What are Air Curtains and How Do They Work?

What are Air Curtains and How Do They Work?

For businesses, efficiency and cost reductions are everything. Luckily, there are many commercial door solutions available that can help optimize the traffic flow of your business, reduce energy costs, and even improve your workflow. Air curtains are an example of one such option.

But what exactly is an air curtain, and how do they work? In this post, we’ll explain what air curtains are and how they function. We’ll also look at what they’re used for, their types, their pros and cons, and the types of businesses that can benefit them. Follow along and find out if air curtains are the commercial door solution for you!

An air curtain, also known as an air door, is a device installed at an entry or exit point of a building above the doorway. It pushes out a strong, continuous stream of air that acts as an invisible barrier for many unwanted things such as pests or outdoor temperatures. This barrier separates the inside from the outside without restricting the movement of people, machinery, or property.

The fundamentals behind them are quite simple. Most use some sort of fan or intake system to draw air from the immediate environment around them. Some models can also use heated or conditioned air. This air is then accelerated through a narrow outlet that forces the air across the door opening. This powerful burst of air creates a shield that effectively separates the interior and exterior.

Air curtains have a few key uses:

  1. Energy Efficiency: The barrier created by them helps keep the inside air and outside air separate, reducing the amount of temperature changes caused by opening and closing a door. This can help reduce heating and cooling costs year-round.
  2. Environmental Protection: This barrier isn’t just good for maintaining temperature. They can also help keep other things like dust, pests, pollutants, or insects from entering a building.
  3. Comfort: For client-facing businesses like restaurants or retail stores, they help keep business interiors comfortable by preventing temperature changes from opening and closing doors.

Air curtains come in various designs and configurations to suit different commercial door needs.

Heated air curtains release warm air and push your controlled temperature inside your building back inside. This makes them especially effective for maintaining internal temperatures in cooler months. They are great for saving on energy costs in the winter, keeping out pests, and keeping your building warm when it’s cold outside. They tend to be more expensive than traditional models, but they are very effective in the winter.

Non-heated models still have energy-efficiency capabilities, but they are better for keeping things like pests and dust out of your building. Instead of blasting out temperature-controlled air, these types pull air from their surrounding environment and push it out without any alterations. 

Recirculating air curtains Have both an intake and discharge grille that absorbs and recycles the air it uses to create the barrier. These curtains are unique in that they can be installed on the sides of a door, not just on top. Recirculating models can be more difficult to install, but they do output a denser barrier and save on energy because they recycle air.

These are the most common type of air curtains and are easy to spot in a variety of businesses. Non-circulating models are installed atop the door opening, and the blasts of air are directed at the floor. While their design is the most basic, it is tried-and-true and found in a variety of business types. They are less efficient than recirculating models, but they have a lower chance of damage and are much easier to install. They also tend to be cheaper to repair and run.

Here are the types of air curtains and their pros and cons.


  • More energy efficient in the winter months
  • Effective at keeping pests, dust, and insects out of your building
  • Helps maintain the internal temperature of your building during cold weather.


  • Can be more expensive to run due to the electricity needed for air heating
  • Can be more expensive to purchase and install


  • Keeps pests and dust out of your building
  • Less expensive than other air curtain types


  • No temperature controls are available for maintaining building temperature
  • Some models are less powerful than others


  • Greater energy efficiency than other models
  • A more powerful and dense stream of air provides ultimate protection for your entryways
  • Can be installed horizontally or vertically


  • Can be more expensive and complicated to install
  • Repairs can be more costly than those of other models
  • Vertically installed models can be more prone to wear and tear


  • One of the most common and versatile models
  • Easy to install and repair
  • Less expensive to run, but still keeps dirt and pests out of your building


  • Can be less efficient than circulating models
  • Can only be installed horizontally, which may not work for all types of commercial doors

Air curtains are very popular in a variety of business types. Here are a few use cases and business types for them:

  1. Retail Stores: From automatic to glass-aluminum doors, small businesses to large department stores, they are great for managing entrances and exits with heavy traffic flow. They can help maintain the internal temperature of your building and keep pests like flies or other insects out of your store.
  2. Restaurants: Keeping your environment comfortable for your guests is essential, and air curtains can help with this! They can help keep your building clean by keeping out dust and bugs, and they also help prevent drafts from frequent opening and closing of your doors.
  3. Industrial Buildings: For protecting merchandise or maintaining a temperature-controlled environment, they are essential in many industrial spaces like garages and manufacturing facilities.
  4. Hospitals and Healthcare Facilities: Just like with other guest-facing (or in this case, patient-facing) establishments, comfort and cleanliness are essential. These help your building and staff maintain both.
  5. Offices: Heating and cooling can get expensive when your building is occupied by employees 40 hours out of the week. They can help alleviate heating and cooling costs by easing the strain on your A/C.

Air curtains are a staple in many industries as a commercial door accessory. They effectively keep out dust and pests, improve the energy efficiency of your building, and improve the temperance of your building by preventing drafts. If you’re looking to add the above to your building, an air curtain is the solution for you!
If you’re looking to get air curtains installed on your commercial building in Norman, Moore, Oklahoma City, Tulsa, or surrounding areas, give us a call at Commercial Door. We work on all types of commercial doors and their accessories across these areas. Our experienced team of technicians is ready to bring you the best service possible! Check out all of our commercial door services while you’re here, and reach out to us on our contact page to get started with us.