Air curtains (or air doors) are specialized HVAC devices that separate conditioned air and unconditioned air. Additionally, they prevent insects, flies, smoke, and dust to come through the door.
We can all agree that running an air conditioner is pretty much useless if we have an open door, right? All the cool air will just escape out and the hot summer air will enter the room. It would be a waste.
That’s why we close the doors and windows when turning the AC on. But what if we need to have that door open?
Take a restaurant for example. The AC inside is working great but every time a new customer opens the door, the conditioned cool air leaves the restaurant. Hot air, flies, mosquitoes, dust and smoke enter the restaurant.
The purpose of installing the air curtain over the door is to create an invisible but effective barrier to keep the inside air cold and clean. In short, it protects the work already done by the air conditioner:
The vertically moving air will stop hot/cold outside air to enter as well as protect us from smoke, dust, fumes and insects.
Before we look at the best air curtains for home and for industrial use, let’s go over a quick buyer’s guide:
Air Curtain Buyer’s Guide
Before you start comparing different air doors, you really need to know just one thing:
How wide should your air curtain be?
Most of the producers offer the standard 36-inch air curtains for home. These are most popular as residential air doors. Wider models (they go up to 72”) are more appropriate for commercial use.
Here’s a trick question: What’s the difference between a residential and commercial air door?
Specs-wise there is literally no difference. The only difference is that commercial air conditioning doorway curtains are wider than the residential ones because restaurant or shop doors are usually wider than your door at home.
4 Factors To Check Before Buying Air Doors
All air curtains will do the job of keeping the conditioned air in quite well. Nonetheless, there are some that will be brilliant at doing that, look great and will spend less energy than others.
The 4 key specs to check when looking at any air curtain are:
- Airflow (the most important spec by far). Higher airflow is preferred to ensure not even the most powerfully-winged flies enter the area. These are also the most efficient at high temperature difference between indoors and outdoors. Anything above 800 CFM (cubic meters of air per hour) is considered a very good airflow rate.
- Noise levels. Obviously, we want the air door to be completely noticeable. The quiet (below 55 dB) units are preferred.
- Power. Be sure to check what the wattage is. The more powerful (above 300W) air curtains will do a better job but the electricity bill will be higher as well.
- Available width. If you have 48” wide doors and the offered air curtain is 36” wide, you have yourself a problem (about 12” wide, in fact). Always check if you can get a wide-enough model.
With these things in mind, we can look at a list of the best air curtains currently on the market:
Comparison Of The Top 5 Air Curtains
#1 Awoco FM3509L/Y-M – Best Overall Specs And Several Available Widths
Awoco is the No. 1 brand when it comes to air curtains. Awoco is inspired by German electrical and HVAC engineering. They have the widest range of exceptionally well engineer models available. The best FM3509L/Y-M models range from 36″ residential air curtains to the broad 72” commercial air curtains.
What really matters, however, are the specs. Awoco has managed to create a high airflow curtain with very low noise levels. On high setting, the airflow is 907 CFM with a quiet 52 dB noise levels. That both makes it one of the most powerful and, at the same time, one of the quietest air curtains.
What is not insignificant is also the lower-than-average energy use. The powerful Awoco motor managed to create 907 CFM airflow with just 300W of power. That’s quite an impressive achievement; having a high-efficiency well-oiled motor also explains why the FM3509L/Y-M model is so quiet.
With the magnetic door switch (comes included in the package), you can DIY Awoco air curtain installation or just make the installation easier for the installer:
The high setting is most appropriate for hottest (or coldest) days. However, you can additionally preserve energy while still getting a 742 CFM airflow just by switching to the low setting.
Awoco is very installer-friendly. It comes with a special magnetic switch which makes installation so easy pretty much everybody with a tool-box can do it. You can get it in following widths: 36”, 42”, 48”, 60” or 72”.
Keeping true to the German engineering standard, the Awoco will run for 5,000 hours non-stop without a problem. The motor is very reliable, the fan wheels are even made out of high-tech ABS material. In short, this is a very meticulously engineered, specs-powerful and simple to use air curtain that well deserves the No. 1 spots.
#2 DuraSteel Aerial Titan-1 – The Most Powerful Commercial Air Curtain
DuraSteel Aerial Titan-1 has a reputation of, well, being the Titan that it is. It is the single most powerful industrial air curtain that can exceed 1000 CFM airflow at a remarkable air velocity of 3150 FPM (feet per minute).
The power itself positions it as the best industrial air curtain. It’s exceptionally needed in places where keeping the air clear and conditioned is vital. Meat processing, laboratories, kitchens, freezers are only some examples of its use.
According to ASHRAE (American Society of Heating, Refrigerating and Air-Conditioning Engineers) “air curtain effectiveness in preventing infiltration through an entrance generally ranges from 60 to 80%“. When working in let’s say a clean kitchen, you really want to keep that number close or even beyond 80% because no customer wants to see a fly in their soup.
Titan-1 achieves that by sheer airflow power alone. The incredible 1177 CFM airflow might be an overkill for a home but it’s exactly what’s needed to keep a clean kitchen, well, clean. No fly or insect will be able to withstand that airflow.
There is only one drawback but it’s a big one: DuraSteel Aerial Titan-1 is as loud as it is powerful. At a low-setting it will achieve noise levels of up to 65 dB and on the high-setting it will hit 69 dB. That’s a pretty high noise level for an HVAC device.
Obviously, all that airflow and power does produce quite a lot of noise. That’s why the Titan-1 is a preferable pick for commercial use where the environment is already loud. Imagine a kitchen full of chefs and waiters calling orders or a woodshop. Having a 69 dB air door won’t bother them one bit. Don’t put it over the doors of a jazz club though.
All in all, the Titan-1 is an industrial beast that is best at keeping places clean and well conditioned. It is available in 36”, 40” or 48” widths.
#3 Global Industrial FM-1209-2 – Best-Rated By Customers
Global Industrial FM-1209-2 is a simple air curtain with great specs and an affordable price. It’s not hard to see why the trio of simple, affordable, great-specs is popular with the customers.
In fact, the Global Industrial FM-1209-2 is the best-rated air door on Amazon with the 4.9/5 rating. Most of the people are praising how well it can keep the flies out.
It has two settings: the high setting with 815 CFM airflow and the low setting with 670 CFM airflow. This is not the most powerful air curtain airflow but it’s what most people who own a bar or want to install it in their home need.
The remote control is a nice addition. Obviously, you have only 3 settings to choose from (HI/LOW/OFF) but using the remote control is just a bit more convenient pulling out a ladder and doing it manually.
It has an average energy consumption for an air conditioning doorway curtain and medium-to-low noise levels (maximum is 56 dB).
Simple, easy to operate with remote control, great specs and, as you’ll see, an affordable price. The FM-1209-2 is a nice and solid pick for people who like to own no-fuss HVAC devices.
#4 Strongway B072DY5T7L – The Cheapest Air Curtain For Less Than $200
Strongway is the cheap way. Their B072DY5T7L model is capable of producing an above 800 CFM airflow (which is exactly what most of us need) and costs less than $200.
You can mount it up 8 feet above the door, it has 2 settings and an OFF switch (HI/LOW/OFF). It’s every bit as useful as the costlier models for keeping flies, insects and smoke out.
Of course, it doesn’t have record-breaking specs but if you’re looking for a quick and cost-effective way to create an air curtain between the indoors and outdoors, the Strongway is a way to go.
Just the fact that it weighs 34 pounds can tell you something about the reliability. Of course, with cheap HVAC devices the reliability needs to be addressed. The higher-than-average weight, however, is reassuring. Heavier device usually translated to high-quality materials.
One truly bad thing, however, is that the Strongway B072DY5T7L is powered by a 345W motor. That means that the electricity costs will be higher than average. For example, the #1 pick – Awoco FM3509L/Y-M – can produce an airflow of 907 CFM with just 300W. The Strongway, by comparison, produces 816 CFM with 345W.
Being not as energy-efficient does mean you might be paying more than you would want just because of the higher electricity bill. Right now, yes, the air curtain may cost less than $200 but the lower-than-average energy-efficiency can add $10 or even $20 to your yearly electricity bill. It’s definitely something to take into account when choosing the right air curtain.
#5 Maxwell MASF036-N1 – The Quietest Air Curtain On The Market
Last but not least is the Maxwell MASF036-N1. It’s not the strongest not the most powerful air curtain. However, it does have a certain quality that’s very important when it comes to choosing an air conditioning doorway curtain:
The sound of silence.
With the 49/52 dB noise levels, it’s the quietest air curtain and perfect for home use. If you don’t enjoy hearing a constant low noise, the Maxwell MASF036-N1 might even be the smartest choice for you. It’s as silent as a cat.
Nonetheless, we cannot go past the fact that is has a low airflow. In the high gear, the maximum airflow does reach 647 CFM. That is, however, about 200 CFM below the average. That’s is not ideal but it does explain why it can be so quiet. The blower has to blow out less air.
A great thing is that this air curtain for home is available in wider models as well. You can pick among 36”, 39”, 48” or 60” models. Especially the 60” is nice to have for balcony doors which are usually wider.
Do You Need An Advice For Your Situation?
If you didn’t find an appropriate air curtain on the list above, you are free to comment on your specific situation. It doesn’t matter if you’re looking for an industrial or residential air curtain, we’ll try to help you either way.
Hope this helps.