If you’ve got central heating or cooling in your home (which we hope you do if you’re in Texas!) then you are used to seeing the vents, grills and registers found throughout your house. But how do you know the difference in what’s what and which vent goes where?
We want to break it down for you so you can know what you’re looking at. It can come in handy for your own home projects, as well as describing problems to a trusted technician.
We’ll start with the broadest term first. A vent is the term used for all supply and return air sources to your heating or cooling system. All registers, grills, etc. are vent covers. Most homes also have other types of vents like the dryer vent, bathroom vent or kitchen vent above the stove, but we’re not talking about those types of vents when we refer to registers, grills and air vent covers. Just like all sedans, convertibles, coupes and hatchbacks are cars, but it’s the variances between these types that make all the difference.
The supply vent (meaning the vent from which the hot or cold air is coming into your home) of your HVAC system is covered by a register. A register has a damper and this is what sets it apart from other vent covers and grills. The damper is usually a lever or some other type of mechanism that allows you to open or close your register. This can help you manage the heat or coolness in a room, as well as redirect airflow.
Grills (also spelled grilles) are coverings on the return air vents of your HVAC system. Return vents do as their name suggests, they return air to your central heating or cooling system to condition it. Grills are very similar to registers except that they DO NOT have dampers. They have no method of opening or closing, rather they are fixed air vent covers that allow for proper airflow of the return air. In a good grill you are looking for the best airflow possible.
The key thing to remember is that the main difference between a grill and a register is whether or not the cover can open and close. In addition, the register is for supply air, while a grill is for return air.
Have any more questions about your heating or cooling system, the ductwork, vents, registers or grills? We love talking shop and are happy to help in any way we can!
Can return air grill be used in the ceiling instead of register for supply air? Thank you.
Been told by a HVAC Tech, I should consider replacing all my registers with registers that will maximize the air flow from my aid handler. Nor sure what’s the technical name for these registers and what I need to know to order & purchase them. Can you help me.
Thanks for your informative article above.
I have a central air conditioning system that was installed in about 1999 with the 1 exterior unit. …Is it safe to adjust the lever to a closed position on the ceiling register in a master bedroom where we prefer to have the least amount of air coming in? We have a family member in an adjoining bedroom who smokes. I had read that the registers should not be “closed off” since it can damage the system but I am not certain exactly what they mean by closing off.
This was a super helpful article, and whoever wrote this should write more articles on more subjects.