Two weeks ago a team from Newell Instruments showed up at the Smith House—the passive house I designed and built as my residence several years ago in Urbana, Ill.– with a new appliance. A day later, Smith house had been upgraded from a European ventilator to the very first “magic box” designed and built in America. (If all goes as planned, the new device will be marketed and distributed by a Newell division called Equinox Built Environment Engineering, www.buildequinox.com).
It was a big day, and the culmination of lots of hard work. Four years earlier Ty and Ben Newell (the father and son team behind Newell Instruments) presented in Duluth at the 3rd Annual North American Passive House Conference on their invention in progress: the CERV (for conditioning energy recovery ventilator) was still a cardboard and duct-tape prototype at that point. Now the unit is in its last phases of the Underwriters Laboratory approval process and is nearly market ready!
During the 7th North American Passive House Conference in Denver (September 27-30) the Newells will present the finished product to the passive house community for the first time ever. It truly is a magic box: a compact heat pump unit designed to integrate the challenges of complex climates for heating, cooling and dehumidification and the need for ventilation.
Its capacity is roughly 1000-1200 Watts and it is designed to be modular; if one unit does not suffice for your project(very cold climate, very hot climate or larger project), simply add a second one.
In the Smith House scenario, the unit is being tested in a passive house application for the first time. In addition, it will be coupled with an earth tube and that will be monitored. Will pre-heating and/or pre-cooling and passive dehumidification add to the capacity? We’ll find out—and report on it in Denver.
In the meantime, we are all very excited and are watching and hoping for another few 90+ degree days in late August to put the CERV to the test.
A final price has not been decided yet but will certainly be very competitive with piecing individucal components together. One small unit will take care of all: heating, cooling, ventilation and dehumidification. Might we finally tunnel through the cost barrier?
Hope to see you in Denver and stay tuned here at the blog.