What to Consider When Specifying Air Curtains

The Energy Policy and Conservation Act (EPCA) (Section 312) compliance code mandates air infiltration reduction methods, such as strip curtains, spring-hinged swinging vinyl doors or other options, for all walk-in coolers manufactured after Jan. 1, 2009.

When installing an air curtain, operators should take into consideration its location in relation to staff and, especially, the front of the house. This is because units have different noise outputs and air velocities, which can impact an operation’s atmosphere and customers’ dining experiences.

For example, customer entrances should not be equipped with high-velocity air-door systems as they can create an unpleasant entrance. Systems installed at customer entrances should include a heating function that can be turned on during colder weather.

Here, Trish Jass, senior equipment specialist at Robert Rippe & Associates, Minnetonka, Minn., provides insight on specifying air curtains.

  • There is a wide range of housing material to choose from. In high-volume operations, we tend to stay away from the powder-coated housings as these can peel and rust. We try to specify stainless steel housings as often as possible for added durability.
  • One of the issues we’ve run into is that the air velocity requirements on exterior doors differ depending on the region. It’s important to confirm that a system adheres to local codes and regulations.
  • Health departments are more concerned about the air curtain’s installation in correlation with the doorway height. These requirements vary depending on the region. The unit’s discharge velocity is not typically a consideration.
  • It’s important to include an automatic door activation switch so that when the door is opened, the air curtain kicks on.
  • Operators should confirm that the air curtain’s width matches the width of the door opening. In this case, more is better.
  • There are certain types of air curtains designated for use within walk-in freezers. These models are designed to withstand these units’ frigid temperatures. Otherwise, the system can be mounted on the walk-in’s exterior.
  • Walk-ins with sliding doors may require that air curtains be mounted on the inside.


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