Plastic ducting: benefits and its different applications

Duct systems for buildings have become one of the essential parts to guarantee its users’ comfort, to the point where choosing the right system plays a key role in energy optimization and cost reductions. Plastic ducting stands out as one of the most efficient HVAC ducting structures in the industry today. We take a look at the different plastic ducting options and their main benefits and applications.

What is plastic ducting?

HVAC plastic ducting refers to the network of plastic tubes built within walls, floors, and ceilings in charge of conducting hot and cold air to regulate a building’s temperature. 

While HVAC ducting has traditionally been made of sheet metal or fiberglass board, plastic has emerged as one of the most efficient materials to build this type of structure.

Typically made of PVC or, more recently, EPP, plastic ducting is manufactured by pouring plastic foam into pre-fabricated molds, replacing the more complex process of bending sheet metal. These molds can generate both rectangular and round plastic ducting pieces, depending on the available space, among other criteria.

Types of plastic used in HVAC ducting

PVC: A classic approach to plastic ducting

Industrial PVC has been the quintessential choice for ventilation pipe systems for decades. Compared to earlier galvanized steel systems, this material offered advantages in terms of higher resistance to corrosion and degradation, as well as facilitating a more lightweight structure that could easily be incorporated into ceilings or roofs. 

EPP: A versatile material with high performance

EPP or expanded polypropylene is an extremely versatile foam plastic that has recently stood out as an outstanding alternative for plastic ducting. 

Some of this material’s benefits include: 

  • Extremely lightweight
  • Great thermal insulation, avoiding thermal bridges and other energy inefficiencies. In fact, the thermal conductivity of EPP is usually at the level of λ = 0.036-0,040 [W/m*k]. Thus, this type of plastic ducting doesn’t require additional insulation, unlike other options for ventilation ducting.
  • EPP ducts and fittings can be connected by means of a muff supplied to each element. This means each joint can be designed in such a way to allow for the system to achieve a defined tightness class, and the system’s channels can fit directly into the recuperator nozzles. Additionally, wall thickness can be individually adjusted to each project’s requirements. 

plastic ducting

Benefits of using plastic ducting

Initially, plastic ducting can represent a higher investment in comparison to metal structures or other alternatives. However, this material’s high energy efficiency and other benefits mean that the system is more economical in the medium and long term, considering the structure’s full life cycle.

This is achieved through the following benefits:

Thermal insulation  and energy consumption 

According to a publication by the U.S Department of energy, typical duct systems lose 25 to 40 percent of the heating or cooling energy put out by the central furnace, heat pump, or air conditioner. 

This represents a huge energy inefficiency that can be avoided by using the right plastic ducting structure: by providing outstanding thermal insulation, EPP HVAC ducting

 cuts down energy consumption and generates significant cost savings.

Installation of plastic ducting

Because of its lightweight, EPP plastic ducting for HVAC systems represents an easy-to-install structure. 

The process is further simplified as these pieces can be cut to fit each project’s needs and because they need less mounting accessories and connections, including no additional fasteners or screws nor a suspension system.

All in all, assembly and installation times are minimized, providing extra-economic savings. 

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Airtightness and leaking prevention in HVAC ducting    

Plastic ducting presents an adequate solution for airtightness and leaking prevention, as this material eliminates air escapes and is durable and resistant to corrosion.

Want to learn more about plastic ducting and its benefits for HVAC systems? At Knauf Appliances, we’re experts in designing and manufacturing plastic pieces for ventilation systems. Get in touch with us and learn more about our options and their benefits for each project.

* The image used in this post belongs to ALNOR Systemy Wentylacji who has in exclusive the rights to its use and reproduction.

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