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HRV Ducting – Does It Really Matter?

Installing a Heat Recovery Ventilation (HRV) system in your home is an investment in your personal health and the quality of air in your home.


If you want to achieve the maximum benefits of heat recovery, it’s critical the system is installed correctly using best practice materials and procedures.

An HRV System consists of 3 elements: the ventilation unit usually located in the loft or cupboard/hot-press/utility room, a network of ductwork, and supply and extraction ceiling valves in each habitable room.

The ducting of an HRV System plays a crucial role in the efficiency of the overall system performance. In this article, we consider important aspects of Heat Recovery System Ducting and what the recommended solutions and procedures are.

Heat Recovery Ventilation – Best Practice

A 'Branch' type of ducting system is widely recognised as being the industry standard. This type of system involves a supply duct and an extract duct coming from the HRV unit, which goes through the property with a separate duct branching off into each room or area where a supply or extract valve is required.

This type of ducting system allows for excellent airflow rates which will contribute to the overall performance of the system.

The Optimal Size of Ducting Used

The size of ducting used for the installation of a Heat Recovery Ventilation system will depend on factors such as the required airflow. Ducts connected to the unit will usually come in industry standard diameters of either 5, 6, 8 or 10 inches, the size dependant on the unit being used. In general, the larger and more powerful the unit, the larger the ducting to allow for adequate airflow throughout the system.

As the ducts branch off towards each vent the size of ducting will decrease. For example, where the initial duct is servicing all valves it may have a 10” diameter, which may then reduce to 6” where it branches off to service a single valve.

In some cases, rectangular shaped ducting can be used, known as flat channel ducting. This may be used in areas where space may be an issue, such as within the ceiling void.

What Materials should your Ducting be made from?

The materials used for your ducting is critical for the performance of the Heat Recovery Ventilation System. BRE recommends using smooth flow rigid ducting – pipework made from solid plastic or metal with a smooth inner surface. Solid smooth flow ducting can offer the following benefits:

  • Provides a higher heat efficiency
  • Low-pressure loss resulting in low energy use
  • Efficient low velocity producing less noise
  • Resistant to crush damage
  • Easily cleaned and maintained

The overall performance of any heat recovery ventilation system can depend on the type and size of the ducting used. At BEAM, we offer the highest standards of installation, using only precision engineered metal and plastic solid smooth flow rigid ducting where possible, which is properly insulated in all cold spaces to avoid condensation forming within the pipework. All ducts are triple sealed (glued, screwed and taped) to ensure no loss of air.

For help and advice with your project or information on heat recovery ventilation systems from BEAM, contact us now to speak with one of our fully qualified technical engineers.

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