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Intake Locations

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  • Intake Locations

    Simple Question, where is the best location for the main return of a modern HVAC system, high near the ceiling or low near the floor, or both?

    I am in the final stages of a 16 year remodel job, and now that the main living area has been gutted I have the oportunity to move the poorly placed supply and return ducts. The room size is 14"x23" with the 14" dimension being exterior walls. My plans were to place the supply ducts near the ext walls on the floor, and then place two returns in this room, one on the ceiling in the center of the 23" span but near the wall, and the second directly across from it placed on the wall rather than the cieling. The three HVAC installers I have had quote on the HVAC system have had differing opinions on the location of these return ducts. Most of the newer homes I have visited seem to have the main return on the wall nearer the ceiling than floor. Any help would be appreciated, and by the way, I am offering a FREE "Learn to Unload,Carry and Hang Drywall" clinic at my home next month if any one is interested.
    A screw ain\'t nothin but a nail with threads

  • #2
    Your question is a hotly debated issue amoung many of the HVAC professionals in my circles. After hearing the many discussions over coffee and on jobsites I think a lot of it depends on where you live. In colder climates a lower return makes sense to help pull the warmer air down from the ceiling and to pull the cooler air in to the furnace for heating. In the warmer climates it would be opposite because cooling is a bigger concern and you need to pull in the warmest air to absorb its heat.

    Another interesting discussion involves installing the outlets on the outside walls versus the inside walls of the building. It seems as if the outside walls have won the discussion for the time being but I have mine on the inside walls and have been very comfortable with some of the lowest bills in the neighborhood.
    Work hard, Play hard, Sleep easy.

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    • #3
      It really depends on a lot of issues. One of the big issues is the location of your equipment. After that you want to make sure your return air is centerally located for proper balabnce.

      Typically a low return air will pickup a lot more dirt than one in the cieling. You also want to have enough distance between the RA grill and the equipment to cut down the blower noise.

      As for supply ducts again it is different for cooling and heating. As air condition is the displacement of hot air I would design your supply registers for heating. My preference (depending on location) is close to the floor below the windows.

      Mark
      "Somewhere a Village is Missing Twelve Idiots!" - Casey Anthony

      I never lost a cent on the jobs I didn't get!

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      • #4
        ToUtahNow,
        Work hard, Play hard, Sleep easy.

        Comment


        • #5
          Okay, I dont know how that last post put itself up but:

          ToUtahNow,

          What you describe is pretty much standard operating procedure in the area I live as well. My home is an older one built in the mid 50s to survive just about anything. The heating system was designed with return air intakes directly below each exterior window except for the kitchen. The heat diffusers are all on the interior walls. It was a bit worrisome when I bought the place but after many winters here, some mild some very cold, I can personally atest to the systems efficiency and comfort. Probably in another 20 years the pendulum will swing back that way.
          Work hard, Play hard, Sleep easy.

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          • #6
            Plumber,

            Changes in construction and energy regulations will keep thing changing. Todays equipment is much more efficent than anything we have seen before and homes are built much tighter and with better insulation.

            When I build my next home (log), I will have radiant heat in the floor and cieling fans in every room. That way the HVAC system will only be used on extreme temp days.

            Mark
            "Somewhere a Village is Missing Twelve Idiots!" - Casey Anthony

            I never lost a cent on the jobs I didn't get!

            Comment


            • #7
              I was leaning towards the high on walls and ceiling location anyway, but your info has helped a great deal.

              Thanks for the tip about distance from the blower, I was planning on making that run as short as possible, but hadn't considered the possible noise problem.
              A screw ain\'t nothin but a nail with threads

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              • #8
                What about placing two return registers in the room, one high and one low, and alternate their use between haeting and cooling seasons. Just close the one off at the floor in the summer and the top one closed in the winter, would this not work?

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                • #9
                  Bob, I don't see why your idea wouldn't work.

                  ToUtah, No doubt we'll keep seeing changes, but in the end it seems the more things change the more they stay the same. Radiant heat is making a comeback of sorts as people figure out how comfortable it is and new products make it less expensive to install.

                  [ 07-19-2005, 11:15 PM: Message edited by: plumber ]
                  Work hard, Play hard, Sleep easy.

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