One of the challenges of operating a busy retail business is maintaining an even level of comfort for customers and staff, especially if you have automatic doors that constantly open and close. The draft generated when a customer walks in or out of your business can rob your building of warm air in the winter and allow uncomfortably humid and hot air to enter during summer. If you find it difficult to keep your building at a consistent level of comfort, air curtains are an excellent option. However, air curtains require proper setup and ongoing maintenance for them to operate at a peak level of performance. Here is what you need to know about them:
Understanding air curtains
Air curtains, also called air doors, use focused jets of air blown toward the ground to create invisible barriers that separate the outside air from the inside air. They are mounted immediately above doorways or openings into a building. A properly installed air curtain can reduce heating and cooling losses by a considerable amount; however, a poorly installed machine can actually cause more harm than good by encouraging poor circulation instead of serving as a barrier.
Getting it right from the start
Air curtain installation isn't usually a complicated procedure for most models, but you should follow the manufacturer's instructions completely. While each model is different, below are a few common considerations when installing:
Ensure your height capability is right for the doorway– air curtains are rated according to their maximum height capabilities. For example, an air curtain that has a twelve feet height maximum will not properly work at any height above that. On the other hand, using a machine that is too powerful for a smaller doorway can cause excessive air turbulence and discomfort for persons passing through the door.
Match power phase to your machine – some commercial properties are wired with a three-phase electrical circuit, which provides more energy for high-power devices. If your building uses three-phase power, be sure that you match the air curtain's motor to ensure proper operation. On the flip side, providing a three-phase air curtain motor with one-phase power can also cause poor performance.
Adjust the outflow to the proper angle – air curtains only work if the outflow of high-velocity air is aimed in the right direction. While each machine has a specific recommendation for angles, air curtains should be aimed at the ground with a slight outward deviation from straight down. Be sure to adhere to the manufacturer's instructions and adjust the angle accordingly.
Balance air pressure inside your building with the outside – for an air curtain to work properly, the air pressure inside and outside of your building should be as close to equal as possible. Negative pressure pulls in air from the outside, while positive pressure pushes air out of your building. Both conditions will interfere with an air curtain's ability to create a barrier, and both situations are also wasteful from an energy conservation standpoint.
Keeping it clean
Air curtains generally operate without a significant amount of maintenance; for example, many have sealed motors that don't require lubrication. However, air curtains will need periodic cleaning to keep them operating efficiently and to prevent shortening their lifespans, as well. As with any device that moves air, it will collect significant amounts of dust and debris over a period of time. Accumulated debris can find its way into motors and moving parts, and it can also be blown onto customers and others who pass beneath the air curtains.
Keeping air curtain cleans can be accomplished by periodically disassembling the housing and motor and wiping the parts with a clean, damp cloth. Use a vacuum with a crevice tool for reaching into inaccessible areas to remove dust and debris. If your air curtain has a filter unit, remove and replace the cartridge, or clean if it is a reusable unit.
Contact a commercial heating expert for more information.