Air Barriers vs. Air Curtains

What's In A Name?

Air Barrier, air curtain, air door, forced or ducted heated air, door heaters – there are lots of terms for the various models and methods of doorway climate control. Although some systems are just designed to temper the cold air as it enters the building, most are designed to do one thing: control the flow of air between the building and the outside.

Clarifying the difference between these various solutions isn’t easy. Do you need an Air Barrier, or an air curtain? What is the difference between an air door and duct heating? Is there even one?

More importantly, you might ask, which product is the right choice for me and my company? Which doorway solution will deliver the best results for my facility?

Here, we’ve provided a basic comparison of the leading doorway solutions, to help you distinguish between them and make an informed choice.

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What's The Difference Between An Air Barrier And An Air Curtain?

The Air Barrier is Enershield’s patented technology for sealing an open doorway against the outside elements, using re-circulated facility air. We call our product the Air Barrier because, unlike other designs, it’s the only one that provides up to a 90% seal across an open door.

Enershield Air Barrier Competitors Benefit
Top End Fans are galvanized Lower Grade Fans are not galvanized More durable product that can
– 2500 rpm max 1500 rpm max accommodate continuous industrial use. Promotes a more consistent air flow while working at 60% capacity – Extended product life
Heavy Duty Steel Construction Light gauge steel Rigid; protects unit from damage (extended life)
Galvanized Frame & Fans Painted (prone to rust) Durability, allows for High Humidity, Corrosion Resistant
Acoustic Insulation None (high noise level) Allows for quiet operation
Top Air Intake Front (high noise level) Allows for quiet operation – more efficient in scrubbing waste heat from ceiling
Telescopic Sliders None (Brackets made on site) Ease of Install / Cost effective – Ease of relocation if necessary
Top End Motors – Cast Iron Bell Housing Rolled light gauge metal Bell housing Adds rigidity, which reduced vibrations, keeps unit running cooler and quieter. Extended product life
Unique Patented Louver Design Diffuser grille Very effective for laminar airflow uniformity. Creating a very efficient seal
Cabinet length built to door dimension Oversized cabinet-requires more clearance Allows for easier and a more aesthetic installation
2 year Warranty 1 year Warranty Higher Caliber of product with more reliability
Sales & Service Limited representation Nationwide Ability to provide knowledgeable, consistent and timely service and support regardless of location
Higher face velocities and volume ratings – designed for the North Amercian climate Lower performance values make for a less efficient seal. Allows for high efficiencies, increasing energy savings. Effectively seals door without supplementing extra heat.
Enershield Manufacturing Standards: 15-20 year product life expectancy with minimal maintenance. General Manufacturers Standards: 5-10 year product life expectancy with minimal maintenance. Deal with Manufacturer direct – on hand problem solving – serviced by the people that build it

Other Terms And Technologies

For the purposes of comparison, we have focused on the most effective solutions. However, there are several others out there on the market, touched on briefly here to aid in your market research.

Heated overhead air: this refers to the practice of blowing heated air directly over the entryway. While quite popular, it is extremely wasteful—when heated air is blown over a doorway, the air is drawn out of the building by the simple process of convection. This will often be visible as heat waves coming off of an entryway or building. It’s a sure sign of heat loss and waste.

Plastic Strip Curtains: strips of plastic are hung over a doorway, to create a sort of partition, often seen in commercial loading bays. This method is ineffective in keeping out air, fumes or insects, and has little to no effect on internal temperature. It also decreases visibility passing through doorways, creating unsafe conditions in areas where vehicles are used—for example, forklifts on a loading dock. They can also promote cross-contamination in food processing facilities.

Duct heating: very similar to heated overhead air, duct heating simply draws from the building’s internal heating systems to pipe hot air over the entryway. Like other heated overhead air systems, it accomplishes little and can be very expensive to operate.

High-speed rollup door: generally, these are designed to open and close quickly, reducing the amount of time the door is open. The doors are typically made of fabric, and may not provide the same climate protection when closed; when it’s open there is nothing to protect the open doorway. Many high-speed doors encounter maintenance issues associated with the coiling mechanism. On loading docks or factory floors with higher traffic volume, safety can be an issue as well.