Stainless steel ductwork may cost a little more than galvanised or GRP, but there are cases in industrial units in which stainless steel is the definitely the best choice. In fact, stainless steel is one of the best materials for ducting and is needed in a number of environments, such as for ductwork in factories that deal with waste, because of the caustic or hazardous nature of the air being ventilated. The food industry and food processing environments use stainless steel to prevent bacteria trapping in welds, for example.
Ultimately, high integrity ductwork is crucial for environments where temperatures, moisture, dust and other particulates may affect products and employee’s health and wellbeing. There are so many benefits to using stainless steel, which we will discuss in more detail below.
Stainless steel ducting is an HVAC solution that keeps air clean and healthy in an indoor environment. As the name implies, it’s made of stainless steel, a material that doesn’t rust and is typically resistant to damage, making it a popular ductwork installation choice among many commercial businesses.
It’s used in particularly tough environments, especially those in hot or humid settings. It’s also a preferred choice for spaces with air-containing compounds that could harm or damage regular options like galvanised steel ducting. HVAC experts and engineers often opt for stainless steel in aggressive environments prone to corrosion due to its strong and stable properties.
The two terms can be confusing and often mistaken when used interchangeably. However, the main difference between sheet metal ductwork and stainless steel ductwork lies in the materials used for their construction.
Sheet metal ductwork (also known as sheet metal fabrication) is composed of various types of sheet metals, such as galvanised steel, aluminium, or mild steel. Galvanised steel is commonly chosen for its cost-effectiveness and moderate resistance to corrosion.
In contrast, stainless steel ductwork is crafted entirely from stainless steel – an alloy consisting of steel and chromium. The inclusion of chromium provides stainless steel with exceptional resistance to corrosion and durability, making it highly suitable for a wide range of applications, which we’ll dive into a little later on.
Below are some of the many benefits of stainless steel ducting:
Stainless steel’s extreme durability and longevity are among its many benefits. The strength of stainless steel actually provides numerous cost saving benefits. It resists corrosion from harsh substances, can be used in both indoor and outdoor applications and provides years of use without necessitating replacement.
The waste and chemical industry often opt to go for GRP which is less expensive up front, but stainless steel is easier to work with, more durable and lasts much longer. Furthermore, it has the added bonus of being abrasion resistant and its rigidity makes is a great choice for moving high volumes of air.
Unlike various other materials, stainless steel will remain strong and hold it’s shape at the very extremes of temperatures. This is very relevant in many industries that deal with extremely high or very low temperatures.
Environmentally, stainless steel is the better choice because it resists moisture and condensation, both of which can lead to the accumulation of harmful mould or mildew. Due to the high recycle/recapture rate, stainless steel is viewed as the “green” choice. It can reduce energy consumption during production and is 100% recyclable so it can be easily turned into a new metal, either stainless or carbon steel. Plus, recycled stainless steel is used in the generation of solar, nuclear, geothermal, and wave power as well as the production of alternative energy equipment.
Stainless steel ducting is the preferred choice in hygienically critical environments like hospitals, labs, and food processing facilities. Its non-porous surface effectively hinders the growth of harmful microorganisms, including bacteria and fungi, ensuring clean and uncontaminated air circulation in these settings.
In residential properties, be it homes, student accommodations, care homes and the like – the smoothness of stainless steel ducting can help prevent allergens and dust from adhering to the duct walls, resulting in cleaner air quality within your living spaces. This feature contributes to a healthier and more comfortable indoor environment for residents.
We’ve established stainless steel ductwork’s functional benefits, but it can also bring an air of sophistication to a commercial environment too. Its sleek and modern look effortlessly complements contemporary interior designs, making it a preferred option among architects and designers. You can even find them in food halls and other places open to the public, as its aesthetic appeal is pretty popular.
Plus, stainless steel ducting comes in a variety of shapes and sizes, meaning it can be designed to suit your specific needs. This adaptability proves particularly valuable when dealing with unconventional or complex building layouts. Whether you’re working with tight or irregular spaces, stainless steel ducting can be tailored to meet your exact needs, ensuring an efficient and visually appealing HVAC system.
Stainless steel ductwork is widespread across a variety of industries, including but not limited to:
One of the main applications of stainless steel ductwork is in HVAC systems. It helps to distribute warm or cool air throughout buildings, making indoor spaces more comfortable to work in.
Stainless steel ductwork is also used in exhaust and ventilation systems to remove bad smells, dust, and other pollutants from places like factories and kitchens. It helps to keep the air clean and safe for people to breathe.
In places where cleanliness is crucial, like pharmaceutical labs, medical practices and computer chip manufacturers – stainless steel ductwork is used to create clean rooms and controlled environments. These facilities need to be very clean, and stainless steel ductwork helps keep them that way.
The grades of stainless steel ductwork are primarily 304 or 316.
Yes, ductwork can be susceptible to rust, especially when it is made from materials like galvanised steel, which tends to corrode over time when exposed to moisture and other environmental factors. Rust can weaken a ductwork’s structure and lead to air leaks, compromising the effectiveness of the ductwork installed.
However, to counteract ductwork rust, a great solution is to use stainless steel ductwork. Stainless steel is highly resistant to corrosion and rust due to its smooth surfacing. It prevents the growth of rust-causing agents and shields the ductwork from moisture and other elements.
It’s important to ensure regular inspections and maintenance to spot any signs of rust early on and address them promptly. Additionally, properly sealing and insulating the ductwork can provide an extra layer of protection against moisture, preventing rust formation and extending the system’s lifespan. By choosing stainless steel ductwork and implementing preventive measures, you can significantly reduce the risk of rust and ensure a dependable and efficient HVAC system for years to come.
Obviously, there will be many occasions in which stainless steel ducting isn’t necessary, for example in smaller-scale commercial businesses. However, all large scale facilities and factories should consider stainless steel. Contact us or give us a call on 0161 764 4004 to discuss your ducting requirements.