What are louvers and when do we need them for air vents? 

What are louvers and when do we need them?  Curious customers want to know! This is a great question, and I love the opportunity to share my HVAC knowledge with you. It’s still not my favorite topic of interest, but hey, gotta embrace the technicalities behind my design career. 

Louvers are those horizontal or vertical slats which one often sees in air vents that are used to direct air flow. They are placed on the underside of the vent cover.  They serve two functions. First, they help to conceal the duct. Secondly, they help to direct and control airflow.  We have learned that more modern homes have a central air system from which air flow is controlled so louvers often aren’t that significant. That being said, most of our customers prefer to have them, ask for them, and the mere fact that they help conceal an unsightly duct is an appeal.  Many people have strong attachments to their old vents (the kind with the manual lever on the outside), so they want to maintain their ability to manually control air flow.  

Louvers are not required, but we recommend louvers in the following instances: Wall and ceiling installations, and for smaller vents (10” x 4”, 12” x 6”, 14” x 6”, etc.) such as the ones we offer on our web store. There are always alternatives, right? If you don’t want louvers, but want to conceal the duct, we recommend painting the duct black. This is a good solution especially for floor installations. We love it— quick, easy and instantly solves a problem.  Sometimes contractors want to maximize air flow for a large piece in the wall, ceiling, or floor so they don’t want louvers or anything to restrict that flow. In this case, we recommend installing an open weave black mesh between the duct and the metal piece to obscure the view, since seeing into the duct is usually unsightly. 

Where Our Metal Louvers Should Be Placed

Bottom line, we recommend louvers for small wall and ceiling pieces, but not for floor or large cold air returns. Since we do recommend the louvers for the smaller vents, we’re transitioning our web shop offerings to include louvers an all ceiling and wall vents.  We use the best louvers out there, very high quality, made in the US.  They’re a matte black, made of metal, and adjustable.  Within the louver attachment, is a small contraption which allows one to make adjustments, opening and shutting the louvers.  This contraption can be accessed by using a long screw driver poked in directly through the vent cover, or the louvers can be manipulated manually to the desired position before installation.  Many many people beg for a vent cover that will have the crank on the side.  They just don’t make them that way anymore!  Additionally, we love our aesthetic of having a clean faced vent without protrusions.

For commercial projects, air flow is often very specifically specified.  For that reason, we have listed all percentage openings in our patterns on our panel data sheet.  There does not seem to be one master rule for air flow in commercial applications, so we can help you customize a pattern to suit your needs if one of ours doesn’t have the perfect opening percentage.  

For residential projects, check out our Accentuate vent covers in our web shop, and if you ever want to chat about louvers or air flow, I’ll keep you entertained!