I am often asked if I recommend piano climate control systems to be installed into a piano. No, I do not. I am one of the very few technicians who will take this position. It is for good reason. My reasons, straight out, are this – in some cases they will increase tuning stability but I have found that 100% of the time, over long term, they will cause damage. I am saying this from the point of 39 years of observation.
In some unfortunate situations they can be useful devices, but in most cases they are installed recklessly and unnecessarily. I have had this conversation with the inventors of the most popular kind and they have agreed with my position. They have express that their biggest challenge is to see that their product is being used in the correct application and installed as intended. As a field technician I sympathize with them since most of what I see is detrimental to their cause.
The driving force behind the sale of these products is incentive for add-on sales by stores and technicians. Once the sale is made it is defended by those who made the decision with a lack of facts and knowledge of what they have done for the apparent reason of saving face. However, a chronic condition inflicts their piano without them knowing it.
The best way to acclimatize a piano is to acclimatize the environment in which it is place. In some cases, such as with institutions and large halls, it is difficult to do this. In this case, the risks and rewards need to be evaluated and the lesser of two evils has to be selected. If the selection is to install a climate control system into a piano than it must be done correctly.
The images on this page show a terrible situation involving a Steinway “B” concert grand belonging to a client of mine. Someone came along and installed a climate control system and it has caused severe damage to an otherwise magnificent instrument.
There was absolutely no need to install this system on this piano. The piano sits in a 7 figure house with a state-of-the-art heating and air cooling system. As you can see from the images the soundboard is damaged directly above the area where the water tank is located.
Pianos must be treated in a uniform manor with regard to humidity. The humidity needs to be stable and homogenous in a large area surrounding the piano. In this installation the humidity is concentrated in a small area of the soundboard. Sadly, this is the case in most installations.
I suggest thinking very carefully about installing one of these systems in your piano. If absolutely necessary, consult with an extremely competent technician with experience in climate control and piano climate control system installation before making a decision. Consider instead acclimatizing the entire room with air cooling and heating.
In areas where the winters are long the air becomes dangerously dry. This is easily remedied by humidification of the entire room or house. In climates of high humidity, if air cooling is not already implemented consider a central or room unit cooling system.