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Zehnder ComfoAir Q450 vs Brink Flair 400


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Anyone have particularly good or particularly bad experiences of either of these two MVHR machines?

 

Both are Passivhaus certified and similarly priced, but they are appear to offer slightly different features. Zehnder is about £150 less, but its filters are almost twice as expensive as the Brink's.

 

Weirdly Ventilation Land does a grey import of the Brink for significantly less money which has a slightly greater fan capacity of 425, but CVC are trying to steer me away from that because it is unsupported in the UK.

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6 minutes ago, Dreadnaught said:

@Visti has a Brink model I believe. I heard he was happy with it.

Remember that the Brink units are also branded as Ubiflux Vigor too. 

Thanks @Dreadnaught that's helpful, I wasn't aware Ubiflux is essentially the same, but looking at the pictures it obviously is. How strange that they have two brand names.

 

I think what it might come down to is which of these two units is best at filtering pollution as I live in London and I'm asthmatic - not a great combo! I think the finest filter either unit can take is an F7, which filters out some pollution, but not very much. However, the Zehnder is compatible with another Zehnder product called the Zehnder ComfoWell which appears to offer extra attenuation and filtration with F9 filters. Sounds expensive!

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The Brink Excellent 400 units (and maybe others?) seem to be rebadged by a number of other companies:

 

Wolf: https://database.passivehouse.com/en/components/details/ventilation_small/wolf-gmbh-cwl-400-excellent-0324vs03

Envirovent: https://www.envirovent.com/products/heat-recovery-ventilation-mvhr/energisava-400/

 

I'm sure there was another one, but I don't seem to be able to find it right now.

 

We have a Brink Excellent 400 that's mostly worked well for over 5 years since installation. It's very quiet - I can't hear it when it's at its normal background levels, even standing beside the unit. The unit itself makes some noise on boost, but with the volume of air being shifted, I think that would be impossible to avoid. It remains quiet at the inlets and outlets.

 

The one slight issue we've had is an odd leak in very cold damp conditions. It's only happened a handful of times in five years, but basically condensation from the heat exchanger seems to escape the internal drainage path and make its way into the gap between the insulation and the casing, a space which isn't drained. When enough of it builds up, it finds its way out of casing along a join at one of the corners.

 

To their credit Brink sent out an engineer to fix it over three years after installation. They clearly knew about the issue, because the guy turned up with a solution very much along the lines of what I'd been considering doing myself. Unfortunately, I don't think his installation was that great, because it dripped again the following winter, and I found out the fix hadn't stayed put. I then did my own version (basically a strip of plastic wedged underneath the heat exchanger), and touch wood it's been okay since. 

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If you go for the ventillationland import, order it a month before you need it.

I ordered the 400 plus (not yet installed), and despite the website saying 2 -3 day delivery it took nearly a month, I put that down to brexit.

A previous order for the ducting before Brexit also took 3 weeks despite saying on the website a few days.

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1 hour ago, jack said:

The Brink Excellent 400 units (and maybe others?) seem to be rebadged by a number of other companies:

 

Wolf: https://database.passivehouse.com/en/components/details/ventilation_small/wolf-gmbh-cwl-400-excellent-0324vs03

Envirovent: https://www.envirovent.com/products/heat-recovery-ventilation-mvhr/energisava-400/

 

I'm sure there was another one, but I don't seem to be able to find it right now.

 

We have a Brink Excellent 400 that's mostly worked well for over 5 years since installation. It's very quiet - I can't hear it when it's at its normal background levels, even standing beside the unit. The unit itself makes some noise on boost, but with the volume of air being shifted, I think that would be impossible to avoid. It remains quiet at the inlets and outlets.

 

The one slight issue we've had is an odd leak in very cold damp conditions. It's only happened a handful of times in five years, but basically condensation from the heat exchanger seems to escape the internal drainage path and make its way into the gap between the insulation and the casing, a space which isn't drained. When enough of it builds up, it finds its way out of casing along a join at one of the corners.

 

To their credit Brink sent out an engineer to fix it over three years after installation. They clearly knew about the issue, because the guy turned up with a solution very much along the lines of what I'd been considering doing myself. Unfortunately, I don't think his installation was that great, because it dripped again the following winter, and I found out the fix hadn't stayed put. I then did my own version (basically a strip of plastic wedged underneath the heat exchanger), and touch wood it's been okay since. 

Thanks @jack that’s good to know, though kind of a shame that such an expensive unit leaks, albeit not very often. I’m considering the Brink Flair 400 which i thought was slightly smaller than /different to the Excellent. if it's the same, then the company has some confusing labelling issues (as well as the rebadge branding issues). What filter do you use with it?

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2 hours ago, Adsibob said:

I’m considering the Brink Flair 400 which i thought was slightly smaller than /different to the Excellent. if it's the same, then the company has some confusing labelling issues

 

I don't know what the difference is, but the Flair 400 doesn't look the same as the Excellent 400. Is the Flair PH certified?

 

2 hours ago, Adsibob said:

What filter do you use with it?

 

Just the standard that comes with it - G4 I think? Not F7, anyway. We're on the suburban outskirts of a market town, so no particularly strong need for better filtration.

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If you have a specific filtering requirement, may it be worth investigating a pre-filtering stage to your requirements and then a cheaper, non PH certified MVHR?

 

I'm still not clear on the reason for the price premium of the PH certified units.

 

I went with a Sentinel Kinetic + and have had no issues.

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Just thought I'd update this with some further things I learnt from CVC today about the Brink Flair 400:

  • It's not the same as the Excellent 400. Apparently the Flair 400 is slightly quieter, not because the Excellent is noisy, but because - apparently - the Flair is the quietest machine Brink make.
  • It can be used with an Activated Carbon filter. They cost £75 a pop though. CVC think that even in London an Activated Carbon filter would need replacing every six months, so this does increase running costs but given the quality of London I guess it's better to swallow the cost than the NO2 and SO2.
  • It does not come with a humidity sensor as standard, but it is available as an extra for about £175.
  • The Flair 400 Plus, is the same except that it can be controlled via the internet. This costs a bit more, but the majority of the increased cost is negated by not having to but a remote control pannel for it as your mobile phone becomes the remote control. The mobile phone app does not give you access to all of the controls the remote would, but it's enough to do most things. Full functionality can be accessed via a PC/laptop. 
  • Physical boost switches are available. The first costs about £45 and each subsequent one costs about £17. They look like white light switches with a rocker switch that automatically moves back to the off switch as soon as you press it. Can be replaced with your own light switch to match your other lights.

After this conversation, I'm now really leaning towards the Brink Flair 400, but I'm going to let it percolate for a few days, so if @Visti or anyone else has any experiences of this machine or similar Brink model, good or bad, do shout.

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5 hours ago, Bitpipe said:

If you have a specific filtering requirement, may it be worth investigating a pre-filtering stage to your requirements and then a cheaper, non PH certified MVHR?

 

I'm still not clear on the reason for the price premium of the PH certified units.

Good idea, but it just sounds like more complexity and more space required for the install. I'm a bit tight on space (both in my pump room and in my small skull).

 

I think the reason is that Passivhaus have to test it to certify it. That probably costs money. So there is an extra cost. There is also extra demand from those who want PH certified homes and from those like me, who will never have a PH certified home but who recognise the value of their benchmarks. 

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11 hours ago, Adsibob said:

Good idea, but it just sounds like more complexity and more space required for the install. I'm a bit tight on space (both in my pump room and in my small skull).

 

I think the reason is that Passivhaus have to test it to certify it. That probably costs money. So there is an extra cost. There is also extra demand from those who want PH certified homes and from those like me, who will never have a PH certified home but who recognise the value of their benchmarks. 

 

I have a house that meets and exceeds the PH standard but never bothered with certification as I could not see the value.

 

I have no doubt they are high quality MVHR units but I still wonder what they do above and beyond a standard MVHR unit that commands the premium - is it greater efficiency, low power usage?

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11 hours ago, Adsibob said:

will never have a PH certified home but who recognise the value of their benchmarks. 

 

@Adsibob agreed.

 

We have the Brink Flair 400. We wanted a good spec but overall we wanted a quiet unit as it is in the loft right above our bedroom.

 

It's still running its factory default settings because I haven't had the time to have a good play with it yet. The factory default has it running at 200m3/hr ramping up to 300m3/hr for a couple of hours in the morning and again in the early evening.

 

At 200m3/hr it is basically inaudible even stood right next to the unit, at 300m3/hr you can hear it and at the maximum 400m3/hr you can tell it's doing its job. Outside of its little cupboard in the loft you can only really hear the unit when it is on its maximum setting.

 

In all rooms (apart from our bedroom) it is inaudible at 200m3/hr. At 300m3/hr you can hear airflow to some of the extracts but it's not obtrusive and if you didn't know what to listen for you probably wouldn't hear it.

 

In our bedroom which has the shortest duct run (4.4m) you can just about hear airflow through the supply air vent at 200m3/hr, and of course it becomes more and more obvious the faster the unit runs.

 

There is zero noise from the unit itself and zero vibration. Our unit is sat on an offcut of EPS from our slab which was a temporary measure that I think will now become permanent.

 

In a nutshell, we're very pleased with it but have nothing to compare it with so have no idea if a less expensive unit would be any better or worse for sound transmission.

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Speak to Scott at Lindab.

 I contacted them to buy ducting, he asked if I had sourced MVHR units, I said I did and told them the price and spec of the brink from ventilation land. They pretty much matched it (within 150 quid) with an equivalent Zehnder unit, and a good bit cheaper than BPC. It's a superior quality unit (according to my friend that is a designer and installer of various systems) and have it in stock right round the corner from me.

 

They also did a design and a fully itemised quotation. It's (hopefully) coming in about £6k for two Zehnder Q350s and all the controls, ducting, plenums, air vales etc for our 315m² build.  (Original quote was £7k, but they included the expensive WiFi units and twin 63mm ducting instead of single 78mm)

 

Edited by Conor
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13 hours ago, Conor said:

Speak to Scott at Lindab.

 I contacted them to buy ducting, he asked if I had sourced MVHR units, I said I did and told them the price and spec of the brink from ventilation land. They pretty much matched it (within 150 quid) with an equivalent Zehnder unit, and a good bit cheaper than BPC. It's a superior quality unit (according to my friend that is a designer and installer of various systems) and have it in stock right round the corner from me.

 

They also did a design and a fully itemised quotation. It's (hopefully) coming in about £6k for two Zehnder Q350s and all the controls, ducting, plenums, air vales etc for our 315m² build.  (Original quote was £7k, but they included the expensive WiFi units and twin 63mm ducting instead of single 78mm)

 

Thanks @Conor, just as @Russdl had persuaded me i should go with the Flair 400, you’ve now tempted me to get a quote from a sixth company. I didn’t realise Lindab sold MVHR units; for some reason I thought they just manufactured extract and supply valves.

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14 hours ago, Russdl said:

 

@Adsibob agreed.

 

We have the Brink Flair 400. We wanted a good spec but overall we wanted a quiet unit as it is in the loft right above our bedroom.

 

It's still running its factory default settings because I haven't had the time to have a good play with it yet. The factory default has it running at 200m3/hr ramping up to 300m3/hr for a couple of hours in the morning and again in the early evening.

 

At 200m3/hr it is basically inaudible even stood right next to the unit, at 300m3/hr you can hear it and at the maximum 400m3/hr you can tell it's doing its job. Outside of its little cupboard in the loft you can only really hear the unit when it is on its maximum setting.

 

In all rooms (apart from our bedroom) it is inaudible at 200m3/hr. At 300m3/hr you can hear airflow to some of the extracts but it's not obtrusive and if you didn't know what to listen for you probably wouldn't hear it.

 

In our bedroom which has the shortest duct run (4.4m) you can just about hear airflow through the supply air vent at 200m3/hr, and of course it becomes more and more obvious the faster the unit runs.

 

There is zero noise from the unit itself and zero vibration. Our unit is sat on an offcut of EPS from our slab which was a temporary measure that I think will now become permanent.

 

In a nutshell, we're very pleased with it but have nothing to compare it with so have no idea if a less expensive unit would be any better or worse for sound transmission.

@Russdl thank you, this is very helpful and reassuring. If you change the settings, can you set it up so that instead of boosting from 200 to 300 it boosts to 240 or 250 it would be quieter whilst still giving you the boost in ventilation you need? How customisable are the settings and routines?

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  • 1 year later...
Posted (edited)
On 09/04/2021 at 08:32, jack said:

We have a Brink Excellent 400

@jack I have a Brink Flair 400 which I believe is the same (?)

 It works well but I’m still trying to get the Brink-Home app set up. I create an account on the Brink-Home website, then go through the steps required to add a device, which basically means putting in the serial number and the installation password, but it always fails. 
One possibility is my Brink machine might be out of range of the wifi, but it’s not clear as my phone gets on the wifi in the MVHR room (with two bars), I just mention it because it’s not immediately clear to me that connecting the Brink to the wifi was successful.

 Do you know how to tell if the machine has successfully connected to the internet?

Edited by Adsibob
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17 minutes ago, Adsibob said:

@jack I have a Brink Flair 400 which I believe is the same (?)

...

 Do you know how to tell if the machine has successfully connected to the internet?

 

Sorry, never used it - my unit is too old to have the app! 

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55 minutes ago, jack said:

 

Sorry, never used it - my unit is too old to have the app! 

Ok thanks. I filed a complaint with the supplier/installer. Not heard back from them despite it being several days and despite their engineer scratching his head when he failed to get it registered on commissioning. Really pleased I spent an extra £££ for the wifi functionality, not!

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Bit lost on why you need WiFi on MVHR.  Once set up it runs 24/7 on a set point, if you need to boost either humidity or CO2 sensor or manual switch puts into boost.

 

A light on a panel or a timer sticker, tells you to change the filters.

 

What am I missing?

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The unit is located in an awkward to reach spot. So visiting the unit is something best avoided unless it's to change the filters.

To monitor air quality and temperature and understand how the automatic features on the machine are working (e.g. the summer bypass) and experiment with settings etc. it's helpful to have access to all the data the machine gathers and tweak settings. All of that is much more easily done with the wifi app - not only is the machine located in an awkward to reach spot, but the control panel itself is pretty difficult to use, particularly if you have large fingers. I paid for wifi control, I want wifi.

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3 hours ago, JohnMo said:

Bit lost on why you need WiFi on MVHR.  Once set up it runs 24/7 on a set point, if you need to boost either humidity or CO2 sensor or manual switch puts into boost.

 

A light on a panel or a timer sticker, tells you to change the filters.

 

What am I missing?

 

(Our Zehnder is thankfully wired ethernet not Wifi, but same diff for this question)

I didn't think I'd want it but did add the ethernet bridge after a while for two reasons

- convenience / laziness. We have the remote display in the kitchen, but it's not that good whereas the phone app makes it really easy to see all the controls, status, and installer setup menus

- logging and home automation. I use the temperature & humidity sensors as additional inputs to the house automation system - it's my most reliable measure of outdoors and whole-house average indoor temp. And I control the boost function (4 levels) depending on what's going on in the house

 

Neither of these are must-haves, but I appreciate them enough to not entirely resent the ludicrous £250 outlay. I'd not recommend it to anyone else unless they're a real nerd though.

 

 

 

Edited by joth
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3 hours ago, joth said:

I use the temperature & humidity sensors as additional inputs to the house automation system - it's my most reliable measure of outdoors and whole-house average indoor temp. And I control the boost function (4 levels) depending on what's going on in the house

Yes, this is one of the main reason I wanted it for, although I wasn't going to link it in such a "smart" way. How to you feed those data points as inputs to your home automation?

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8 minutes ago, Adsibob said:

Yes, this is one of the main reason I wanted it for, although I wasn't going to link it in such a "smart" way. How to you feed those data points as inputs to your home automation?

 

Via https://www.home-assistant.io/integrations/comfoconnect/

 

It's not perfect as it writes log entries to HA at the rate they arrive from the ComfoConnect, which  appears to be at about 100/sec, which swamps the home assistant history view rather quickly (GBs of use). I think this is a short coming of both HA and the plugin that it can even do this, and there's no simple way to set a global rate limit, but meh that's what you get for relying on free stuff.

[this is where someone points out the obvious hidden setting I've been failing to find all this time]

 

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