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You may find yourself asking, "what is an air curtain", and when and why would I use one? Many technical equipment and commercial specifiers and air door buyers have misconceptions about air curtain operations, don’t realize all that air curtains do, and fail to understand how beneficial they are to creating energy savings and sustainable buildings.
In this article, we will share some of the common myths about air curtains and discuss the myriad of benefits that air doors offer to many different types of commercial operations.
Whether an air curtain is loud or not may depend on the setting. In a large, loud industrial space with complex equipment and movement of large metal objects, there is a lot of noise and the door openings are tall and wide. Wider industrial air curtains are called for in this setting, and being larger units, the motors are bigger. At a smaller pass-thru window at a fast-food restaurant for example, the air door for this application would be significantly smaller and much quieter.
Furthermore, today there are air curtains that have been specifically designed for a lower sound profile. These air curtains are shaped differently and have other noise reducing features within. Other air curtains can be recess-mounted so that the sounds are muffled in the ceiling. The recessed units are also much more hidden from sight making it a win for the low sound and low profile.
So, in fact it is not true that all air curtains are loud.
In some industrial settings the size of the air curtain is less important and the larger air curtains almost balances out with the size of the door opening and the large, commercial equipment moving in and out of the facility. In other spaces like hospitality, foodservice, luxury residences and more elegant office spaces, a more refined unit is preferred. There are air curtains that are recessed into the ceiling which makes them significantly less visible and much quieter because their sound is muffled by the drywall and ceiling structure.
Other commercial air curtains, like the QuietPro® shown below, are elliptical, elongated and elegant and do not look anything like the industrial air door you might see in a large warehouse or manufacturing environment. So air curtains in fact come in many different sizes and shapes and sound profiles and not all are loud or big and bulky.
In the beginning air curtains were called into service to deflect flies. Because air doors performed so well, they gained in popularity and the association of using air doors for fly control was widely adopted. It became clear that air curtains could benefit commercial buildings and commercial operations after the widespread adoption of air curtains for fly control. Air curtains are now used and recognized for:
Air curtains have even been studied for their ability to protect from Covid. So the early days of the air curtain being designed to stop flies from migrating inside have been replaced with the use of air curtains all over a building envelope. Commercial air curtains are now credited with helping to create sustainable buildings and better indoor air quality while they make interiors more comfortable.
Receiving doors are common application sites for air curtains because of the nearby refuse that can be aromatic and a breeding ground for flying pests. Some health departments also mandate air curtains at the receiving door in foodservice settings; other operators are concerned about foodborne illness associated with flies and wisely choose to tackle the issue proactively whether or not a health department is involved.
In addition, some operators use air curtains with UVC to remove the odors at the receiving door, a common place for odor build-up. UVC bulbs use a technology that eliminates odor. Unlike a cover up scent, they break down the odors to eradicate them completely.
In fact today you find air curtains providing protection and thermal separation at the front entrance, pass-thru windows, inside separating spaces, at healthcare entry doors, at walk-in boxes, at schools, even in places like a butterfly garden to persuade butterflies to stay inside gently. A recent study in Science Daily discusses the use of desktop air curtains used in a healthcare setting to stop the spread of Covid. When saving energy is increasingly more important because of climate change and the carbon footprint, you can justify an air curtain over every door.
Because of the energy that the air curtain saves, facility managers and building operators spend less on their actual utility bill. This means for example if you spend $400 on an air curtain and you then start to save $60 on your utility bill every month it would take 6.6 months for the air curtain to pay for itself in the savings you achieve. Then every month after that the air curtain has paid for itself and the savings becomes money back into your operating budget.
There is a ROI (Return on Investment) calculator available that allows you to input your specific information so you can get a precise timeline for your payback. The ROI calculator has all of the utility information for states across the United States.
An air curtain is one of the most effective and energy-efficient solutions for maintaining a safe, hygienic, and comfortable indoor environment. Whether specified at building design or easily retrofitted to an existing structure, air curtains are highly versatile products that benefit occupants in real-time and benefit the sustainability of the facility. They require very little maintenance and also extend the lifespan of your HVAC system when they reduce the work the system must perform (the HVAC systems cycles on and off less with air curtains at entries).
However, all air curtains aren’t created equally; there are several important factors to consider before you make your choice. The Mars Product Selector is a handy tool that can guide you through your selection process in just a few clicks. If you need more help or information to find an air curtain that best suits your business needs, contact us today.