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Air of Importance: A Study of Air Distribution Systems in Manufactured Homes

Air of Importance: A Study of Air Distribution Systems in Manufactured Homes

Air of Importance: A Study of Air Distribution Systems in Manufactured Homes

One has only to look at the statistics to see how important it is to consider manufactured housing in any residential energy research. Twenty percent of existing single-family homes in the United States are manufactured, and 25 percent of new single-family homes built last year were factory-built. In North Carolina, the leading state formanufactured-home shipments, 40 percent of new homes last year were manufactured.
Sponsored residential energy research has advanced the understanding of building systems in general, but this research is not always transferable from site-built to factory-built housing. The scarcity of articles in the literature dealing with new manufactured homes demonstrates the disproportionate level of research investment being spent in this burgeoning home construction approach. The small amount of manufactured housing research that does exist has recently focused mainly on ways to improve the thermal envelope. This led, in part, to an increase in the thermal requirements for manufactured homes in the recent changes to the HUD Standards (October, 1994).

In the last several years, building scientists across the country have been quantifying the contribution made by air distribution systems to building efficiency loss in site -built homes. Estimates vary, but the average duct system appears to reduce overall system efficiency by 20 to 40 percent. This efficiency loss can have a multiplying effect with air-flow sensitive, compressor-based space conditioning systems such as air conditioners and heat pumps. Meanwhile, air distribution systems in new manufactured homes have received very little attention. This study is a step forward in trying to better understand air distribution in manufactured homes and their affect on overall system performance.

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