Rectangular To Round Duct Transformation (Formula + Chart)

If you want to replace rectangular ducts with round ducts, you will have to use the rectangular to round duct transformation formula. This formula determines the needed round duct diameter you need to match the rectangular duct airflow.

In HVAC, this is known as equivalent diameter. You will need a sufficient diameter of round ducts to keep the same CFM airflow running through the ducts.

Example: Let’s say you currently have a 6×7 inch rectangular duct that can handle 200 CFM airflow. What size round duct do you need to replace the 6×7 inch rectangular duct? Using the rectangular to round duct transformation formula will tell you that you need a 7.1-inch round diameter duct. This round duct size can handle 200 CFM airflow.

First, let’s look at the formula that translates rectangular duct size to round duct size. We will also look at a square to round duct transformation formula.

replacing rectangular ducts with round ducts
An HVAC installer replacing rectangular ducts with equivalent diameter round ducts.

The easiest way to do this transformation is to consult the pre-calculated rectangular to round duct chart that tells you what size round ducts have an equivalent diameter to different rectangular duct sizes (with CFMs included):

Rectangular To Round Duct Transformation Formula

To determine the size of round duct you need to replace rectangular ducts, we have to account for two factors:

  • Primary factor: Cross-section area of rectangular and round ducts. That simply means the area of the round duct through which the air is going to flow should match the area that was available in the case of rectangular ducts. This gives us a very good approximation of round duct diameter (below 10% deviation).
  • Secondary factor: Ducts friction loss. To calculate the size of the round duct precisely, we need to take into account ducts friction loss. Due to different shapes of ducts, the friction fast-moving air makes with the duct, is different. This is not an overly significant factor and can be omitted (especially with low-CFM ducts).

Here is a visual representation of the cross-section of rectangular and round ducts:

rectangular to round ducts transformation

To transform the area (A) of a rectangular duct to the area of round duct (circle A), we have to use this equation:

a × b = π × r2 and r = d/2

If we do little math on this equation and express d (equivalent diameter of the round duct), we get rectangular to round duct transformation formula:

rectangle to round area equation

That means that the equivalent diameter of a round duct is calculated as a square root of the length of rectangular duct (b) multiplied by the width of rectangular duct (a) and multiplied by a factor of 4 and divided by π (3.14). This is quite a mouthful.

Note: In the case of converting square to round ducts, both a and b are the same. Example 8×8-inch square duct has a length of 8-inches (a) and a width of 8-inches (b).

Here is an example of how you can use this formula (it’s not all that complicated). Let’s use our example from above (6×7 inch rectangular duct with 200 CFM airflow) and calculate the equivalent diameter of the round duct like this:

d = √((4×6-inches×7-inches)/π) = 7.31 inches

Now, from the chart below we see that the actual result should be 7.1 inches, not 7.31 inches. Have we calculated wrong? No. We have only accounted for the primary cross-section factor. That means we made an approximation with 3% deviance from the actual result (hence below 10% deviance).

To get the 7.1 inches, we have to account for the secondary duct friction loss as well. Here is the formula for calculating the friction loss in galvanized steel circular ducts with the turbulent flow:

Friction Loss Per 100 Ft = 0.109136 × q1.9 / d5.02

This is quite a complicated formula. q stands for airflow (measured in CFM) and d is the equivalent diameter.

Accounting for the friction loss is extremely complex. You have to account for Reynolds number (laminar vs. transient vs. turbulent flow), length of the ducts, the shape of the ducts, duct material, and so on.

The easiest way to account for the friction loss between rectangular and round ducts is to consult the pre-calculated values (chart, if you will).

Here is this chart from 80 CFM to 2,000 CFM airflow:

Rectangular To Round Duct Chart

Duct Airflow (CFM): Rectangular Duct Size (Inches): Round Duct Size (Inches):
80 CFM 3 x 7, 4 x 5 4.9 Inch Diameter
100 CFM 4 x 6 5.33 Inch Diameter
120 CFM 4 x 7, 5 x 6 5.7, 6.0 Inch Diameter
140 CFM 4 x 8 6.09 Inch Diameter
150 CFM 3.5 x 10 6.26 Inch Diameter
160 CFM 4 x 9, 5 x 7, 6 x 6 6.4 Inch Diameter
180 CFM 4 x 10 6.74 Inch Diameter
200 CFM 6 x 7 7.1 Inch Diameter
230 CFM 4 x 12 7.31 Inch Diameter
250 CFM 6 x 8 7.55 Inch Diameter
270 CFM 4 x 14 7.81 Inch Diameter
300 CFM 5 x 12, 6 x 10, 7 x 8 8.3 Inch Diameter
400 CFM 7 x 10, 8 x 9 9.1 Inch Diameter
480 CFM 8 x 10, 9 x 9 9.8 Inch Diameter
600 CFM 8 x 12, 10 x 10 10.8 Inch Diameter
750 CFM 8 x 14, 9 x 12, 10 x 11 11.5 Inch Diameter
800 CFM 8 x 15, 10 x 12 11.8 Inch Diameter
1,000 CFM 10 x 14, 12 x 12 13.0 Inch Diameter
2,000 CFM 10 x 25, 12 x 20, 15 x 16 16.9 Inch Diameter

With this chart, you can adequately replace existing rectangular (or squared) ducts with appropriately sized round ducts.

Example: Let’s say that you have 10×10-inch square ducts that allow for 600 CFM. What size round ducts should you replace it with?

Just check the chart above and you see that the equivalent diameter for a 10×10-inch rectangular duct is a 10.8-inch round duct.

In such a way, you can confidently replace any rectangular duct with a round duct. We hope this helps you make your decision and calculations easier.

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