Flexible v metal ductwork: the differences
Ducting for ventilation, heating, air conditioning and dust extraction systems is used to guide and contain the airflow. There are two principal types – solid metal ducts and flexible ducts – but what are the relative merits of each and which should you use?
Metal ducts are usually made from either aluminium or galvanized steel. They last longer than other types if properly maintained, but metal ducting it is more complex to install. It will therefore usually need to be designed by heating and ventilation experts, taking into account all of the aspects of the ventilation or heating system such as the position and type of dust extraction, heating and air conditioning plants.
Metal ducts also tend to take up more space, so the room available in the building and its overall design will be key too. All of this tends to make metal ducting a more expensive option, but its more robust nature may pay off in lower maintenance costs over the long term.
Flexible ducting can be made of a variety of materials, including rubber, stainless steel, polyurethane, and polyester fabric. It can be used on its own or in conjunction with rigid metal ducting.
The choice of material used will depend partly on the nature of the building and on the use to which the ducting is being put. For example, insulated flexible duct from suppliers such as https://www.dustspares.co.uk/flexible-ducting/insulated-flexible-duct.html can be used in warm air distribution systems. Some materials offer better erosion resistance, making them more suitable for applications like dust extraction.
Flexible ducting is easier to install and doesn’t need as much planning as a rigid metal solution. It can also be used to act as a flue in gas installations. It still needs to be properly installed, however, and properly maintained.
When installing it’s important to avoid any sharp turns or kinks that might compromise the efficiency of the system. Flexible ducting needs to be properly supported too. Connections need to be properly fastened and sealed to prevent leakage, especially where flexible and rigid ductwork meet.
Your choice will ultimately be down to the type of system. Flexible ducts are best for relatively short runs, but when designing a complete air distribution system, metal duct work may be preferable and worth the extra planning and expense involved.