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Types of Ventilation Systems to Keep Buildings Breathing

A fan located on a ceiling, illustrating an article about types of ventilation systemsIf you build or work out of steel buildings, you’ve likely researched the best types of ventilation systems for your spaces. And if that’s the case, you’ve probably had questions. Is simple wind power enough to keep your building safe? Is powered ventilation an unnecessary expense? Do you need your louvers to be able to open? (On that note, what’s a louver?) At Metallic Products, our crew understands the sheer amount of information out there, and we want to make life easier. Here, we offer an overview of the types of ventilation systems you’re most likely to encounter.


Natural Ventilation
Natural ventilation, as you might recall, is a way of ventilating a space without the use of mechanical means such as power ventilators. By incorporating openings in strategic areas throughout a space in the form of louvers, ridge vents and similar ventilation accessories, you allow fresh, clean air to move into a space, while also ushering warm, stale air — as well as fumes — out.

  • Benefits: With few (if any) moving parts, this is a low-maintenance way to keep spaces healthy and comfortable. Meanwhile, the system’s ability to carry out its work without electrical components means you aren’t out additional electrical costs.
  • Setbacks: Because such systems rely heavily on wind movement, natural ventilation alone often isn’t enough for large-scale production facilities, agricultural operations and processes that generate extreme heat and fumes.


Mechanical Ventilation
Mechanical ventilation, as we’ve touched on in the past, is a means of helping a building breathe with metal building accessories such as industrial roof-mounted fans or wall-mount fans. These accessories are typically connected through a system of ducts and pipes, refreshing a space by moving air through — and moving heat, fumes and the like out.

  • Benefits: The powered nature of these ventilation accessories give them a little extra “oomph”. They have the ability to keep large industrial spaces and agricultural operations free of unwanted heat, fumes, odors and the like. In addition, because such systems are easy to turn on and off, and to adjust throughout the day, they also provide better overall air control.
  • Setbacks: Mechanical ventilation accessories run on electricity, which means additional power charges will factor into the mix. With a larger amount of moving components, there’s a higher likelihood of repair and replacement work, too.


Hybrid Ventilation
Hybrid ventilation, as you’ve likely guessed, is an air system comprised of a mix of mechanical and natural components. Also known as “mixed mode ventilation”, it involves fresh air coming into a space through an apex vent, turbine vent or similar ventilation tool, while removing warm, stale or contaminated with help of components such as exhaust fans.

  • Benefits: This is an extremely effective means of ventilation for areas where healthy air quality is crucial, such as operations that involve chemicals and fumes, or medical facilities with vulnerable populations.
  • Setbacks: Mixed mode ventilation requires careful calculations in order to ensure you have adequate airflow inside the space, and that contaminated air is being discharged somewhere where it won’t cause problems. Of course, the same issues that impact mechanical systems carry some weight here. You will incur certain electricity costs, and moving parts could require repairs and replacement work down the line.


Spot Ventilation
Spot ventilation is a means of keeping air clean and healthy, but on a smaller, more targeted scale. It serves as something of an add-on to your overall ventilation efforts, removing excess heat, humidity and the like in areas where they’re most prevalent. (Think of it like the exhaust fan over your home’s stove.)

  • Benefits: Spot ventilation keeps specific areas of your structure healthier and more comfortable, and supports your ventilation system as a whole. And when your system doesn’t have to work so hard, it tends to last longer and require less maintenance.
  • Setbacks: Spot ventilation is meant to work in tandem with existing systems, rather than by itself. In addition, repair, maintenance and electrical costs can factor into things, depending on your specific system.


The ventilation world can be a fascinating — and complex — thing, but having the right steel building accessories can make a real difference. If you’re interested in learning more about how Metallic Products can aid in your airflow needs, consider reaching out to our team. And if you’re interested in digging deeper into the world of ventilation concepts and the types of ventilation systems out there? We’ve got some great blog posts that touch on the chimney effect, the wind effect and even the differences between passive and mechanical ventilation. Stop by and read up!