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oldMH Offline OP
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We are configuring a room dedicated for piano use and hoping to optimize the environmental setup. I have a temperature and relative humidity monitor configured and can track both with some accuracy. The piano will not be installed for several more weeks so just monitoring now to get a baseline.

The current trend for temperature is 78F +/- 1 degree with daily swings to the extremes (77F min at 7am and 79F max at 11 am). RH is 49% +/- 3 points. I am hoping that these figures and daily variations are tolerable to the instrument and do not produce undue variations in pitch or other mechanical issues.

What is your experience and advice?

Thanks

Last edited by oldMH; 10/09/18 04:38 PM.
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Wide fluctuations in temperature - and more particularly wide fluctuations in relative humidity - are of greater concern than the modest range of figures you quoted. Ideally, mid to upper 40's RH is the figure to aim for; temperature is less of a concern, so you are doing well, in my opinion.

Regards,


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You are doing well. The question is - Will you do as well in your interior environment when the exterior environment changes significantly?

I have HVAC and a Dampp Chaser. The HVAC is not functioning at this time of year because the outside temperature matches the inside. This means that neither the AC nor the heat is available to reduce the interior humidity, which is sitting at about 64%. The Dampp Chaser holds this down to 54%, but it is still above the 50% that is nomimal for the Dampp Chaser in my region. My piano is sitting about 0.6 cents sharp across the compass.

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Bruce is right. In the Great White, where temperatures and humidity fluctuate wildly, I've abandoned my Damp Chaser and purchased a couple of precision humidistats. The piano never goes off pitch. I maintain a constant 45 rh and 72 fahr.


You don't want the room to get too cold, eg, 45-55. Cold rooms are much more difficult to dehumidify.

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Just remember, raising the temperature of a given space will reduce the relative humidity dramatically, even though the amount of water vapour in the space remains the same. RH is the only important value, since it is an analogue for the vapour pressure of the moisture trying to get into, or out of, the wood.

If the temperature in the room remains constant, and the RH varies dramatically, you have a potential humidity issue.

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Agree with Prout. i maintain close control of RH, but there are sometimes considerable temperature variations. Tuning stability is excellent.

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An example for our US friends:

Room temp 60 degrees F. RH 70% Raise the room temp to 75 degrees F without changing the moisture content.
Room temp 75 degrees F. RH 41%

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Fortunately, air conditioners reduce humidity so RH remains relatively constant even if temperature rises. With temps here in the 80s and 90s my AC keeps the room at a pretty constant RH and T. I suspect during winter when the temps plunge into the frigid 50s and we have to run the furnace to survive, behavior could be different and RH lower at the same temps (76F or so). The trouble occurs in the middle temps when we don't use the AC nor heat and humidity can rise. Thus, a tuning may be warranted once the piano room conditions stabilize in early summer and early winter.

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When the temps drop into the 50s F here in Canada we just switch from thongs to shorts.

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Originally Posted by oldMH
Fortunately, air conditioners reduce humidity so RH remains relatively constant even if temperature rises.

Sorry, not sure I understand this. Surely when the temperature rises, the RH falls. Then if the AC reduces humidity, the RH will fall even further.

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Originally Posted by David-G
Originally Posted by oldMH
Fortunately, air conditioners reduce humidity so RH remains relatively constant even if temperature rises.

Sorry, not sure I understand this. Surely when the temperature rises, the RH falls. Then if the AC reduces humidity, the RH will fall even further.

In this case, the reference is likely to outside air temp. If the outside air temp is above the desired inside temp, the AC will lower both the inside temp and remove moisture from the space as a necessary consequence of reducing the air temp in the vicinity of the condenser coil to below the dewpoint temp, resulting in 100% RH proximal to the coil.

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Correct, as temps rise outside and RH with them, we are not affected inside as the AC keeps things even-steven. In fact the narrow range of temps makes me wonder if the thermostat is not set too conservatively.

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I need a magical hygrometer to fix my humidity problems !

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Just get a broken one. It will show the same level every day.


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As I just posted elsewhere, in my opinion concerns about humidity and temperature are vastly overstated. There are pianos in Arizona and in Florida, and there is no way the RH is 40% anywhere there. It's the sudden large changes in temperature and humidity that can cause problems, for example in a church that is used once a week.

I cannot imagine that there is a problem that needs to worry you if you have a piano in an environment in which you live and are comfortable. Pianos existed long before there was air conditioning. And remember the environmental damage to which you contribute by leaving appliances running all the time, even when you are not home.

My inexpert two cents. Bottom line: relax.

Last edited by Rank Piano Amateur; 10/13/18 08:45 AM.
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Originally Posted by PhilipInChina
Just get a broken one. It will show the same level every day.

Philip I have a hygrometer which is just like that .I had no worries. My complete faith was in this tiny plastic thing .However when got a new Sauter upright I began to doubt my tiny speaker of truth .,So I bought another hygrometer better make .This one was sensitive and it changed from room to room .So I did the salt water test and dicovered the new one was 3 points lower .,the old one 5 points lower and was really slow to change .,So I now know to add 3 points to find out what the true humidty is .But sometimes I long for the time when the old one gave me contentment. I do intend to fix these problems. My tuner who is a RPT and respected technician in Vancouver is against me getting a damp chaser .He has the belief thar 70 % even 80% humidity is OK ?From what I have learnt on this forum I know it is not !

Last edited by Lady Bird; 10/13/18 10:29 AM. Reason: Extra word
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Originally Posted by Lady Bird
So I did the salt water test and dicovered the new one was 3 points lower . !


Be careful with that salt water test. Read the instructions for the hygrometer first. It works for the old analog ones, but most digitals are destroyed by the salt test.


-- J.S.

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John Sprung ,Thank you for telling me.Will try a distilled water test .Do you know a good way of doing this test without damage to the hygrometer ?

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One must not expect too much accuracy from any hygrometer outside a lab grade device. For most accurate results a sling-psychrometer is best, but swinging near your piano is risky. I built one and used it for a year or so. It is accurate from near freezing to near boiling within +/- 2%.

A cheap analogue hygrometer ($10) is required to be accurate within +/- 7%, IIRC. I bought 5 of them, did a salt test, and returned 3 of the least accurate ones. They need to be giggled momentarily to read accurately. They are my preferred devices.

Inexpensive digital hygrometers are notoriously inaccurate. The error varies with temperature and humidity, so, unless you rent a lab grade hygrometer, and measure a nymber of combinations of temp/RH, you actually have no idea what the RH actually is. I bought 3 digital hygrometers along with the 5 analogue. They were all useless and returned.

My digital Carrier high-end thermostat ($700!!! to replace) controls the humidity in the house with respect to the outside temp, but the RH accuracy, as measured against my sling-psychrometer, is +/ 9%. I now have to manually set a correction at least 4 times a year, as well as adjust the desired humidity level (higher in winter, lower in summer) in order to maintain a constant humidity in the house! What the computer wants and what my piano needs are at odds.

I don’t lose any sleep over it anymore, because I have a Dampp Chaser.

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I should also mention that even laboratory grade calibrated hygrometers are certified to a certain accuracy at a single temperature only, usually 20 degrees C.

Here is a nice lab grade hygrometer. Note the accuracy (in bold).

Harvard Herriott Hygrometer
The Harvard Herriott Hygrometer (HHH) measures water vapor via direct absorption in the near-IR utilizing a fiber-coupled tunable diode laser and a multipass Herriott cell (Sargent et al., 2013). In its present configuration, the cell is integrated into the primary inlet duct of the Harvard Lyman-α hygrometer. Fast flow through the instrument duct, ∼70 m s−1, ensures a fast flush time and a rapid time response. The combined instrument, which provides two independent measurements of water vapor in a common duct, has flown missions on NASA's ER-2 and WB-57 aircraft from 2011 to the present. Advances in signal processing and data acquisition systems have made it possible to achieve both high precision and accuracy with a direct absorption technique. HHH has a stated precision of ∼<0.10 ppmv for a 1-s integration period, an accuracy of ±5–8%, and a bias uncertainty of ±0.2 ppmv for pressures <500 hPa or mixing ratios ∼<600 ppmv (Sargent et al., 2013).


Last edited by prout; 10/15/18 04:46 PM.
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