What Are Smart Vents & The Technologies That Power Them

iDISRUPTED Climate & Security What Are Smart Vents & The Technologies That Power Them

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The air you breathe is a precious commodity.

The United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) estimates that Americans spend about 90% of their lives indoors.

This is concerning, considering the pollution can be 10 times higher here than outdoors.

Smart technology has improved and enhanced many areas of our lives. Some examples include smart home hubs, smart thermostats and smart lighting.

In an effort to control indoor air quality and reduce the risk of respiratory disease, many homeowners are turning to smart vents for better ventilation in their homes.

If you want to know what they are and what powers them, read on.

Traditional Ventilation Systems

In order to discuss the smart options, it’s important to first understand the mainstream versions.

A traditional ventilation system is a type of heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC) system that uses fans to distribute conditioned air throughout a building.

Traditional HVAC systems are used in homes and businesses to control the temperature and humidity inside buildings.

  • There are two main types of traditional HVAC systems: forced-air and hot-water.
  • Forced-air systems use fans to blow air through ducts into rooms.

Hot-water systems use water pipes to circulate hot water through radiators or baseboard heaters in each room, which then warms the surrounding air.

Forced-air systems are less expensive to install than hot-water systems, but they can be less energy-efficient. Hot-water systems are more expensive to install, but they are more energy-efficient.

So there is a trade off that only you the consumer can decide on what is best for you and your home.

What Are Smart Vents?

Smart vents have the ability to be controlled remotely, whenever you want them to be opened or closed.

You can do so using the downloadable app on your smartphone, regardless of where you are at the time.

  • Smart vents have the ability to track data and adjust themselves accordingly.
  • The systems can detect when you are home or away and turn themselves on or off.

By optimizing the performance of your HVAC system you can save money on your utility bills.

Noise can be a key consideration when thinking about your home HVAC system. It’s possible to go online and discover quiet inline fans or even silenced versions. They provide powerful airflow, stealth and super-efficiency.

Your HVAC system may struggle to keep up during peak hours of the day. This could be when everyone arrives home from school/work, causing an increase in utility costs.

By using smart vents, homeowners are able to set schedules for their vents which causes them to only operate during off-peak hours. 

Whole-House Ventilation Systems

Smart ventilation systems come in two major types: whole-house ventilation and spot ventilation. Whole-house ventilation will provide every room with access to fresh air. 

Passive whole-house systems rely on natural forces like wind and negative pressure (or suction).

These systems include things such as attic vents and ridge/soffit vents. They’re easy to install but don’t work well if you live in a region with high humidity levels.

This is because they can pull water into your insulation, potentially causing mold growth over time.

Active whole-house ventilation systems include things such as whole-house fans and heat recovery ventilators (HRVs). These systems work with your home’s existing HVAC system and send fresh air into the ductwork. They’re more expensive than passive whole-house ventilation systems, but can be integrated into a smart thermostat. When this occurs it will automatically turn on when your AC is running, and help save you money.

Spot Ventilation Systems

Spot ventilation refers to only certain rooms needing fresh air (e.g. to remove cooking smells and moisture), for example, bathrooms or kitchens. There are two types of spot ventilation systems:

Whole-House Exhaust Fans

They’re installed in the attic and pull air from the bathroom/s and kitchen. They work best if you have a central exhaust fan that vents to the outside. If you don’t have one, whole-house exhaust fans can create negative pressure in your home (which can cause moisture problems).

Bathroom/Kitchen Fans

These fans attach directly to the stove or bathroom sink. They’re powered by electricity or batteries, and come with either manual or automatic controls. Some models also include a light.

The Technologies Used

There are many technologies used in smart venting, for instance:

  • standard infrared switches
  • Wi-Fi enabled devices like Nest Protect products
  • Amazon Alexa products
  • Google Assistant products
  • ZigBee technology (Zigbee is an open global standard designed for use with low-power digital radios)
  • Z wave technology
  • Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE) technology

The Technologies That Power Them

Here are some key examples:

  • Fans – Fans provide airflow by either creating positive pressure inside a room or negative pressure outside a room.
  • Air exchangers – They exchange stale air from your home with fresh outdoor air to maintain a healthy indoor environment.
  • Heat recovery ventilators (HRV) and energy-recovery ventilators (ERV)- These whole-house ventilation systems recover the heat from flue gases, which can make them more efficient than fans alone. They work best in colder climates because they provide both heating and cooling.

Solar Powered Fans, Battery-Operated Sensors and Remote Controls With Thermostat Setpoints

A solar-powered fan is an example of a solar-powered technology used in some types of homes and buildings. It uses the sun’s energy to create airflow throughout spaces such as attics, garages or basements without using electricity from the power grid. A battery-operated sensor can be placed on one side of a room and it will detect when someone enters. It can automatically turn on or off other devices such as lights or an HVAC system, depending on whether people are present.

A remote control with thermostat setpoints allows homeowners to change settings by pressing buttons instead of manually adjusting them. The latter can prove time-consuming, especially if someone needs to make multiple changes during the day.

Smart vents with these technologies allow users more convenience and control over their home’s environment. There’s always a temptation to buy the latest gadgets and technology, but in this case there are tangible benefits for any homeowner. This kind of tech is here to stay, and it will only become more advanced as time develops.

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