The Complete Guide To Air Curtains:
How Air Curtains Work & Why They’re Used


This guide will explain the fundamentals of air door curtains. Below we will detail how they work, why they are used, the key benefits, different types and a brief history.

What is an Air Curtain?

Air curtains (sometimes referred to as air doors) use a controlled stream of air across the entrance of a building to create an air seal. To put it simply, an air curtain is a continuous stream of air blown from the top to the bottom of an open doorway. The seal created by an air curtain separates the outside climate from the inside climate. This allows for a great deal of control over a building’s temperature (no matter the weather outside).

The main reason for people to use air curtains is the huge energy savings that these products are able to provide. They provide energy savings through the containment of both heated and conditioned air. This feature means air curtains lend themselves well to commercial properties such as retail stores (more so than the average household). A comfortable environment for both customers and employees can be created from this system, without obstructing customer access. Air curtains also help to stop unwanted insects flying into your home!

The Different Types Of Air Curtains

There are types of air curtains currently available on the market. These are recirculating and non-recirculating (the later being most common).

Non-recirculating Air Curtains

Non-recirculating air curtains are the more common choice. This is due to them being easier (and quicker) to install while also having lower maintenance costs. That being said, they are less efficient than their recirculating alternatives and usually offer less control.

Recirculating Air Curtains

Recirculating air curtains are the better option for commercial properties that experience high footfall throughout the year. Customer entrance air doors are built into the entrance of a building and will allow for greater control of the temperatures inside a commercial building. You’ll never need to worry about the outside weather conditions again!

The Advantages Of Using An Air Curtain

Here are just some of the many benefits of using an air curtain!

  • Maximise energy efficiency
  • Save money through energy savings
  • Reduce draughts
  • Create a comfortable environment for employees and customers
  • Reduce the amount of insects entering
  • Improve workforce productivity
  • Keep the space surrounding the main entrance of a building (allowing for higher footfall)
  • Deal with fog and condensation in cold storage areas – this can be useful for food storage

How Does an Air Curtain Work?

An air curtain follows a relatively simple process. Air is brought into the unit through an intake. Air then passes through the fan into a plenum, which allows for an even distribution of air. The nozzle of the air system will then provide evenly distributed air throughout the entrance.

To allow for optimal performance and efficiency from your air curtain the angle of the air discharge nozzle should be positioned to aim inward or outward at a 20 degree angle from the entrance. The air discharged through the nozzle creates a jet stream to the floor. Usually a total of 80% of the air will return to the intake and 20% will move in the opposite direction.

Non-recirculating air curtains can be mounted horizontally above the door or vertically on one or both sides of the door. You are likely to notice them in many small retail outlets or local shops. It’s installation is dependant on a number of factors. These are; available space, height, width and shape of the entrance. The best option is usually a horizontal mount above the door because this will minimize the chance of damaging the air curtain, resulting in lesser efficiency.

A note on safety:

Always remember that protective measures must be taken if you opt for a vertical mount. Consider the points listed below before selecting the type, size, power and features of your air curtain installation:

  • The physical dimensions of the entrance where an air curtain will be installed
  • The type of door being used
  • Who will be using the entrance — customers, employees, etc.
  • Outdoor weather conditions in your area
  • Drafts currently present at the entrance

How To Maintain Your Air Door Curtain

Air Door Depot systems won’t need a great deal of maintenance. We recommend cleaning your air curtain every other month. Cleaning your air curtain system regularly will ensure it works effectively for a longer period of time, extending the life of your product. It’s also worth mentioning that dirty, dusty or greasy environments may warrant a more intensive and more regular cleaning programme.

How To Clean Your Air Curtain

  1. Switch the power off
  2. Lock the service panel – this will stop the power being switched on accidentally
  3. Remove the air intake grille for access to the housings and motors
  4. If you’re using a heated model, remove the bottom access panel to access the blower and motors
  5. Remove any build-up of dirt and debris – a standard vacuum can be used

It’s that simple! For instructions for your particular model, take a look at the relevant instruction manual. This will have detailed info on cleaning methods for your particular air curtain model.

The History of the Air Curtain

The first U.S. patent for air curtains (air doors) was issued in 1904 to Theophilus Van Kannel. Surprisingly, the first recorded air curtain installation was not made until some 12 years later. Air curtains became increasingly popular in Europe throughout the late 1940s and 1950s.

Next Steps

Hopefully you know a little more about air curtains and you can now understand the benefits they can provide for your business! Browse our range of air door curtains online and see how our specialist models could benefit your business or building!

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Air Door Depot designs, manufactures and sells a wide range of commercial air curtains for the restaurant, medical, industrial and manufacturing industries. Our products are reliable, they are durable and they come with our exclusive satisfaction guarantee.