How Does Commercial Ductwork Differ from Residential Ductwork?

The primary objective of an HVAC system is to heat and cool the environment where it has been installed. For this to happen, the system must be connected to ductwork. And there are different ductwork systems available for commercial and residential use. For those who are unfamiliar with a duct system, it is a network of passages that facilitate the flow of air throughout a home or commercial building. This process involves the system pulling air from inside the house or commercial building before heating or cooling it and finally returning it to the structure’s living space via ductwork.


When it comes to commercial and residential ductwork, there are some differences relative to components, maintenance, and design. That said, residential and commercial duct systems are often comprised of one of the following:

  • Stainless steel ducts
  • Fiberglass lined ducts
  • Fiberboard ducts

Although the duct system in both residential and commercial HVAC systems will entail using stainless steel, fiberglass, or fiberboard duct systems, this is usually where the similarities end. For example, maintaining the ductwork for a commercial HVAC system requires significant training on the part of a technician. As a result, the cost associated with cleaning these systems is often higher than their residential counterparts. And this is despite the fact that gas-powered vacuums are used to clean both systems.


Something else to note when it comes to residential and commercial ductwork is the difference in design. For example, the ductwork used in commercial applications is more complex than those designed for residential use. To further put this into context, commercial ductwork uses what is known as a trunk-and-branch design, which is ideal for heating or cooling large indoor areas. Unlike residential ductwork, however, commercial ductwork will require larger drainage systems and significantly more ventilation.


All in all, there are many differences and similarities that exist between residential and commercial duct systems, but most industry experts will agree that they play a critical role when it comes to providing a comfortable living space when outside temperatures are stifling hot or frigidly cold. To learn more about ductwork design or to receive an estimate, consider speaking with one of our friendly and knowledgeable associates today at 408-295-2182.

Hiring a mechanical engineer for building retrofits, rebuilds, additions, or enhancements is the quickest and surest way to obtain the ideal facilities for supporting your operations. Are you ready to make your workplace more modern, efficient, or compliant? If so, we can help.

Call us today at 408-295-2182.


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