HVAC Systems with Return Air Grilles: What You Should Know

HVAC Systems with Return Air Grilles

Your Options for Return Air Grilles Depend on Your Business’ Strategic Needs – Including Design

 All HVAC systems require two key parts to operate as expected: the supply vents that direct the air and return grilles which pull the air back into the system. Of course, it’s far more complicated than this, and the components and materials needed to construct an effective custom HVAC system are highly technical, but you do want to ensure that your supply and return vents are precisely what you want.

Why? For two reasons. These products are the “customer-facing” parts of your HVAC system – and because they play one of the most important roles – directing air where you want it to go.

Supply and return air grilles use basic physics to move air particles more deftly and efficiently than you might imagine, and – though you don’t often think of HVAC as part of your interior design – many businesses choose their supply and return parts for more than just their utility.


Return Grille Design

Return air grilles can be customized to your design preferences, and a custom HVAC manufacturer likely already has a few ideas in mind to ensure that your HVAC system is putting high quality air in your spaces while looking like part of your design concept.


A custom HVAC manufacturer offer grilles with the following features:


  • Small perforations or angled slats to obscure the ductwork within from view.
  • Polished stainless steel for an industrial, yet refined look.
  • Satin finishes.
  • Counter-sunk screw holes to make screw heads imperceptible.
  • Louvered blades to block any view of a duct’s depth.
  • Round, square, and rectangular shapes, based on design preferences.

Even in operating rooms, where indoor air quality is absolutely critical to a surgeon’s mission, design features are still of the utmost importance. Why? Because in a crowded industry, hospitals still need to be able to demonstrate that their facilities are state-of-the-art and ready to receive you with care, or else their customers will find a hospital that seems more appealing – even if that appeal has more to do with appearance than medicine.

It is, of course, important to have outstanding facilities, as they do promote human health and safety – and there’s nothing wrong with branding one’s business in every possible way, even in terms of design. So, if photos are to be taken of an operating room to share with prospective patients undergoing surgical procedures or to recruit talented doctors, every bit of care should be taken in the construction and design of important medical spaces, including the choice of return air grilles.


Return Grille Technology

Equally, if not more important, is the technology that makes return air grilles effective. A custom HVAC system can include return air grilles that will direct airflow in the ways that you need. Below are some of the options that custom HVAC teams have engineered, and can be useful for a variety of applications:

  • Return air grilles with solid unidirectional slats are used to create airflow back into the system in a predictable way. These standard return grilles are meant to do one job, and they do it well.
  • Return air grilles with adjustable slats are deployed in circumstances where users will want to shift the blades to take in air from various directions, depending on how the supply grilles have been designed and the overall use-case for the HVAC system. For instance, if there are two fan filter units running in different parts of a room, the slats can be used to return air more effectively from one unit as opposed to the other.
  • Most return air grilles are designed to bring in even air flow. The slats in return grilles are carefully designed and consider the physics of how air particles move to ensure that they’re taking in the right amount of air volume.
  • Some return products can be coated with an antimicrobial finish to ensure that contaminated air is eventually inactivated or removed into the HVAC system. These are particularly useful in medical settings and in other industries where airborne contaminants pose a risk to human capital or physical assets.

Your HVAC System Must Have Effective Return Air Grilles

When air is pushed into a space through supply vents, air pressure changes, and so does air temperature. However, air pressure and temperature must be regulated for overall comfort. It would be noticeable if your air supply continued pumping in air without anywhere for it to go.The return grille manages the pressure and temperature of the air by depressurizing the air and recycling it back through the ducts where it is again conditioned and filtered in a constant motion.

In the case of industries where contaminated air is a risk, filtered air enters the space through the supply grilles, and the infected air in the space (for example, from a coughing patient) is pulled out through the return air grilles.

Return Air Grilles: The Essential Worker

Though most of us pay little attention to this part of our HVAC system, the return air grille does as much work as the parts that we care about; namely, moving conditioned air. Upon closer examination, return air grilles are perhaps the most essential component in ensuring an HVAC system works as expected.

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