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HVAC Solutions for Tiny Homes

How Do I Heat & Cool My Tiny Home?

Tiny Homes HVAC OptionsIf you have been paying attention in the greater San Diego area, you may have noticed the uptake of a global trend: tiny homes. We love the tiny house trend and we’re happy to see tiny homes in San Diego because they’re energy efficient & sustainable and because they challenge the status quo and that’s what we’re all about. In their efforts to maintain a lifestyle that is both energy conscious and affordable, many tiny home owners and builders will find themselves with questions:

How can I cool my tiny home?
Which HVAC system is best on such a small scale?
What is the HVAC load calculation for my tiny house?

 

HVAC for small spaces is completely different than a typical home or commercial location. However, fear not – maintaining your thermal comfort index in a tiny home is easy, affordable, and eco-friendly. Here are the major tiny home HVAC solutions you have to consider:

 

Passive Cooling / Passive Heating

 

Passive cooling and passive heating refer to ventilation which is not motivated or generated by an electrical fixture, with ductwork and other technologies. Passive heating or cooling would not require a thermostat or other active controls. Tiny home builders in California may prefer this avenue because they may not be required to make modifications to suit the system, or the modifications will be minimal. For the homeowner, these solutions are often less expensive but can also be less effective. Here are a few examples:

 

  • Windows
    In a tiny home, you’re not cooling a massive space and you can probably achieve a decent cross-breeze just by opening cross-home windows and letting freshness in. The trouble starts when the heat or humidity – especially here in the hot San Diego weather – end up inside your home with no recourse for removal. Also, this doesn’t work as well to heat the home later in the winter.
  • Ceiling Fans
    Ceiling fans can manage to cool or somewhat “heat” your tiny house. While they do not generate their own temperature air, they do effectively circulate cool air and generate a breeze. In the winter, you can turn your ceiling fan in the opposite direction and it will push warm air that has risen to the rafters of your home downward into your living space for an effect of warmth. The drawbacks to ceiling fans include that they are a threat to air quality if not cleaned well and often, they do not generate temperate air so you’re still working, essentially, with the temperature given in the home, and they can sometimes make a small room feel smaller.
  • Floor Fans/Window Fans
    If you are willing to part with the space in your tiny home, a floor fan will make you feel cooler by drawing a draft across your skin. Whether you insert one in a window to draw warm air out from your home or stand one in the room and let it oscillate you will find an increase in comfort. However, these fans struggle to warm up a room and in the warmest of conditions, will struggle to cool it to comfortable levels also.
  • Roof Vents/Attic Fans
    These are a little pricier than the options listed above because they do require a hole to be cut in your roof. One potential drawback to this is that if the unit is not sealed well, moisture leakage can become imminent. That said, these units can warm or cool your tiny home and will provide an increase in ventilation which will increase your comfort. If the weather is hot and heavy, however, this solution will feel uncomfortable.

 Air Conditioner Options for Tiny Houses

Active Cooling / Active Heating

Simply put, when we refer to active cooling or active heating, we are referring to air conditioning units. These will require some type of controls, either by thermostat or on the unit itself. While all of the following examples would require some installation for your tiny house, they are all effective. There are many active air conditioning systems that are highly energy efficient as well. Here are a few examples:

 

  • Window AC Unit
    Say what you will about the aesthetic of a window air conditioner, this solution will work for your tiny home. Of the active cooling solutions here, this is the most affordable and the easiest to install yourself. That said, if your tiny home only has 1-3 windows, as most do, it may feel foreboding to eliminate one by stuffing it with one of these bad boys.

All of the following active cooling systems will require an HVAC technician for installation and maintenance.

  • PTAC
    The term PTAC, which stands for Packaged Terminal Air Conditioner, may not sound familiar but if you’ve stayed in an economy hotel room, you’ve likely used one. This will take up precious wall space in your home but it will effectually heat and cool your space with ease and in 2016, these come in highly energy efficient AC models.
  • RV-Style Roof Unit
    This is another solution, commonly used in RVs, which will both cool your tiny home and heat your tiny home. It is installed into your roof so it takes up less living space. However, if your roof operates at a slant greater than 15 degrees, you will find that this unit shuts down easily. Flat-roof tiny homes will love this option.
  • Mini Split System
    A common mini-me to the traditional air conditioning system, the Mini Split is such that your home will have an interior ventilation unit and an outdoor cooling unit, similar to your large home counterparts. The difference is in the size alone as the Mini system will use a compact air conditioner. To calculate your tiny home’s BTU, follow the same BTU calculation instructions as with a larger home, subbing in your actual square footage and accounting for any outlying factors such as multiple occupants, the probable use of a kitchen, and accounting for sun vs. shade.
    Shop Compact AC Units

 

{Builders: Are you curious about how to design and engineer an HVAC system in a tiny home from scratch? We’re happy to partner with you, too!}

 

If you’re looking to cut down on your tiny home costs and still heat and cool your space with ease, no worries! There are many passive and active HVAC solutions available for your tiny house. For more information or to request an estimate on HVAC services for your tiny home in San Diego or the surrounding area, contact Airmaxx today! We’re happy to help.

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How to Set Your Thermostat When You Go on Vacation

Thermostat Vacation

Thermostat Settings to Know for Your Upcoming Vacation

Summer is here and as the temperatures rise vacation plans are being set. On this much needed break, the last thing you want to worry about is your energy bill. Time for some thermostat 101 – On the top of the list of summer thermostat questions is, “Where should I set my thermostat when on vacation?” The answer may not be quite as simple as you think.

Where to set your thermostat when away

Conventional knowledge would say that if you are away from your house, that you should just shut your system off to save money. This is not always the case. Experts now agree that the ideal temperature for your thermostat settings for summer vacations is 4 degrees above your average settings, to help save some money while preventing your home from getting too hot. When you leave your system on, it avoids the inevitable cooling process that can end up costing you more money than you saved by shutting the system off. A buildup of heat and humidity can also cause serious damage to wood and wall compounds over time. Keeping your air on will also be much more comfortable for your pets or friends or neighbors that may stop by to help deliver mail or check on your home while you are away.

Here are a few thermostat in summer situations in which it is advantageous to leave your thermostat off while on vacation:

  • Your trip is at least one week or longer in duration (the longer the trip the more likely you are to save money by shutting off your system).
  • The local weather is going to be mild such that it would not drastically raise the temperature of your home.
  • Your home’s temperature efficiency is high enough that your home’s flux in temperature would not require a massive cool down process.

How to program your Nest thermostat when not home

It is recommended to program your Nest auto-away settings to the same 4 degree difference. However, for longer trips, you will want to utilize the manual away settings instead of the auto-away settings. The manual away setting will ensure that your system will not kick on until you manually say so. This will prevent the system from starting if it detects a neighbor or friend that is just bringing in your mail and checking on your house.

Airmaxx has your thermostat temperature summer solution

Whether you are looking to stay cool or save money, it’s all about making the smartest decisions with your thermostat. Nothing is smarter than the CARRIER COR Smart Thermostats that are designed to keep your family comfortable and your bank account full. With full Wi-Fi capabilities, you can control this thermostat from any mobile device through a convenient app, and best of all, it has its own vacation mode settings for optimal savings while you are away. Airmaxx also carries many programmable thermostats to help stretch your dollar and maximize your summer fun!

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Do I Really Have To Change My Air Filter Often?

HVAC Maintenance

Filters in your HVAC systems need to be changed periodically to ensure that the unit is running in peak efficiency and is not consuming more energy that it is supposed to. That said, there is no set rules for the required change-out frequency and the latter depends on a number of factors including the nature of the unit, what type of filter is used , where the unit is located and other environmental factors.

Units for residential facilities normally use pleated air filter, standard fiberglass throwaway filters or throwaway polyester filters. The efficiency levels of these filters vary but all of them need to be changed roughly every three months. But as we have already said, depending on various environmental factors, the homeowners may need to change their HVAC filters even more frequently than that. For example, if your home receives heavy foot traffic or if you have a pet or a smoker in the household, air filters may get clogged with pet hair, tobacco smoke and dirt from heavy footfall and in all of these cases, the normal lifespan of the filters will decrease.

Commercial and industrial units use more efficient and sophisticated air filters and change-out frequency will decrease in case of these filters. For example, with media air cleaners such as of the spaceguard variety, the lifespan can be 6 months to 1 year. However, change-out frequencies vary a great deal when it comes to commercial and industrial facilities, depending mainly on the nature of the activities performed within the premises.

The frequency is much higher in case of most industrial facilities and production units as the premises there typically stay saturated with many airborne pollutants, contaminants, soot and smoke. The production facilities normally use extensive filtration systems, but even then the filters often require to be changed every week.

In commercial sectors, restaurants need to change their filters every 1-2 months. This again will depend on the type of filter used and the footfall received. In case of strip malls, retail chains, the change-out frequency typically hovers around the 3-month mark.

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Thermal Comfort: What Is It?

When you think about thermal comfort, chances are air temperature may be the first thing that comes to mind. The temperature of the air around us plays a large role in how comfortable we feel. However, there are other things that can affect our personal comfort level.

Although temperature is not the only influence to thermal comfort, it does play a large role in two different ways. First, there is the actual temperature of the air surrounding us. Second, the concept of thermal radiation factors in. In order to understand this, think about how comfortable it can be to sit next to a fireplace in a chilly room. The combination of the air temperature and radiant heat add up to our overall perception of the warmth or coolness of the environment around us.

Humidity also plays a big role in thermal comfort. For example, a hot day can seem even more stifling and oppressive if the humidity level is also high. Likewise, a very hot day might seem comfortable if the humidity level is low. The level of humidity within the air around us determines how quickly perspiration can evaporate from our skin. When the air is already laden with a lot of moisture, perspiration evaporates much more slowly. This slower level of evaporation inhibits our body’s natural cooling system.

In addition to the environment around us, there are also some things about each of us personally that can either help or hinder our level of thermal comfort. Proper clothing can play a large role. For example, think about how unbearable it would be to wear a wooly sweater on a hot day, but how comfortable that same sweater would be on a cold day. Likewise, a short-sleeved shirt would be a great choice for a hot summer day, but would cause you to be uncomfortable if you were outside in the cold.

Finally, our level of physical activity definitely factors into whether we feel comfortable, too hot, or too cold. The same physical labor that can help keep us warm on a cold day can make us feel overheated on a hot summer day. Additionally, each of us has a personal level of metabolism that must be taken into consideration. Even if temperature and humidity levels are the same, one person may feel too hot, while another person may feel too cold.

Modern heating and cooling systems have the ability to make homes and businesses more comfortable places in which to live and work. Follow us for more information on how you can use your heating and cooling systems to enhance your level of personal comfort.

The Basics On Legionnaires’ Disease And HVAC Systems

You may have heard of Leagionnaires’ Disease before, possibly in the context of buildings and air conditioning systems. This disease poses a serious complication of existing methods for providing air to buildings, and understanding how the disease lives and spread is vital in understanding the implications of the disease.

HVAC Systems can be found in most buildings in our modern world, the largest of which are in hotels and large office buildings. Legionnaires’ Disease has been noted to be a threat as early as the 1960s, but it wasn’t determined to be L. Pneumophila until 1976, when over 200 attendees of a convention in Philadelphia suddenly came down ill with a form of pneumonia known as Legionellosis, or Legonnaires’ Disease. It is similar to pneumonia, with symptoms such as: fever, coughing, and chills. By the time the issue was examined, 34 of those affected died, and it was determined that the method the disease spread by was that of the HVAC system in the building.

L. Pneumophilia enjoys warm, still water, which is found in cooling towers. All the pathogen needs to spread is vapor, or mist, spread by the air conditioning system of a building, to enter the body of the victim. While the disease can be spread by shower heads, hot tubs, and other common items found in the home, it is still the most prevalent in large HVAC Systems around the world, and stands as a large category when planning the installation and usage of the system. While it’s possible to treat the illness with antibiotics, still, out of every 10 patients who contract it, 3 are expected to die from the disease.

Legonnaires’ Disease is a serious factor to consider when one designs and manages an HVAC System in a building, and the 2001 outbreak in Spain shows just how devastating the disease can be, and how large of a population it can affect if not stopped at the source. While it is foreseeable that this issue will stay with us in modern times, advancements can be made in order to keep the bacterium at bay, and engineers will continue to search for a solution.

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Commercial HVAC Systems – What You Need To Know

Commercial HVAC systems differ greatly from their residential counterparts. They are designed to cool places with massive scales and complex requirements. It is not enough to simply produce a cooling effect for the area. Their operation must proceed with utmost efficiency and reliability as any weakness will be magnified due to their size and scope. Power consumption is a particularly sensitive issue as every business strives to reduce their operational expenses. Heating and cooling systems are major contributors to the utility bills. Here’s what you need to know to lower consumption:

Demand Sensors

The number of occupants inside a building changes throughout the day. It doesn’t make sense to keep the temperature at a single setting despite the rise or reduction of demand. A more logical approach would be to modify the settings based on the actual real-time requirements. This can be implemented through the installation of CO2 sensors. People breathe out CO2 so the higher its level in the air, the more occupants there are in the room. HVAC systems can draw on this information to vary the settings accordingly.

Multiple Zones

Instead of treating a building as one large whole, the HVAC system can be designed to service multiple distinct zones. This will allow it to tailor its output to the load requirements of each zone. No area will feel too hot or too cold. It is a wise strategy given the inherent differences of various parts of a structure. The kitchen, for instance, will produce more heat and hence need more cooling for occupants to stay comfortable.

Programmable Thermostats

These are relatively inexpensive devices with an excellent return on investment. Programmable thermostats let people automate the settings for the HVAC system throughout the day. The air conditioner can be turned on a few minutes before workers are expected to arrive and turned off when it is time for them to leave. Not a single watt is wasted due to forgetful staff. The savings they bring can be immense. There’s no need to worry if changes in the schedule require an extension of working hours as the thermostats have a manual override.

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Choosing The Best AC And Heater Repair Technicians In San Diego

 It would be hard to imagine a day without a good air conditioner or a heater. Some people are unaware that people need to be within a place with comfortable temperature to be able to function well. Proper temperature is also needed to keep most stocks in good condition especially perishable ones. Maintaining air conditioning units and heaters are necessary to ensure that they last for a long time. After all, they are investments so it is imperative to see to it that the money spent on these machines is maximized.

In San Diego, California, there are lots of air conditioner shops that offer repairs, replacements and the like. As everyone knows, the weather in this area can be extreme at times so it is essential for property owners to have functional air conditioners and heaters. On the other hand, it can be a bit tricky to look for the best contractors around especially nowadays when there are so many companies offering similar services. When looking for the best Carrier dealer in San Diego or perhaps just any brand of air conditioning unit, you can use directories and online tools to check out contact information of HVAC companies near your place.

Not all companies or contractors that offer AC repair in San Diego are as good as they seem to be. Advertisements can be too good to be true and it can be frustrating to find out that the services that you have paid for are not as what they have promised. Before you sign up for deals or say yes to any technician, it is best to check whether or not the people you are about to hire are able to abide with the standards of the industry to ensure that you are getting what you pay for. Of course, you need to spend some time doing some research to get more information on the companies and people who can be trusted when it comes to HVAC services in San Diego.

Among the trusted names in HVAC services is Airmaxx Heating & Air Conditioning as they provide free AC repair estimate so clients do not need to worry about shelling any amount just to have their units checked. As they value their customers a lot, they see to it that they inform them what the problems are and what can be done to rectify them. For many years, people in San Diego trust Airmaxx as they do not only provide competent services but they also have wonderful staff that are trained and licensed to do heater and air conditioner repairs.

Overall, keeping your AC and heater units in good condition can be hassle-free if you get the right people to handle them for you. You can gather more information through company websites where you can also see their licenses and the services that they offer. Once you are able to assess all the options that you have, picking the right heater and air conditioning unit technicians can be easy.

Use of Filters in HVAC Performance

Many people are not aware that filters play a crucial role in ensuring good performance of an HVAC system. It not only keeps the equipment in a good condition but also keeps the people healthy by filtering the dirty air out of it. An inefficient filter can minimize the cooling capacity and can also create control problems by wasting more energy. It is thus important to buy a quality filter which is long lasting and performs with low airflow resistance. A good filter usually helps to reduce the dust and the foreign particles getting accumulated on the HVAC ducts and evaporator coils which may impact its performance. Read this article to know more about the use of filters in HVAC performance.

 

When the dust particles get clogged in the system due to ineffective filters, the blower and the compressor has to work hard to circulate the air which in due course of time would heat up the entire system and lead to failure of the cooling modes. The dust particles stick to the coils and ducts and do not allow the heat to get transferred between the air and the coil coolant. A quality air filter present in your HVAC system helps you breathe fresh by preventing foreign particles, dusts and allergens from getting circulated in your home.  Learn more about indoor air quality here

 

Now-a-days, there are also electrostatic filters and electronic air cleaners available that are more efficient and also need not be replaced frequently like the usual filters. The Department of Energy from the US Government has certified the HEPA (High Efficiency Particulate Air) filters as being very efficient in removing dust particles. Thus these filters are widely used in the HVAC systems in research labs and hospitals. It is important to check the efficiency rating before purchasing filters for your HVAC system. There are many types of HVAC filters used for commercial and residential uses.

 

Electrostatic filters, Electronic filters, pleated filters, Fiberglass Panel filters and Media Air filters are the most common types used for residential purposes. Bag filters, HEPA filters, Rigid Cell filters, and Automatic Roll filters along with the filters that are used for residential purposes can also be used for commercial purpose. Usually, a medium efficiency filter is suitable for businesses and homes but in case there are people suffering from allergies, it is important to use high efficient filters. The high efficient filters would be more moisture-resistant which prevents the growth of bacteria and molds in the filter and thus ensures best performance of the HVAC system. 

Understanding the function of your Vent Covers

Central air units are the most popular form of heating and cooling in the home. This option is the easiest way to circulate warm and cool air throughout your home and the way this is done is through the air vents. The air vents play a major role in your air system and they need to be placed in the right areas to get optimal usage.

There are different types of vents which can be installed in the home to circulate the air throughout the rooms in the home. When installing a new system, certified technicians will be able to tell you exactly where you should put your vents to ventilate your home. They will also be able to help you decide which type of air vents to use in your home.

Basic vent covers are the standard option when it comes to air vents. This option has slats that help move the air through the vent and these slats can be moved manually. This type of vent can be painted to match the floor and ceiling and they can also be purchased in a variety of colors. You can also purchase moveable air deflectors which can be used to redirect the air as it moves through your air vents.

Decorative vent covers are another option. Some people do not like the standard style of air vent cover and they want something more. Decorative vent covers come in cast iron or other metals to give a unique look to the air vents in your home. These vents can also be custom made by metal workers for an even more unique look.

Magnetic vent covers are also another option. This option is an airtight vent cover which will help your central unit work at the right pace. This type of cover is the best to keep your unit on track and not working overtime. This type of cover is a sheet that is magnetic that will cover the normal vent cover. This option is not expensive and can be used to help the air flow in your home.

This option can also be painted, carpeted or wallpapered to match the style of your home. However, if you decide to invest in this option, be sure to check that your existing air vent is magnetic metal so your cover will be able to fit over the existing one.