REHAU ECOAIR in California


I write a lot of letters to suppliers around the world. Right now European technology is cutting edge when it it comes to insulation and resource efficiency. REHAU makes the ECOAIR, a large diameter ventilation system that uses the cooling properties of the earth to either pre-cool summertime air, and likewise warm up air in the winter time. Structural insulated panels are so well sealed, a requirement is continuous mechanical ventilation for human health.

“I would like to purchase the REHAU ECOAIR innovative ground-air heat exchanger. Who is my local distributor in Los Angeles CA area? I am developing a super insulation residential project that could utilize the ECOAIR system. If the system is available, please e-mail ordering and pricing information. Thank you.”

Panasonic DC Ventilation


As summer ramps up, and the daily temperature is over 90°F, I’m trying to improve the natural and mechanical ventilation of this house. I got a super efficient 80 CFM continuous operation fan unit, and wanted to install a three button switch (fan, light, night light on/off separately). Of course this post WWII house cannot accommodate a new switch, so it became apparent I needed to remove the electrical boxes behind the walls and install new wiring. The older wiring is falling apart faster than I anticipated, and it may require a complete rewire and reboxing of this entire structure. Right now all the overhead lights are out of commission, while I get the switches and junction boxes sized to 2008 standards.

I figured out how this ancient house gets electricity. Instead of changing out the wire, i used a special 3M tape designed for wire insulation repair, and got a battery operated continuity tester from sears to check that the wires from the service panel actually delivered power and to what circuit.

Looking for a Refrigerator


Have you ever wondered why there is a broad price range of refrigerators going anywhere from $279 to somewhere over $7,449 for around the same storage size? Once a year Fry’s Electronics offers a Haier 21 cu ft refrigerator for $279 (Black Friday) and on any day you can get a Thermador fridge for around $7,449. A preliminary review might determine that It’s some internal shelving or outward appearance (stainless steel over painted finish) that drive the price upward. Maybe it’s the selection of higher quality components driving energy usage down, but prices higher.

I’ve been looking into refrigeration units, and after a couple of weeks, I’ve found why some brands command super prices, while others are low, and perhaps making the argument that the more expensive unit, will in the long run save more in food quality, than in energy savings. In the USA consumers are more price sensitive, comparing price instead of features. We’ve been conditioned to believe all is marketing speak, and very little differentiates between brands. Consider “Tide” versus “All” detergents. After taking into account scents and sudsing factors, what is the distinguishing characteristic that make anyone buy one or the other? For refrigerators, I initially looked at door style, capacity, and simple features like interior lighting or glass shelving to differentiate units. But some manufacturers do more.

Some super premium units cost more for the brand of course. You need not look further than Sub-Zero or Electrolux to pay double so you can say I have that brand. In the luxury line of appliances looks overtake features as the selling point. I do wish every manufacturer would post why there units command a higher price, but i’ve had to do my own research. The basis for high prices is the number of compressors and evaporators inside the refrigerator, or in other parlance food preservation systems. Bare bone systems have one compressor and a matching evaporator (the part that sucks out the heat to cool either the freezer or refrigerator). Midline systems have a single freezer compressor, but use two evaporators (one for the freezer and one for the refrigerator). High end systems use a dedicated compressor/evaporator cycle for the freezer and another for the refrigerator. So in summary you get a single system, dual evaporator, and dual system. This is the main differentiator between free standing refrigerator units and why the price can vary so much.

Why does it matter how many compressors and how many evaporators a unit shares? Food quality and food preservation. Basically, the better you can control the humidity and temperature inside the fridge, the longer and higher quality food will be. In terms of energy efficiency, energy star rated appliance will save you some, but over a 15 year lifecycle, the price of electricity alone most likely will not exceed $600 from the entry level fridge to the top level unit. If an entry model costs $1,199 and the pro line costs $2,999, electricity cannot make up the additional $1,800 investment. If your food lasts longer and is not mushy or wilted, you save money too. You’ll have to save a lot of fresh produce and deli to make up the difference, but it may just add up.