Why is Ventilation Important for Mechanical Equipment Screens?

Angled view of Mercury Economic Louvered screening panels made with gray vinyl posts and slats.

Mechanical equipment screens have become a major fixture in the architectural landscape over the last few years. Part of the reason for this is that more and more progressive communities throughout the nation require property managers to obscure certain mechanical items from public view. These items include HVACs, generators, transformers, and solar panels. While absolutely essential to your building’s upkeep—and the comfort of your employees and visiting clientele—these items often constitute an eyesore ruled against by ordinances. Property managers who fail to abide by these rules will often get struck by a hefty fine. Multiple fines potentially if you’re caught with several HVACs, transformers, etc. in plain view.

A mechanical equipment screen system is an aesthetically attractive solution. These products, custom-designed and fabricated here at PalmSHIELD, feature a simple picture frame design and options on infill—all of which can be powder coated in whatever colors are needed for the system to match the surrounding architecture. The frame is essential for strength and integrity, and the infill creates a uniform look for the system. PalmSHIELD, as we said, offers numerous infill choices. These include:

  • Louvered, our signature infill style, uses special slats which can be installed at specific angles, allowing a customized design dictating visibility and ventilation. A visually attractive means of obscuring items from view without compromising airflow.
  • Semi-Private infill consists of horizontal slats spaced slightly apart. Useful for allowing property owners to easily peek into an enclosure without compromising security.
  • Solid completely obscures everything within your enclosure from public view. Nothing—not even light and air—gets through. As we’ll discuss later, this isn’t always ideal when concealing mechanical equipment, but it’s the perfect solution when privacy (of the utmost degree) is warranted.
  • Staggered combines the privacy features of our Solid screens without sacrificing airflow. The planks are offset from one another in a stitching pattern.
  • Brick and Stone uses polymer—especially and professionally crafted and colored to resemble masonry. Choose from a broad variety of styles and pick the one that matches the exterior of your building.
  • Laser Cut combines a unique, decorative style with LED lights for a truly unique display. Using laser technology, we can pristine carve logos, patterns, etc. into your panel surface and place it behind material through which the LEDs show. The colors can be whatever you want, and they can alternate. All while concealing your equipment from public view!
  • Architectural Open provides optimum visibility and ventilation with its wire mesh infill. If obscuring items from view isn’t a priority—but basic security is—this could be your screen system of choice.
  • Trellis allows you to obscure items from view while boosting aesthetic appeal—with screens strewn with vegetation. Not the safest choice in areas prone to overheating, but very lovely in non-flammable areas.

So which infill is the right choice for you? As alluded to in the descriptions above, it depends on your specific needs and what type of fixtures you’re obscuring. Some of these screens aren’t ideal for equipment that exudes heat or exhaust. While solid screens are optimum for security, they’re not ideal for airflow. Sometimes you need a screening system that allows ventilation.

Why should I consider airflow when picking a mechanical equipment screen system?

Maintaining ventilation is an absolute must when enclosing mechanical equipment that features fans, vents, and pipes. These fixtures often emit hot air, exhaust fumes, etc., which can lead to potential health and safety hazards should the expelled contents become boxed in. Depending on what’s becoming trapped, the results can vary. One possible effect is increased air pollution (which jeopardizes the health of your employees and clientele). Trapped heat around your equipment could also lead to a fire hazard. Think also about the well-being of maintenance workers (whether on your payroll or third-party workers) when they step into the enclosure to repair the machines. Proper ventilation helps create a safer work environment for them.

For this reason, solid screening is not always the first choice. At the same time, your local codes might still require you to obscure certain items from view. With louvered or semi-private screening, you can conceal the items and the spacing between the louvers or slats still allow air, heat, and exhaust to escape. Here at PalmSHIELD, we can manufacture the panels so that the infill delivers the desired amount of visibility and ventilation. If intended to conceal rooftop equipment, we’ll design and fabricate the screens at the perfect angle to keep the items concealed from street view—but, again, without compromising airflow.