While most of us are familiar with supply registers that pump air into a room, we tend to overlook an equally important HVAC component: return ducts.
Return ducts are responsible for pulling air back into the HVAC system, where it is reconditioned and filtered again to ensure that a room’s indoor air quality remains as purified as possible. Return ducts are also responsible for maintaining a room’s air pressure.
After all, if blasts of conditioned, filtered air have nowhere to go, the environment would be less than ideal, especially when the room is being used for important applications, such as surgery, manufacturing, or extremely precise research procedures.
Return ducts can be outfitted with an additional key component, which also tends to be overlooked when considering HVAC products. This product pairs with a return duct and plays its own role in a high performing HVAC system: the return grille. Return grilles direct air toward the return ducts, manage the flow of air back into the system, and obscure ductwork from view. They also lend a design element to the building in which the HVAC system has been installed.
If you’re a facilities manager or commercial building owner who is looking to upgrade your HVAC system, it is important to recognize the value of return air grille products, alongside supplies, filters, and other necessary components that contribute to the indoor air quality standards you require.
How Return Grilles Work
A return duct is fastened with a return air grille – typically made of aluminum or steel – which allows for a balanced flow of air back into the ductwork. These grilles are designed in a variety of ways, depending on a facility’s needs.
For example, grilles are sometimes manufactured with particularly large slats, so that large volumes of air can be returned at once. Return air grilles can also be outfitted with many small perforations for a slower return of air.
Some HVAC manufacturers design grilles with an antimicrobial finish for extra protection against airborne contaminants, which is particularly important when you’re trying to deactivate viruses in high-traffic areas or in medical settings.
Return Grille Design
In addition, grille design can be used to cover up the unsightly inner workings of the ducts. In
the case of commercial buildings, design is a necessary element in ensuring productivity and satisfaction among workers, and – in the case of buildings where clients will be visiting regularly – design is synonymous with a business’s brand.
In most settings, no one wants to look up at visible ductwork, especially when it is gathering the inevitable dust and debris. A return grille can keep your building looking the way you intended without any unnecessary – or unsightly – flaws in your design.
The best custom HVAC manufacturers can even ensure that your return grilles have a low-profile installation, so that they can be seamlessly integrated into your space. The best return grilles should do their job well, while blending into the environment around them.
Where to Look for Superior Return Grilles and Other Custom HVAC Products
As you gather materials for a custom HVAC system, it is always better to look for a manufacturer who specializes in HVAC products and customizes them to your needs. While some companies develop HVAC products as an afterthought or side-project that is included in their larger manufacturing plans, there are time-honored companies who have significant experience specializing in designing custom HVAC products – and some companies have been doing this good work for decades.
When vetting a company to purchase custom HVAC products, you should first consider your purpose: do you have regulatory or other agency compliance requirements you need to meet?
If so, only consider working with companies who design specifically for these compliance benchmarks, as you want to ensure that everything you’ve ordered was designed to the standards and specifications you’re required to meet, so nothing will need to be replaced after an audit.
Look for companies that have a working, evolving knowledge of ISO and ASHRAE standards, as these are two important agencies that provide guidance, as well as regulation, for HVAC systems and more. An HVAC manufacturing company that designs return air grilles and other products specifically to help you meet your requirements is a key partner in ensuring compliance.
Even if you don’t need to meet specific regulatory standards, companies who design toward agency compliance are much better equipped to meet your needs. Because they design for a variety of circumstances and situations, they’re likely to have a product in stock – or can customize one – that will best fit your needs. After all, indoor air quality isn’t just about checking off a box to ensure you’re in compliance. Indoor air quality can benefit every building because its value for our health and wellbeing is immeasurable.