Spiral Your Way to Savings

An interior view of a piece of spiral duct work being fabricated in a sheet metal shop

Energy efficiency is, or should be, constantly top of mind for facility managers or owners when it comes to cost savings and environmental responsibility. It’s common to first think of the daily actions you can take to cut down on unnecessary use of resources such as turning off the lights in a vacant room, not running water wastefully, or having a programmable thermostat set to reduce excess use of energy when a building is empty. These are all great things that you can and should do to help lower your utility bills and energy consumption, but what if you could take it a step further to increase efficiency deep in the bones of your buildings? Look no further than spiral!

What is spiral ductwork?

When we say spiral, we’re referring to a vital component of your building’s HVAC system: the detailed network of ducts that transfer air throughout your facility. Traditionally, rectangular ducts have been used, but research shows that spiral ducts are an ideal fit for those seeking energy efficiency and cost savings, especially in variable air volume (VAV) systems.

Energy Efficiency

In order to save on utility bills, we must first look at how the building is operating as a whole and where there is room for improvement. When it comes to comparing spiral vs. rectangular ducts in terms of energy efficiency, there are a wide variety of elements to consider, some of which include:

Leakage Air leakage at duct joints is one of the top contributing factors to energy loss, impaired efficiency, and indoor air quality issues such as condensation. Each year in the United States, duct leakage wastes on average 28.6 billion kw-hrs of electricity, costing building owners close to $3 billion, according to this article. High-quality spiral duct networks can meet or exceed industry air-leakage standards due to their self-sealing design. Round or spiral ductwork can have leakage rates of less than 1%, compared to 3% or higher in the most efficient rectangular ducts available today.

Air Movement Remember for a moment what it was like going down that curved metal slide on the playground when you were a child; you were able to quickly and smoothly glide your way down with ease. Now imagine that instead of the gradual turn or curvature, the slide had a 90° angle design. The spiral design allows for continued momentum, whereas the latter would cause resistance in flow or movement. This concept also applies to the spiral vs. rectangular ductwork design. For a more in-depth look at how this works, including how the roles of velocity pressure, static pressure, and friction contribute to the end result, click here.

Eliminate Noise – With a spiral duct system, you have the ability to eliminate components that contribute to noise pollution, such as sharp edges, turning vanes, and dampers (valves or plates inside a duct that stop or regulate airflow). Used in duct systems for cutting off air to an unused room or to regulate temperatures from room to room, dampers cause noise, as well as wasting fan energy. Because of the more efficient airflow design associated with spiral ductwork systems, these provide a quieter atmosphere, which is especially ideal for building owners in sectors such as education, health care, and commercial real estate.

Cost Savings

Spiral duct systems are all about being able to do more with less. When leakage is virtually eliminated and airtight systems are in place, the cost for heating, cooling, filtering, and distributing air is kept at a minimum. This increases the overall efficiency of your entire HVAC system, leading to substantial cost savings on your utility bills.

Looking at building a new structure? Costs of these systems throughout the construction process – production, parts, labor, warehousing, transportation, installation, waste on site – must be at the top of your list when determining ductwork options. Round or spiral ductwork can typically save you in all of these areas for a number of reasons, such as lighter weight that contributes to shorter install time, and decreased amount of material, because the need for additional stiffeners and hangers is significantly reduced. When calculating the cost, compared to alternative ductwork systems, spiral can cost approximately 2/3 as much as rectangular.

Contemporary and Clean

To add to these extremely practical and sound points on how spiral ductwork may be a better fit for your system, it is also noteworthy to mention the aesthetic appeal this design can add to any new or existing structure. Some of the most modern and innovative structural designs today feature exposed spiral ductwork, which can offer an attractive industrial flair to any interior.

Additionally, many facilities require regular inspections and internal cleaning of ductwork to maintain a healthy interior, complete with optimal indoor air quality for their occupants. Spiral duct cleaning methods today are efficient, economical, and readily available to building owners for proper maintenance and upkeep.

At Custom Aire, we continuously strive to offer our customers the best industry-leading products and services, to provide you and your facility with the most efficient results possible. Our custom sheet metal fabrication facility plays an extremely vital role in these efforts, utilizing specialized equipment to produce custom ductwork that fits seamlessly and helps your HVAC system to perform optimally. For further information on spiral ductwork and how it can improve your building, contact us today.