30 May 2023

What are the main differences between air ducts and vents?

When it comes to heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC) systems, you’ll have come across air ducts and vents – both of which are utilised to create a compliant HVAC system in a place of work. But what are the main differences between air conditioning ducts and vents? Let’s dive into the differences between these two HVAC components, and why they’re essential.

What are air ducts?

Ducts are what deliver the conditioned air through to a building. This air is usually heated or cooled through an HVAC system and is often insulated to improve its efficiency and reduce energy and heat loss. In addition to carrying cooled or heated air, they may carry purified air too, which is filtered of any hazardous substances as a result of materials processed in a building. Duct silencers may also be incorporated to reduce noise from the operation of airflow through these ducts.

In terms of materials used to create an air duct system, they’re usually made of sheet metal or fibreglass. Fabrication work is involved to shape air ducts into round, rectangular or oval shapes, in line with a design specification to fit within a building. Other factors will need to be considered in its design to comply with DW114 ductwork regulations to ensure they stay within air pressure limits – which is a maximum of 2,000 pascals. It’s common to find air ducts on ceilings, walls and even floors too, though some may be concealed behind ceilings, walls and floors, depending on the building’s requirements for their HVAC system.

How is air transported through an air duct? 

During the course of ductwork installation, a contractor will need to realise a solution that effectively transports air through a series of air ducts. This is typically done through a return duct – which is designed to carry air back to the central HVAC system. This is so the air can be heated or cooled again, filtered out of particulates and contaminants, and redistributed inside your home.

What are air vents?

As the name suggests, air vents are openings where purified air is delivered through air ducts and into the relevant parts of a building. They’re an important aspect of an HVAC system, as they’re in charge of circulating clean and temperature-regulated air through the ducts. The shapes and sizes of air vents are determined by the design of the HVAC system, however, you’re likely to find vents on ceilings, walls, registers and floors. 

How is air transported through an air vent? 

This is done through return vents. These vents allow contaminated air to “return” to these ducts and get filtered through the central HVAC unit to remove staleness, and harmful substances and regulate its temperature. This clean and regulated air is then pushed through the HVAC system to supply vents to blow this clean air out. Supply vents are easy to spot and are commonly found on walls and ceilings.

Why is ventilation important?

By law and HSE venting regulations, sufficient (and clean) air is required for optimum workplace standards. As we’ve established, air conditioning ducts and vents are required to provide good ventilation within a workspace. A complete and fully-functioning HVAC system can help with the likes of: 

  1. Improving the health and well-being of employees
  2. Lowering work absence rates
  3. Reducing exposure to hazardous substances

What is the difference between air conditioning and ventilation?

Air conditioning (or “air con”) cools or heats up the air inside a given space, whereas ventilation purifies the air inside the workspace instead. This is why the difference between air conditioning and ventilation can cause some confusion, particularly as some businesses use them in tandem to complement each other. 

Need to know more about the differences between air ducts, vents and air conditioning? Contact Airmatic to know more and see how these systems can help your business a safer environment to work in.

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