Little Big Stuff: HVAC Grilles
A series on the "little stuff" in a project that has a big impact...and that you shouldn't ignore!
Whether you’re working on high end residential projects or a 250 unit multifamily project, you should carefully consider this often overlooked element in a project: HVAC grilles. If you’ve got a forced air system, you’ve got ‘em, and all it takes is a small amount of effort to make sure these aren’t an eyesore on your project.
What we’ll cover here:
What exactly are grilles and what do they do?
What are some options: aesthetic perspective
What are some options: technical perspective
Specs and resources
I’m just going to say it right at the beginning - I’m a huge mechanical systems and HVAC nerd and I have a lot to say about this - I’ll gradually build out a whole bunch of posts around these topics. Rest assured that I know there is a ton more info about all this, and I’ll get to it, but we’re trying to stick to bite size snacks around here!
Alright, let’s dive in!
1. What exactly are grilles and what do they do?
In a forced air HVAC system with ductwork, the ducts terminate on the wall, in the ceiling, or at the floor in a grille, or register, that protects the duct from debris, cuts down on noise from the system, makes things look nicer, and ensures that the air is actually getting delivered to [or returned from] the space. You’ve seen them before:
This one is a supply register, because it has an adjustable damper to control air flow [notice that little lever on the left that moves the fins on the inside]. Strictly speaking, grilles generally refer to returns, and registers to supplies. Generally, the idea is to hide them, or at least not make them a feature [more on that later], but you do have to put them in prominent locations sometimes, because you need to place the air properly to make the space comfortable and balance the supply/return air in the house/unit.
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