technology profile – clean air
high-end kitchens, spas and baths require more advanced HVAC system management and control.
By STEVE PANOSIAN
IN THIS SERIES OF ARTICLES on indoor air quality, we’ll discuss why it is important that high-end kitchens, spa and baths, and workout rooms require more advanced HVAC system management and control. My last article on customizing indoor air quality underscored the staggering amount of time we spend indoors and the necessity for proper air filtering and air exchange to improve air quality. TD believes your clients will understand the health and environmental benefit of a home’s HVAC and air purification system goes beyond meeting personal preferences and design features of the home.
comfort through history was always the objective
Long before electricity, the desire for indoor temperature control began in ancient Rome. For cooling, the aqueduct system circulated cool water through the walls of homes. For heating their homes, bathing and cooking, the Romans explored the geothermal benefits using hot springs. Fast forward time to the advent of electricity, it was a little over a 100 years ago when Willis Carrier invented the first air-conditioning system originally designed to reduce humidity in a commercial building he worked at. Carrier introduced commercial A/C cooling systems to movie theaters where the masses enjoyed blockbusters on hot summer days. Around the early 50s and the time of the first Color TV airings, Carrier’s first central air-conditioner for the home hit the market. For heating, born were the first modern geothermal heat pumps commercialized by J. Donald Kroeker in the year 1946 that were rather quickly installed into homes by the end of that decade. Amazing are our ancestors and their quest for harnessing the natural energy provided by the sun and mother Earth and the quest today for addressing a living environment that is comfortable, sustainable and healthier.
indoor air quality
The comfort in knowing that the air quality in the home is as healthy or healthier than outdoor air is directly related to the HVAC and Air Purification System design. As we mentioned in our first article on Customizing Indoor Air Quality, passive house construction approaches being airtight, and while great for lowering heating and cooling costs, it can lead to poor indoor air quality and an unhealthy home environment. All new home and renovations, besides meeting code, should consider an engineered air exchange and replenishment filtration system that measurably improves a home’s air quality. Introducing the benefits of a custom designed HVAC system that features air purification and independent zone control are especially important in premium amenities like super kitchens, built-in bath spas and pools, dedicated laundry rooms, and workout spaces.
The kitchen is perhaps the largest contributor of heat, humidity and pollutants in a home. Any home built with commercial appliances that require a powerful range hood or kitchens designed with multiple ovens, the home’s ventilation and air recovery system must be carefully engineered. The design of the kitchen and its appliances determine the exhaust system required to remove the unwanted air from the cooking area. It stands to reason that an equal volume of air must be returned into the home and that air needs to be conditioned and filtered, while minimizing energy loss. Because home constructions are getting tighter and range hood fans are getting more powerful, to properly maintain air quality the ventilation of an air purification system designed for larger exhaust strategies must manage what is defined as “make-up air.”
make-up air systems
Make-up air systems filter fresh air into the home and manage the home’s indoor air pressure to keep pollutants out. Unbalanced air pressure occurs when the supply ventilation systems pushes air into the home causing positive pressure, and conversely, ventilation fans and range hood fans exhaust stale/polluted indoor air to the outside causing negative air pressure. Unless the exhausted air is replaced by fresh outdoor air that is filtered, problems develop:
EFFECTS OF NEGATIVE AIR PRESSURE (SUPPLY SYSTEMS)
– Forces warm/humid air into wall cavities, resulting in potential mold/ mildew and structural issues
– Unconditioned and typically uncontrolled air is pushed into the home, resulting in increased energy costs
EFFECTS OF NEGATIVE AIR PRESSURE (EXHAUST SYSTEMS)
– Exhaust fans unable to work at full, rated capacity
– Unconditioned and typically uncontrolled air is pulled into the home, resulting in increased energy costs
– Draws hot/humid air inside, causing mold/mildew and structural damage
bath, spa and kitchen air recovery solutions
Providing make-up air for exhaust devices and controlling it requires a synchronized damper system. The Broan® Automatic Make-Up Air Dampers are the first to provide synchronized operation for kitchen, bath and whole house ventilation products. Installation is simple and requires no special wiring. The intelligent design options ensure optimum performance in a variety of installations and applications. Broan provides online tools that are based on state codes “Range Hood Make-Up Air Specifier” guides the design for the right make-up air damper system in any home.
FILTERED MAKE-UP AIR SYSTEM BENEFITS
– Replaces air exhausted by range hoods, bathroom exhaust fans and clothes dryer vents
– Cleaner, fresher smelling home with less dust
– Prevents chemicals, pesticides, pollen, mold spores and other pollutants from entering the home
– Reduces drafts from windows and entrance doors and dangerous back-drafting from flues
Since most residential systems use the HVAC air handler fan to pull in clean outside air from a duct through the wall or attached to a foundation vent, this air is filtered just before it enters the air handler and mixed with the return air and then dispersed evenly throughout the building through the supply duct system. Fresh air enters the duct before the air handler fan which reduces the volume of return air being pulled from inside the home. Since the supply air exceeds the return air, a positive pressure is maintained in the home when the HVAC system is in operation. Positive pressure reduces infiltration of outside air from undesirable locations and helps keep irritants and other pollutants from entering the home. A filtered fresh air intake system is sometimes referred to as passive ventilation as it doesn’t require electricity, it’s quiet and inexpensive to operate. Passive ventilation is also low maintenance because it doesn’t have moving parts and the only maintenance needed is periodical cleaning of the filters.
Achieving a comfortable home environment needs to factor the local climate needs and larger kitchens and homes with bath spas. Since most modern HVAC systems offer optional humidity control features that include humidifiers and dehumidifiers that can be added depending on climate, these systems provide the ability to automatically control the humidity levels throughout your home when your HVAC system is running.
HVAC systems that are designed to control the cooling or heating in different areas of a home is achieved by controlling valves or dampers within the ductwork. These dampers are used to selectively block airflow. Zoned air systems can save on energy costs as they are designed to be programmed to control which areas are heated or cooled at specific times.
whole-home automation and HVAC control
In speaking to both technology designers and HVAC installers, integrating several different HVAC solutions with the popular home automation control companies has been and continues to be a complicated task for some and for several different reasons. While there are solutions for integrating control for air conditioning, custom integration remains an opportunity for deeper integration into one control platform. According to Savant’s Product Evangelist Vice President, George Katsiris, “all too often, customers use different apps to control and monitor the entire home separately from the app that controls the HVAC system”. George explained in some cases this is a mindset and preference, but in most cases comes from lack of awareness that there is a better way, especially where multiple HVAC subsystems are used. “Savant offers seamless integration and unified, easy to use interfaces including our App and our thermostat, which acts not only as a way to control temperature, but as another interface to control your entire home.”
VISION: Move beyond the Internet of Things (IoT) to deliver the Internet of Climate (IoC).
MISSION: Connect the traditional world of HVAC with the future of IoT, enabling HVAC to play a central role in smart buildings and smart homes.
CoolAutomation is an Israeli-based design and development firm specializing in Heating, Ventilating and Air Conditioning (HVAC) integration solutions. The company’s products offer plug-n-play virtualization and connectivity for all types of the advanced VRF/V and Mini/Muti-Split HVAC systems and from all vendors, coupled with an out-of-the-box cloud-based solution for control, monitoring and service for these systems. The company is led by a unique team of seasoned entrepreneurs and software, hardware and HVAC experts. The company’s vision is one of creating an interoperable world of Internet of Climate (IoC), where connecting, controlling and optimizing HVAC is simple and cost effective to all parties involved. CoolAutomation’s tools allow configuration with the leading brands of whole home automation like Control4, Crestron, Savant, Lutron, RTI and others.
The closed nature of VRF/V and Mini/Muti-Split HVAC systems and architecture makes seamless integration between home automation systems and these advanced HVAC systems extremely difficult to implement. Integrators find themselves having to reinvent the integration process, including time consuming coding on almost every installation. In many cases integrators are opting out of this quagmire and declining HVAC integrations, leaving their customers with partial or no solution. The company also is focused on offering the industry an answer by offering a robust and bidirectional integration devices and software that dramatically simplify Inverter-based HVAC integration.
The company’s latest offerings support all leading HVAC brands, such as Daikin, Mitsubishi Electric, Trane, Toshiba Carrier, Fujitsu, LG, York/Hitachi, Samsung and many more. Koen Pepermans, CoolAutomation Executive Vice President Sales and Business Development shared his insights, “Home and building owners worldwide are looking to continuously improve their control and energy efficiency. The challenge today is to accommodate the increasing demand from midsized HVAC system owners with a reliable solution for home automation, including HVAC, all from a single control panel and incorporating voice control.” The company believes this means more projects for integrators that cover all types of HVAC systems for an industry that just keeps growing.
QUICKLY AND SIMPLY INTEGRATE any VRF or split climate systems into a native Home Automation interface.
OPTIMIZE SERVICE based on real-time and historical system data analytics.
STAY ON TOP OF ALL CONNECTED HVAC SYSTEMS across locations through a single interface, optimizing performance, operation, and energy efficiency.
VISION: An environment exactly how you want it.
Whole Home Solutions by Lennox can be custom designed to meet virtually any technology or design preference. The iComfort S30 series is Lennox’s most complete HVAC and control solution that is also compatible with the leading AI controllers — Alexa, Google Assistant, and Apple HomeKit and IFTTT compatible.
Used in combination with premium Lennox® equipment, iHarmony®
zoning puts heating and cooling where you want it, redirecting airflow to specific areas of your home as needed. Individual rooms and zones set to your temperature preferences stay consistent, from floor to floor and room to room.
Consistent with the focus on the importance and benefits of an overall healthier home living environment, it begins with an HVAC system design that meets the expectations for addressing whole home control of heat and cooling, humidity control, monitoring, and adding the ability to address individual zones and rooms. A custom HVAC system will involve options based on balancing preferences with the different available technologies. The ultimate design aim is meeting the design promise.
The Ultimate Comfort System™ designed for the entire home creates an environment of perfectly heated and cooled air.
Begins with the PureAir™ air purification system that uses three types of technology to battle all three types of indoor air pollution. This central whole home purification solution manages the whole home air quality and eliminates the need for single room only solutions.
Climate IQ® Technology adapts to individual preferences and needs, and to any part of the country. Dehumidification is controlled by choosing the “Dry”, “Moderate” or “Humid” setting, and the system will adjust airspeed to either increase or decrease a room or zone’s humidity as needed.
Precise Comfort® variable speed airflow, combined with variable capacity heating and cooling, keeps the temperature held exactly where you want. This system works to eliminate unintended microclimates in the home or the sensing temperature changes in one room or area of the home.
Custom room control is also possible for individualized zone temperature control of preference for any room in the home with Lennox iHarmony®.
In closing, it’s more than apparent that a healthier home environment will benefit everyone. Our next article on air purification will focus on universal system integration and control options, multi-technology synergies, and how to complement a home’s air purification by choosing from a variety of “healthy plants.”