Saturday, June 3, 2023

Stop choking: the difference between a breather and a recuperator


Alas, problems with ventilation in our homes are not uncommon lately. Errors in projects, spontaneous redevelopment and negligence of builders lead to the fact that the air in the room stagnates. As a result, headaches, fatigue and deterioration of well-being. Fortunately, it is possible to solve the problem without serious interventions in the building structure with the help of breathers or recuperators. What is it and what is the difference – in this article.

What is a breather
The lack of supply ventilation in the presence of exhaust ventilation is a common phenomenon: even Soviet engineers assumed that fresh air should enter dwellings through windows and vents. You can do this today, but this is not the best solution. First, the outdoor air is not always as clean as we would like. And, secondly, sitting under such a “influx” in the cold season is a sure way to catch a cold.

The Breezer is just designed to eliminate the problem – in fact, this is the simplest supply ventilation system with air filtration and some additional options such as ionization or heating.

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Structurally, it is a segment of the ventilation duct, in which the duct fan and filters are installed. The breather is installed in a hole made right in the wall of the room and provides fresh air from the street.

Many breathers are equipped with a heater and can heat the incoming air. More sophisticated devices can ionize and aromatize the air for additional purification and freshness. The most expensive breathers are fully automated, contain a processor and a set of sensors – temperature, carbon dioxide, humidity, and so on.

What is a recuperator
The recuperator carries out both the inflow of fresh air and the outflow of stagnant air. Thus, the heat exchanger can solve the problem of “dead” rooms, not equipped with ventilation at all, since it combines both supply and exhaust. Moreover, the heat exchanger is able to transfer part of the heat from the exhaust air to the supply air in the cold season and vice versa – in the warm season. This significantly reduces the cost of heating and air conditioning.

There are various types of recuperators, for example, rotary, plate, chamber. They differ in the design of the heat exchanger, in which the heated air transfers heat to the cold. The most efficient are heat exchangers with separate heat exchangers and an intermediate heat carrier, but this is the most expensive solution and is rarely used in domestic heat exchangers. Most often, supply and exhaust air are passed through one plate or tube heat exchanger in different directions.

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The efficiency of recuperators is quite high. For example, at an outside temperature of -18 ºС and an internal temperature of +25 ºС, the most efficient models can warm up the incoming air to +3 ºС. Thus, heating should raise the temperature of the incoming air not by 43 ºС (18 + 25), but only by 22. That is, the energy consumption for heating will be two times lower.

Interaction with house ventilation
The breather is only a supply ventilation, and for normal operation it requires an exhaust. In the absence of an exhaust hood in the room, it is necessary to ensure the outflow of air from it, otherwise the breather will be ineffective. In extreme cases, you can simply open the window or window.

The recuperator, on the contrary, is designed for the absence of other ventilation systems. In apartment buildings with their powerful draft in exhaust ventilation, the heat exchanger may be generally inefficient – all the supply air will go into the house exhaust and there will be no recovery. However, you can always simply close the exhaust vent.

Air quality
Breezers, as a rule, are equipped with fairly powerful fans. Therefore, they are able to bring a large volume of air into the room, “pushing” it through a complex system of filters. Some breathers are equipped with HEPA filters up to class H13, which allows you to achieve almost sterile cleanliness of the air in the room, completely removing dust and allergens from it. For additional air disinfection, the breather can be equipped with an ionizer.

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If you suffer from allergies or chronic respiratory problems, a breather can make your life a lot easier.

Recuperators, on the contrary, may not be equipped with fans at all and work due to natural air exchange. In addition, the heat exchanger of the heat exchanger creates a significant resistance to the air flow, which complicates the installation of additional filters. Ultimately, it all depends on the specific model – many recuperators contain fans and a filter system, but HEPA filters, ionizers and flavors are rare in them.

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Both the breather and the recuperator dry the air. More precisely, they do not dry it themselves, the humidity decreases due to the natural loss of moisture along with warm air, which is not replenished by the influx of moisture in cold air (at the same relative humidity, the amount of moisture in warm air is greater). The heat exchanger slightly benefits from the formation of condensate in the heat exchanger, which remains in the room and partially evaporates back. But this does not completely save the situation, and without a humidifier it will not be possible to maintain normal humidity in the room.

Purchase and maintenance cost
Breathers and recuperators are devices of approximately the same price class. The amount of electricity consumed depends on the power of the fans and on the presence of a heater (in the breather). Recuperators consume 5-40 W, breathers without a heater – 10-100 W, breathers with a heater – 600-1500 W.

Breezers can be more expensive to maintain due to the need to periodically replace HEPA filters, but this cannot be called a disadvantage.

Both the breather and the heat exchanger need to periodically clean the mechanical cleaning filters. At the heat exchanger, it is occasionally necessary to clean the heat exchanger as well – dust deposited on its walls impairs heat transfer and reduces its efficiency.

The noise level depends on the power of the fan. Since the fans in the breathers are on average more powerful, they make more noise. But it depends on the specific model – if the fan in the heat exchanger is more powerful than in the breather, it will also make more noise.

In any case, the noise of this type of equipment is low and does not exceed the sound of a working refrigerator in volume. In most models, the fan speed can be changed – this will reduce noise to a minimum at night.

The Breezer provides the room with clean air, but requires an exhaust fan. Most effective for improving the atmosphere in an urban apartment building, it will be a great addition to an air conditioner and humidifier.

The recuperator organizes ventilation in a separate room, minimizing heat loss. Most effective in country houses to reduce heating costs and maintain a comfortable temperature in the off-season. For the same purpose, it can also be used in an apartment, but with an existing hood it may turn out to be ineffective.


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