The best solution to indoor air contaminants is dilution, by a long shot. This solution works much better than air purifiers. An energy recovery ventilator (ERV) or heat recovery ventilator (HRV) can be used to overturn a lot of air and drastically reduce the indoor pollution levels. You should find out which is better for your climate, but ERV will work for most people.
This article is about how to install an ERV in a portable way – in a window. Please note I’m not making a call on whether this will be allowed by your landlord or codes, that part is up to you.
Expert Review: This article was reviewed by Luke Skaff, Electrical Engineer
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This is far better than just opening a window and running your exhaust fans because it brings in air that is closer to the indoor temp and humidity than the outdoor temperature. This also brings in quite a lot of air, it is variable speed and can bring in 30, 20, or 10 CFM (cubic feet per minute). In a small space that is a lot!
The Panasonic WhisperComfort
Panasonic WhisperComfort Energy Recovery Ventilator (ERV) is a stand-alone air exchanger that provides balanced ventilation.
WhisperComfort ERV is listed for ceiling or wall mount applications. So if you own a home or have permission to install this in a ceiling or wall it will provide you with lots of air turnover.
If you don’t own the home and want to install this in a window this article will explain how to do that.
Now this photo obviously isn’t using a window but the setup will be the same.
How to Set up The ERV in a Window
I mounted the WhisperComfort on a kitchen cart, the type that comes on wheels (kind of like this). I drilled two holes in the wood top layer of the kitchen cart for the ducts to go through. The cart should be higher than the window so that the ducts can run under it.
I bought 4-inch metal flex duct and attached them to the intake and exhaust with tape.
In my case, I drilled holes in the trailer wall but you will want to exhaust those out of a window. So your window needs to open 4 inches, ideally horizontally but vertically can work too.
For a window, you can buy a hard plastic air conditioner window kit like this (pictured left). (Your window would have to open around 6 inches for this).
Or you could buy the more flexible option. This is a TU fabric window kit (pictured left). And that might be easier to adjust to the 4-inch ducts.
However this only comes with one hole, you would have to cut a second hole and then seal that up with lots of tape.
Have an electrician set up the wiring so that you can plug in the ERV. Make sure it’s long enough to reach the nearest outlet. (Normally this is hardwired in, so it doesn’t come with a regular plug to plug it into an outlet).
Other Things to Note:
1. The extremely sensitive may need to offgas the ERV first by running it for a while before using it, as all new appliances have some plastic odors.
2. This brings in a LOT of air from outside. You will definitely get dilution, but this may be too much air in a very small trailer or a very small bedroom. You could run it on a timer that connects to an outlet to pulse it or run it on a programmable timer outlet that is based on temperature.
3. The air it brings in will not be as warm or as cool as your indoor air, nor as warm or cool as your outdoor air, but it does help mediate the temperate (and humidity).
4. This will only work if your outdoor air is clean and better than your indoor air.
Corinne Segura is a Building Biologist Practitioner with 8 years of experience helping others create healthy homes.