Ductwork is an important part of all residential heating, ventilation and cooling (HVAC) systems. Consisting of conduits, it moves conditioned air from the furnace and air conditioning system to the individual rooms in a home. There are two different types of ductwork, however: flexible and rigid. While they both consist of conduits, they differ in several ways.
What Is Flexible Ductwork?
Flexible ductwork is characterized by the use of flexible conduits. In other words, it’s able to bend and flex. Ductwork is considered flexible if it features conduits made of a flexible material. It’s still used for the same purpose of distributing conditioned air into rooms. Flexible ductwork simply features flexible conduits that can bend and flex.
Some of the most common materials in which flexible ductwork is made include the following:
· Natural or synthetic rubber
· Polyvinyl chloride (PVC)
What Is Rigid Ductwork?
Rigid ductwork, on the other hand, is characterized by the use of stiff and rigid conduits. The conduits may be rectangular shaped, or they may be cylindrical shaped. Regardless, rigid ductworks feature stiff and rigid conduits. You can’t bend or otherwise deform these conduits – at least not without breaking them.
Some of the most common materials in which rigid ductwork is made include the following:
· Compressed fiberglass
· Aluminum sheet metal
· Steel sheet metal
Differences Between Flexible and Rigid Ductwork
The main difference between flexible and rigid ductwork is that the former can bend and flex, whereas the latter can not. Whether made of rubber, PVC or any other material, all flexible ductwork can bend and flex. Rigid ductwork doesn’t offer these same flexible properties.
Flexible ductwork is easier to install than its rigid counterpart. The conduits can be bent to direct conditioned air to various rooms. For rigid ductwork, joints are often required to change the direction of conditioned air.
Flexible ductwork also costs less than rigid ductwork. The materials from which it’s made are cheaper than those used in the construction of rigid ductwork. As a result, flexible ductwork costs less. And because it’s easier to install, flexible ductwork has lower installation costs.
For residential HVAC systems, flexible ductwork is typically the preferred choice. It’s easier to install and costs less than rigid ductwork. For commercial HVAC systems, conversely, rigid ductwork might be worth the investment. Rigid ductwork lasts longer because it’s made of stronger materials. If you’re looking to buy new ductwork for your home’s HVAC system, though, flexible ductwork should suffice.