Smart Cocoon

How to Fix the HVAC Airflow Goldilocks Problem

HVAC Efficiency

In our previous blog, we discussed what causes our HVAC system to unevenly distribute air throughout our homes, causing some rooms to be too hot and others to be too cold. Many people try to solve the problem of having substantial temperature differences by installing a smart thermostat and they think if the thermostat has an extra temperature sensor, they can control each room’s temperature. But in reality, they only monitor the situation and basically there is nothing more to do other than heating up/ cooling down the entire house to get one room to the desired temperature. This is exactly what people do manually when one room is cold in winter, they crank up the entire house just for that one room. Now let’s look at some better solutions to fix the problem.

What Solutions Are Available?

  1. Get professional help from HVAC contractors
    This is the most effective solution but is very costly, and usually requires a substantial amount of construction work. For many homeowners it seems better to ignore the fact that one or more areas in their home is uncomfortable than pay an exorbitant amount of money. Unfortunately, construction work is inevitable for cases such as disconnected or bad implementation of ducts.
  2. Use Dampers to Block Vents with excess airflow
    Some people try to solve the problem by blocking vents. This is a good solution when dealing with areas with excess flow. For instance, if there is only one room in the house that gets too hot during the winter because of excess flow, partially blocking the air will help to reduce the temperature in that specific room. There are a number of different types of dampers in the market to help homeowners overcome this problem. Conventional vent grills that include a damper to be controlled manually and limit the air flow. Another option are smart vents which sync with a temperature sensor in the room and will automatically close and open the flow based on the desired temperature set by the user for that particular room which basically do the same job of the conventional dampers, automatically.

    When dealing with rooms that do not get enough flow, dampers are not as effective as they should be. Some people try to direct more flow to those rooms by blocking the air in other rooms and basically “passively” manage the airflow. This is an ineffective solution, as even some of the industry studies, show:

    • a. Blocking some of the vents does not necessarily direct the flow where it’s needed. For instance, if more flow is needed in the second bedroom located on the second floor, blocking the air in the basement will only increase the flow in the main floor. More vents would need to be blocked in this case.
    • b. It is not recommended to block more than 30% of your home’s vents at once. This will put the main blower under too much pressure and could seriously damage the HVAC system.
    • c. Our studies, performed at York University (Toronto, Canada), also showed that this approach can indeed lead to creating some significant amount of energy loss and inefficiency by trapping the energized air in areas of the ducting system that are not even needed, causing energy dissipation from the body of the constantly energized ducting system.
    • d. Using smart dampers instead of manual one does not usually offer significant improvements and they are expensive options. The cost of installing smart dampers for most of the vents in a house starts from $2k.
  3. Booster fans For the rooms and areas with weak flow, booster fans are one of the best options as it is almost as effective as having a HVAC professional fix your system but requires less construction and is less expensive. Booster fans increase the flow in one vent by sucking air from your ducts and pushing it out into the room (“Active” management of airflow). This not only helps bring more air to rooms in need, but also reduces flow in rooms with too much air, balancing the airflow in your home and more importantly they offer a significant amount of energy savings. However, the only way for this solution to work as effectively as possible is for it to be completely in sync with the main HVAC unit to boost only conditioned air into the room. Otherwise, they can make the rooms even colder in winters by blowing unconditioned, cold air. This synchronization is hard to achieve for most types of booster fans.

    There are 3 categories for this product:
    in-line booster fan, conventional register booster fan and smart booster fans.

  • a. Inline-booster fans: An inline-booster fan is a fan that is installed inside the duct system itself.
    Inline Booster Fan
    Pros:
    • - They create a very strong boost to airflow
    • - Are hidden from sight by being installed inside the wall
    • - Their noise level can be controlled
    • - Usually they are hard wired to the main system to get feedback so they can be synced
    Cons:
    • - They are expensive
    • - Installation process is very costly and can require major construction work

  • b. Conventional register booster fans: A conventional register booster fan is a small unit that is a replacement of the existing vent grill, in the rooms that need more airflow. They have an built-in thermostat that has to be adjusted based on the duct temperature in order to work in sync with the main system.
  • Pros:
    • - They are inexpensive
    • - Easy to install; no construction work required (DIY Type of devices)
    Cons:
    • - They cannot be synced with the main HVAC system because there is no real feedback.
    • - They really only effectively work in the summer since blowing the air will still provide circulation even if not conditioned air.
    • - Sometimes they can be noisy.
    • - They have their own grill and the user is forced to use that instead of what existed in the house.
    • - Adjustment of the internal thermostat has to be repeated a few times a year since the temperature in the duct varies in different seasons and even different times of the day.

  • c. Ai powered (WIFI) Smart Booster Fan: SmartCocoon is the first company that has come up with this new generation of booster fans. We believe our solution is by far the most effective solution when it comes to the lack of airflow in one or more areas. Like conventional booster fans they are installed under the vent grill only in the rooms that need more air flow.
  • SmartCocoon Smart Booster Fan
    Pros:
    • - They can be synced with the main HVAC system by:
      • - connecting to the existing smart thermostat’s platforms or;
      • - If there is no smart thermostat, the fan can be synced with the system by using its own internal smart Ai algorithm.
    • - They are using low voltage fans which have lower noise level
    • They are designed to be placed under the existing vent grill.
    • - Works for all temperatures and seasons.
    • - Saves energy and reduces your home’s electricity cost. Our studies at York University (Toronto, Canada) show that our solution offers somewhere between 20-40% even by just adding a couple of units in one house.
    • - They can allow different temperature settings for each room/area. It helps fix the temperature in the problem room(s) rather than causing your entire home to become too hot or cold. This also help you to further reduce your energy consumption because you won’t need to run your HVAC system as long or as hot or cold as you would prior to installing the booster fans
    Cons:
    • - We are yet to identify

      Unlike the other solutions listed, smart booster fans can actually control the situation instead of just monitoring it by acting like the arms and legs of the thermostats and HVAC systems. If you’re ready to have your home finally feel “just right,” purchase our smart booster fans today! You can purchase them from our website here or on Amazon.ca.