Duct Damper 101

Energy conservation is essential in protecting the environment and its non-renewable resources, and plays a significant role in reducing energy costs. Zone control systems are an HVAC structure that allows operators to precisely manage their building’s climate by dividing the facility into smaller, individually regulated spaces known as zones.

These installations improve the efficiency of airflow in buildings, reducing total energy expenditure and associated costs. Zoned systems rely on the use of duct dampers to achieve these benefits. 

What Is a Duct Damper?

A duct damper—or HVAC damper—is an adjustable metal plate or valve installed into the ductwork as part of a more extensive zone control system, with the primary responsibility of controlling the airflow into pre-defined spaces in a building. Making changes to the damper position forces hot or cold air to flow into specific zones, providing an avenue for energy conservation by cutting off or reducing the flow of climate-controlled air to unused space while allowing for precise temperature regulation in other parts of a facility.

Most zone control systems include as many as one duct damper for each major and minor branch stemming from the primary HVAC unit. Buildings can be constructed with zoned systems from the start or retrofitted with the necessary components later. Fewer dampers are generally required when builds are designed to include a zone control system from the outset as more efficient layouts in ductwork are possible. 

Motorized Duct Damper vs. Manual Duct Damper

Duct dampers are categorized as either motorized or manual.

Motorized Duct Dampers 

Motorized or automatic duct dampers use a series of small, electric or pneumatic motors to control the position of damping plates and valves without requiring human intervention. They can be controlled remotely and set to maintain precise climate conditions. Motorized dampers have the ability to self-regulate, working in conjunction with pre-programmed thermostats to calculate the specific airflow and temperature adjustments required to maintain the environment.

Automatic dampers offer more precise climate control and improved system efficiency over their manual counterparts. They are especially useful as part of zone control systems in buildings where multiple ducts regulate airflow to various spaces, or when ductwork is otherwise difficult to reach. 

Manual Duct Dampers

Manual dampers are controlled by handles or levers located outside an air vent and near a branch in the ductwork. They allow an operator to manually adjust the airflow in a space by turning the handle and locking it into position.

Although not as intuitive or precise as motorized dampers, manual duct dampers are simple to use, durable, and low-maintenance. They are beneficial in spaces that can withstand minor climate variations, where there are fewer distinct spaces in need of climate regulation or where ductwork is easily accessible. 

The Alan Manufacturing Guarantee

Duct dampers are a critical component of zone control HVAC systems, and selecting the appropriate mechanical variation of system dampers can impact its ease of use, precision, and efficiency.

For more than 25 years, Alan Manufacturing, Inc., has specialized in producing high-quality dampers for the HVAC industry. To learn more about using dampers to improve the functionality of your HVAC system, contact us today.

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