Air Vents and Grilles

Understanding the Differences in Air Vents, Registers, and Grilles

If your home has central heating and air, it contains a series of openings used to transfer air to and from the air conditioner and furnace. These openings are the grilles, vents, and registers. This is your guide to speaking like a pro when you talk about airflow within your home.

Understanding and Replacing Air Vents

“Vent” is a generic term used to cover all supply and return air sources connected to a central air-conditioning system. All registers, grilles, and returns are vents.

Home and building owners don’t need to know the difference between air registers and grilles. However, the knowledge may come in handy if you need to describe a problem to your technician or replace vents inside your home. In some spaces, you may have the option of installing a register or decorative grille interchangeably. Follow these tips to replace air vents within your home:

  • Look for the damper. If the vent you want to replace has a movable part that allows you to adjust airflow, keep that in mind as you search for a replacement. In some spaces, having an adjustable vent may improve the airflow experience
  • Identify the placement. Vents in walls, ceilings, and floors may look different and have different setups. When you replace your vent, you may need to look for a specific style to match the placement.
  • Measure before you buy. Instead of taking the old grille or register to the store with you, measure the air duct. The length and width of the opening will provide you with the information you need to choose a well-suited vent for your space.
  • Ask an HVAC professional. If you plan to replace several vents, ask your HVAC for recommendations. The style and location of the vents may affect your overall air quality.

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How Air Registers Work

Air registers have slatted openings in the floor, wall, or ceiling that a user can control using an adjustable damper. Typically, a rolling guide or a lever on one side of the vent, the damper opens or closes access to the air duct for airflow management. These openings do not bring air back to the HVAC system, but deliver heated or cooled air into a space.

Heating and Air Grilles

Grilles are permanent, unmovable fixtures that may serve an air supply or return function. Grilles are found in residential ceilings and walls, but a company may install them in floors in certain cases. Depending on the system setup, a home may have one larger return grille or several small ones throughout the home. The air return is a grille that serves one purpose – to pull air back into the central heating and air system for reuse.

Whether you’re curious about HVAC terminology or you’re trying to understand more about the appliances within your home, hopefully this provided you with some insights into air vents. Registers, grilles, and returns all play important roles in heating and air conditioning, and keep you comfortable throughout the year.  Contact us today if you have any additional questions.


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