Architectural Air Curtains Guide

Architectural Air Curtains provide the standard benefits of traditional Air Curtains (temperature separation, insect control and energy savings) but incorporate elements of style into their design. They can be made of reflective stainless steel, utilize a low-profile design or be recess-mounted into the ceiling where they are hidden from plain sight.

What to look for in an Architectural Air Curtain

A large portion of the building's overall energy loss and consumption can be attributed to air infiltration. The US Department of Energy writes in its Building Energy Data Book that: “Air infiltrations (or air leakages) are often caused by unintentional or accidental introduction of outside air into a building through cracks in the building envelope and/or entrance doors. Infiltrations through door openings become quite significant when the doors are used frequently such as in restaurants, retail stores, supermarkets, offices, and hospitals.”

The last thing a business owner will do is turn away paying customers just to save on energy costs, so there must be a way to ensure total accessibility while keeping energy costs in check. This is the value air curtains provide. Air Curtains have a proven track record of providing an invisible seal that keeps the outside elements exactly where they should be-outside. However, incorporating air curtains into the building design is not always as easy as it seems. Fortunately, there are some solutions in this article that will help you choose the right air curtain for your application.

Choose A Stainless-Steel Air Curtain Case

Cabinet material and style play a significant role in the overall aesthetic and longevity of an air curtain. Powered Aire uses 304 stainless-steel with a #3 finish as its standard cabinet material. This is due to stainless-steel having excellent corrosion resistance and durability. Since most air curtains are installed on the building envelope, it is vital that the cabinet withstands local conditions such as humidity and salty, coastal air. Additionally, the durability of 304 stainless steel makes it extremely easy to clean and sanitize. This is crucial for any food service application.

Function Is Key, But Don't Discount Form

The style of the air curtain cabinet determines not only its visual appearance but how it fits within the space. For commercial applications, Powered Aire offers 4 different variations, each with its own unique purpose.


Powered Aire’s commercial cabinets offer a traditional square design and measure 15”H by 17” deep. They feature beveled edges and a patterned intake screen with perforated holes. They also incorporate Powered Aire’s unique plenum discharge and a variety of motor and control options.

Low Profile

Low-profile models include the MP and EVE models. These slimmed down air curtains are ideal for low clearance applications, concession windows, or when a sleeker look is desired. The MP is a shrunken version of the commercial cabinet with beveled edges and a perforated front intake screen. It measures 8.5” in height and 13” in depth. The EVE features rounded lines and a punched hole pattern on the front intake. The EVE measures 8.5” in height and 14.8i” in depth. Both models boast 304 stainless steel cabinets, however the EVE is also offered in white and black finish.


Powered Aire Chameleon models are designed to mount flush with the ceiling. The decorative intake grille provides a hinged access panel and is powder coated white to blend in with the ceiling. The outer edges are folded steel ensuring straight lines against a flat ceiling. Chameleon models include Powered Aire’s plenum discharge, a remote-control panel, and numerous motor and control options.


Commercial and low-profile cabinets can be hidden in a ceiling with the addition of a nozzle extension. Powered Aire offers custom fabricated nozzle extensions made from either 304 stainless-steel or galvanized steel. It is important to note that a return grill will need to be installed nearby for access to the air curtain. The air curtain discharge nozzle should also be installed away from the header wall. Measuring the distance from the top of the door to the ceiling and dividing it by 2 equals the distance the nozzle needs to be pulled away from the wall.


A door on one side of the building can have completely different needs than a door on the other side. This is why it’s important to work with an Air Curtain provider that can engineer each air curtain to your specific needs. It’s important to consider a few key advantages when selecting an air curtain.

Oversized Openings?

No opening is too tall or wide. Powered Aire offers air curtains for openings up to 50’ in height and virtually any length. There is no need to piece air curtains together as Powered Aire can supply a single air curtain that operates on a single circuit and a single set of controls. This saves on time, installation costs and resources.

Single Point Power Connection and Custom Electric Heat

Powered Aire provides branch fusing on electrically heated units that combines the motors and heaters on a single electrical circuit. This reduces the number of circuits that need installed between the buildings electrical panel and the air curtain. For existing buildings with existing electrical panels, Powered Aire will make custom heaters that accommodate the standing breaker size.

Custom Hot Water & Steam Coils

All hydronic heating coils are made to spec. 2-way and 3-way control valves can also be supplied to further ensure customization.

Smart-Touch Controller

Powered Aire’s Smart-Touch Controller features complete functionality inside a convenient touch-screen interface.

Plenum Discharge

To provide the best possible seal, an air curtain needs to span the entire width of an opening and meet the ground with enough controlled airflow to achieve its intended results. What can’t be overlooked is how this airflow is discharged. Most air curtains feature dual-shaft motors with blowers attached to each side. When the blowers directly face the narrow discharge nozzle the resulting airstream is not uniform. Complete holes in airflow exist under the motors, under adjacent blowers, and near the ends of the unit. Powered Aire’s plenum discharge pressurizes a space within the air curtain cabinet creating an exceptionally uniform airstream.

Another added benefit to a plenum discharge is noise reduction. The noise created by an air curtain is not mechanical, it’s created by forcing high volumes of air through a narrow linear discharge nozzle. Powered Aire’s plenum discharge spreads this high-volume air out evenly along the discharge nozzle resulting in noise reduction of up to 3dBA per motor.

Powered Aire Plenum Design
Competitor Design

Applications of Architectural Air Curtains

Architectural air curtains can be used in a variety of applications, including:

Retail Stores

Air curtains can help to keep retail stores cool in the summer and warm in the winter. They can also help to prevent dust and other contaminants from entering the store.

Boutique Shops

From small boutiques to major chains, architectural air curtains provide all of the air curtain benefits but do not detract from the store’s ambiance and atmosphere.


Air curtains can help to keep restaurants comfortable and prevent insects from entering. They can also help to reduce the risk of cross-contamination.

Office Buildings

Air curtains can help to keep office buildings comfortable and prevent drafts. They can also help to reduce the amount of energy that is used to heat and cool the building.

Benefits of Using Architectural Air Curtains

There are many benefits to using architectural air curtains, including:

Performance & Aesthetics

Architectural air curtains provide numerous benefits while matching a building’s interior design and aesthetics.

Reduce Energy Costs

Air curtains can help to reduce energy costs by preventing hot or cold air from escaping. This can save businesses and other organizations a significant amount of money on their energy bills.

Improve Indoor Air Quality

Air curtains can help to improve indoor air quality by preventing dust and other contaminants from entering. This can help to reduce the risk of allergies and other respiratory problems.

Prevent Drafts

Air curtains can help to prevent drafts, which can make people feel cold and uncomfortable. This can be especially important in businesses that have a lot of foot traffic.

Keep Insects Out

Air curtains can help to keep insects out, which can help to reduce the risk of food contamination and other problems.

Increase Customer Comfort

Air curtains can help to increase customer comfort by preventing drafts and keeping the air inside the building comfortable. This can lead to increased customer satisfaction and repeat business.

What to Consider when Specifying an Architectural Air Curtain

Here are some considerations for installing architectural air curtains:

Doorway Dimensions

The width and height of the doorway will dictate which air curtain is best suited for the door. For example, a higher door opening will require more power to reach the floor with an effective velocity. A door that's wider will require more motors and fans to span the entire width of the door opening.

Airflow Rate

Airflow rate and uniformity are critical as dead spots where no air is covering the opening will serve as an invitation for outside elements to penetrate the envelope of the building. Air curtains with a pressurized plenum provide the best discharge and most effectively protect against outside infiltration due to the uniformity of the air stream.

Heat and Supplemental Heat

Building entrances in cold climates typically require heated air curtains to maintain temperature near high traffic doors or to make up for the lack of overall heating capacity near the opening. Adding heat to an air curtain provides immediate comfort and climate control to building entryways and vestibules.

Noise Levels

Operating noise can be a literal headache. However, moving large amounts of air at a velocity fast enough to stop infiltration can’t be done in complete silence. To reduce air curtain noise, consider a plenum style discharge nozzle where turbulent air isn't forced directly through a narrow nozzle. Also consider an in-ceiling model where the air curtain is further away from the entryway and insulated by the ceiling.

Return on Investment

The key benefit of an air curtain is its ability to reduce overall building costs to an extent that, within a few years, the Air Curtain will have paid for itself through energy savings. The savings are realized through the air curtain’s ability to prevent outside from entering, which would otherwise need to be heated or cooled by the building’s HVAC system.


Integrating an air curtain into any given application requires thorough consideration for how it will operate. Typically, an air curtain is interlocked with the door it's protecting. Additional functionality and automation are offered through BMS tie-in and stand-alone factory controllers.

Where to Buy Architectural Air Curtains

Architectural air curtains can be purchased from Powered Aire in Greenville, PA 16125
or one of its many representatives.

Need to find your local representative?
Reach out to us at: 1-888-321-AIRE (2473)

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Architectural Air Curtains

If you are interested in learning more about architectural air curtains, please contact us for a free quote. We would be happy to help you choose the right air curtain for your needs.