The benefits of heat recovery ventilators (HRVs) in horse barns

Heat recovery ventilators are an efficient way to exchange stale barn air during the winter months without letting the cold in!

Maintaining a healthy, comfortable environment for your horses requires the right ventilation choices to control air quality and regulate temperatures, especially in the winter. Proper ventilation is critical in controlling odors, moisture and ammonia build up, which is done by exchanging the air inside the building. In cold weather, this needs to be accomplished while also keeping the stalls warm for your horses. One of the most effective solutions to achieve this is to use a heat recovery ventilator (HRV).

HRVs are designed to do two jobs in one: exhaust contaminated air and supply fresh air, with the added benefit of recovering heat that would normally be vented outside, and reducing humidity.

How do they work and why would you want one?

When stale air is exhausted it passes through a ceramic energy core where heat and moisture are absorbed. After the core heats up, the ventilator automatically switches into supply mode bringing in fresh air from outside. As the fresh air passes through the energy core, it absorbs the heat that was collected from the exhausted air. After the heat has been transferred to the incoming air and the core is cool, the HRV switches back to exhaust mode to extract air and repeat the cycle.

This process saves money on heating costs by recovering heat that would otherwise be lost and removes odors while keeping the indoor air fresh. Any humidity resulting from horses breathing, urinating or through the use of wash stalls is also reduced. A horse produces approximately two gallons of moisture per day just from breathing. If left unchecked, humidity can build up and form condensation on windows, walls, and bedding in cooler weather, leading to accumulations of mold and increased dust, odor, and ammonia. Use of an HRV will prevent these contaminants from slowly eating away at your barn.

HRVs have several components:

  • Ports for incoming fresh air and outgoing stale air with hoods for exterior vents.
  • Fans to circulate indoor air and exhaust foul air outside.
  • A heat-exchange core to transfer heat from one air stream to another.
  • Filters to keep dirt and debris out of the core.
  • A defrost mechanism, such as a pre-heater or ceramic core, to prevent the heat-exchange core from freezing when supplying air in sub-zero temperatures.
  • A drain to remove excess moisture collected by the core.
  • Operating controls to customize the HRV to your environment.

In addition to horse stalls, HRV units are also effective for use in tack rooms.
While varying in size and purpose, most tack rooms provide safe storage for saddles, harnesses, and other tack. Unfortunately, they are also rooms prone to collecting dust, dirt, horsehair, humidity and manure. HRVs are ideal for preventing premature wear of your tack, controlling the humidity, and removing contaminants from the air.

Proper ventilation is critical for indoor air quality and the health of your horses. Investing in a heat recovery ventilator system for your horse barn is a smart way to regulate humidity and keep air fresh for your equine friends in the winter months.