit’ smell to it, but that might also be the smell of the pipe glue (exterior intake pipe). Crossing fingers and hoping this will do the trick.

Update 8/5/23:

Wow – it worked! 🙂

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