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Choose Spiral Round Ductwork

Any observant building manager or owner can’t help but notice the proliferation of exposed spiral sheet metal HVAC ductwork as a key architectural design element in both the new construction and renovation of commercial buildings.

From high-end cafés to hip home-furnishings stores, the use of spiral duct creates a contemporary look in any space, which raises a question: Is the move to spiral duct simply a trend or is it supported by practical considerations such as higher energy savings and better indoor environmental quality?

Perhaps we can borrow from an old late-night talk show host and create our own Top 10 list of reasons why spiral duct has gained so much popularity …

10. Air leakage at duct joints can lead to energy loss and impaired system efficiency. Quality self-sealing spiral duct systems can guarantee a system that meets or exceeds the highest industry air-leakage standard.

9. When leakage is virtually eliminated, the cost of filtering, heating, cooling, and distributing conditioned air is kept to a minimum. One study shows that a national shift to more airtight systems would lead to an annual energy savings comparable to the annual energy product of three nuclear power plants.

8. The pressure drop of air leaving an air-handler is usually lower in a typical spiral system. The spiral design provides equal pressure internally and allows the air to flow evenly and efficiently, also leading to lower energy use.

7. Air leakage can be detrimental to indoor air quality. Because of concern regarding “sick buildings,” there is a demand for more fresh-air intake. With airtight ducts, it is easier and more economical to meet these stricter demands.

6. The problem of noise breakout can be avoided with spiral duct because the reverberation created by the pressure differential existing in rectangular duct does not occur with spiral duct.

5. The inherent design of rectangular duct involves air moving around sharp edges, dampers, and turning vanes. Obstruction to airflow can contribute to noisy turbulence. With spiral duct, less sharp edges equal less noise.

4. Many facilities now require regular inspection and internal cleaning of ductwork. The approved cleaning methods for spiral duct are readily available, economical, and effective.

3. With rectangular duct, extra space – up to 3 inches extra – must be factored in for the connections and reinforcements needed at each joint. This is not a consideration when installing spiral ductwork.

2. Air-flow measurement, a periodic responsibility of a mechanical engineer, can be simplified. Many accurate and inexpensive flow-measurement devices specifically designed for spiral duct enable regular check-ups or continuous monitoring.

1. The installed cost of spiral round ductwork – which includes product, parts, labor, warehousing, transportation, packaging, and waste disposal – can be considerably less than rectangular duct (in some cases, up to 50-percent less).

Written by Dave Pest and originally published on buildings.com in 2007.

But of course we’re going to say that! To help you along your journey, here are some sources we didn’t write:

Other Sources

The Efficiency in Round
By Eugene Smithart, P.E., LEED-AP
From the August 2015 issue of Engineered Systems

The HVAC Factor: Spiral Round Ductwork
By Gene Smithart, P.E., LEED AP
From the August 2013 issue of Today’s Facility Manager

Spiral Duct is a Contractor’s Best Choice
By Jeff Rogers, President of the Energy Audit Institute
From the June 2012 issue of SNIPS Magazine

Weighing the Advantages of Spiral vs. Rectangular Duct
By Peeter Vesik, SPIDA Chairman
From the December 2016 Issue of SNIPS Magazine

The Spiral Duct Manufacturers Association (SPIDA)
was formed to promote the use of round duct, spiral duct (spiral pipe) and flat oval duct by informing the public of its advantages, supporting testing and research of round duct and spiral pipe, and providing manufacturers with specialized information necessary to the efficient operation of the business of the members.

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