HVAC systems offer the most efficient and effective heating and cooling systems, be it in your home or commercial space. Therefore, in these forced air systems, the design of the underlying ductwork plays a key role in determining the efficiency of air distribution, maintenance of regular and unobstructed airflow, proper dehumidification, and controlled heating and cooling.


Basics of HVAC System Air Duct Design –

Load Measurements – Key factor in good air duct design for an HVAC system

First and foremost, come to the heating and cooling calculations associated with space. That is, for any space, the heating and cooling load calculations need to be as precise as possible to allow the designers to get an understanding of the amount of air that needs to be delivered to a specific area. For example, the amount of cooled air that needs to be distributed to commercial space is much greater than you would need for a residential room.


Sizing – Building the right ducts for proper air delivery

Contractors often make poor judgment calls on the exact sizing of the ducts which will run through your home. Therefore, with the right measurements and load test numbers, you will be looking at a rise in inefficiency. Therefore, getting the positions, sizes and materials of the air ducts should be controlled and decisions need to be taken based on the results of the testing.


Run-ons affect the delivery of conditioned air to the end-points

Ducts that run longer than necessary are unable to deliver conditioned air to the endpoints as they would have if the central ac units for the air conditioning were closer to the endpoints. With this in mind, having the requirements of the rooms beforehand and understanding the exact placements of the central ac units will allow the air ducts to deliver air to the required regions in your home more efficiently.


Sharp Bends – Impedes air movement and drops efficiency

Sharp bends in the ductwork hinder airflow, making it harder for conditioned air to reach the desired destination. With this in mind, pre-planning the ductwork layout and using fewer bends to deliver air will increase the amount of air reaching the rooms and enable smoother airflow throughout the system.


Poor Air Circulation – Contributor to uncomfortable living environments

Poorly placed exits make it a hassle for the air to be quickly recirculated back to the air conditioning units. Therefore, with poorly planned air circulation, you will find yourself in a room with unbalanced air pressure and possibly musty air, making the place uncomfortable and undesirable to stay in for long periods.


Other consequences of poor air duct design

Given the numbers, on average, the ductwork in your home is only about 60% efficient. This means that air flowing into your rooms is not representative.

-          Hot and cold spots start to appear around your home due to poorer air distribution, in addition to impeded airflow.

-          The biggest issue is that each unit of your central air conditioner needs to work much harder to achieve the same effect it would have if the air ducts were more efficient. This is turn harms the longevity of your HVAC system resulting in more breakdowns and shorter lifetime.

-          Unbalanced air pressures due to poor ductwork lead to distracting noises, leaves odors in the air longer, and makes for a more uncomfortable living environment.


Closing thoughts

To mitigate these issues, contractors and HVAC installation experts need to pay close attention to the locations of the HVAC units and air ducts. Allowing only short runs and sufficient crawl spaces for air duct maintenance will help in the long run both in terms of AC maintenance & repair and efficient airflow throughout the premises. Additionally, performing a detailed load calculation will help guide smarter decisions when installing the air ducts and creating clear paths for the ducts. Finally, the homeowner is responsible for installing sufficient HVAC units capable of performing in the right capacity to match the air ducts and deliver the right amount of heating and cooling to the rooms.


Check out the summary of this content here in this infographic – Basics of HVAC System Air Duct Design [Infographic]

Basics of HVAC System Air Duct Design by Rifat

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