What is the difference between fabric ducts, air socks, and sox?

The simple answer is “nothing.” A sock is a ventilation duct created in fabric instead of sheet metal or pvc pipe. The technology is widely used across the globe, which means it’s a technology with many names.

In Europe, where the technology was first commercialized, it typically is known as fabric ducts, fabric air dispersion, or textile-based ducting. Whereas the same technology is known as air socks or simply socks in North America and textile channels across Europe.

Regardless of which expression is used, fabric ducts have unique technological characteristics that set the solutions apart from steel ducts, Spiro ducts and other HVAC ducts in sheet metal.

What are the advantages of fabric ducts?

The technological advantages of fabric ducts are many, the most prominent of which is the even and draft-free air distribution. The high levels of comfort and hygiene set fabric-based solutions apart from traditional metal HVAC solutions. It is easy to maintain and wash. The fabric used for air distribution systems is antimicrobial and can be flame retardant (depending on the fabric used). In addition, fabric-based solutions are designed to be lightweight, therefore, they are extremely easy to install without using heavy machinery.

What is the difference between metal and fabric ducts?

Fabric-based air distribution solutions have a lot of upsides if compared to conventional metal ducts. For example, condensation is a typical concern in HVAC ducting. However, fabric ducts do not have the same natural tendency to condensate as other HVAC ducts do. Permeable textiles prevent the formation of condensation on the ductwork, which is why fabric ducts do not require insulation.

Eliminating the need for insulation provides significant time savings on a project, which naturally also affects the price. The savings potential also includes materials and the transportation and storage of these during the building project. The efficient use of light-weight materials also means lower shipping costs. A textile-based ventilation solution fits into just a few boxes, rather than the truck loads of materials required to create a metal duct solution.

The hygienic nature of fabric ducts stems from the elimination of condensation, which in turn prevents bacteria, microbial growth and mold. Fabric ducts can be machine washed; some textile ducts can even be autoclaved. That cannot be done with conventional ventilation ducting.

Finally, fabric ductwork offers unique sound-technical properties, which means they are the better alternative in noise sensitive applications. FabricAir offers solutions ideal in libraries, auditoriums, and the like.

What materials are used to make fabric ducts?

Most of FabricAir’s ducts and other products are made of polyester, but they can also be created from glass fiber or HDPE, better known as high-density polyethylene. Then, depending on the need of the client or project regulations, various additional properties can be applied to the fabric.

What are the colors of fabric ducts?

Since each project is unique, FabricAir provides a variety of colors from its standard color palette to meet the needs of any design. Through FabricAir’s innovative printing technology fabric ducts (or Ceiling Diffusers) can be custom printed with logos, patterns or other visuals.

Are fabric ducts heavy?

No, fabric ducts are not heavy as they are designed to be lightweight. Their light weight results in cost efficiency for transportation and storage. In addition, it only takes a few people and no heavy machinery to install, plus it does not add much weight on the construction.

Can fabric ducts be customized?

Yes, fabric ducts can be customized as they are available in standard colors that can match the need of every project. Due to innovative printing technology, virtually any pattern one can imagine can be provided. Different colors, patterns, logos, or visuals can be printed for specific projects.

Can fabric ducts rust?

FabricAir ducts are ideal for corrosive environments, such as pools, salt rooms and workshops. Unlike metal ducts, polyester is not susceptible to the harsh chemicals found in swimming pools, anodizing facilities, etc. All exposed metal associated with the suspension system is either anodized aluminum, which has excellent anti-corrosion properties, or stainless steel.

Can fabric ducts condensate?

Fabric ducts do not have the same natural tendency toward sweating as other HVAC ducts do. Permeable textiles prevent the formation of condensation on the ductwork, which is why fabric ducting does not require insulation.

Are fabric ducts flame retardant?

One of the biggest concerns in construction is fire safety, which is typically addressed in national building codes. FabricAir offers a wide variety of ducts that are code compliant regardless of what continent you are on. Our products live up to a number of certifications, standards and national codes including USA (UL listed), Canada (ULC listed) and Europe (EN 13501-1 certified).

FabricAir ducts are evaluated and certified based on smoke and flame spread indexes. The flame spread index confirms that should the duct be subjected to flames it will not ignite, but rather smolder at an acceptable rate to allow occupants enough time to exit the building safely. The smoke spread index is the more important of the two, as smoke inhalation and consequent suffocation is the primary cause of fire related fatalities. This index confirms that our products generate a minimal amount of smoke while burning/smoldering, allowing the occupant to see and breathe on their way out of the building.

Are fabric ducts durable?

Yes, fabric ducts are extremely durable and have a proven long live span. Many projects are still operational since implemented when FabricAir was established in 1973. FabricAir ensures a 10-year manufacturer warranty for most of the products. There are some food processing plants that have been running the same fabric ducts for over 30 years.

What is the price of fabric air ducts?

The price difference between conventional ventilation ductwork and FabricAir dispersion solutions is significant. Fabric ducts are a cost-efficient solution due to the nature of the textile-based dispersion technology.

As with all ventilation systems the answer depends on the size of the project. Regardless, the savings potential is significant when compared to conventional HVAC ductwork solutions usually ranging from 30% to 70% when replacing metal with fabric ducts. This makes fabric-based HVAC solutions an unrivalled source of value engineering without compromising the indoor air quality.

How do you clean/maintain fabric ducts?

All fabric-based solutions are designed to be as easy to maintain as possible. They are lightweight, therefore, it is simple to install or detach them, machine wash and put them back on again without any heavy machinery or many man-hours.

As a leading fabric duct manufacturer, we are constantly looking for solutions that benefit contractors, engineers, and end-users and ensure the best possible air distribution without drafts or frequent maintenance.

Since 2010, we have been using laser technology to create both primary and secondary flow models from our fabric ducts. One of the advantages of this technology is that the
previously recommended washing intervals are no longer necessary for all installations.

However, some projects with high hygienic requirements, such as the food processing or pharmaceutical industries, still require fabric ducts to be washed regularly. We advise you to always observe and follow the hygienic requirements for each individual installation.

FabricAir ducts with the following flow models do not require regular washing from a technical point of view:
FabricAir® SonicFlow™
FabricAir® PerfoFlow™
FabricAir® OriFlow™
FabricAir® NozzFlow™
FabricAir® JetFlow™*

Ducts using exclusively FabricAir® FabFlow™ should be washed annually to reduce unnecessary pressure loss. Ducts using exclusively FabricAir® MicroFlow™ may see a slight accumulation of dust particles inside the duct over time. This does not cause a significant pressure loss but may lead to the desire/need to wash them. When using FabFlow or MicroFlow, adequate pre-filtering should be used.

Visit the Fabric Documentation page to learn more about Laundering and Maintenance for each fabric type.


*The recommendation is to use minimum class F7.

Where can I install fabric ducts?

Fabric-based solutions can be used anywhere that exposed ductwork is applicable. Fabric air dispersion solutions are made from fireproof materials, and all FabricAir textiles are UL certified. They can be used in various food, industrial, sport, pharmaceutical, retail or any other application. Some fabric-based solutions, like FabricAir Ceiling Diffusers, can be used in premises with suspended ceiling.

Is fabric duct installation fast?

Yes, fabric ducts can be installed up to four times faster compared to conventional solutions. FabricAir dispersion systems are intuitive and simple to install. Each duct section is marked with an individual tag, which indicates exactly where each piece should go. There are no trade specific tools required; everything you need can be found in a handy-man’s toolbox. Easy installation significantly reduces labor hours compared to metal ducts or other fabric duct systems. This helps to ensure that your project is built on time and within budget.

What is FabricAir PRO?

FabricAir PRO is a Revit Add-In tool developed by FabricAir to simplify the incorporation of fabric ducting into HVAC designs. It streamlines the design process, making it faster and more efficient.

Who should use FabricAir PRO?

FabricAir PRO enhances the capabilities of HVAC designers and engineers by allowing them to seamlessly integrate fabric ducting into their Revit designs. It expedites the quote generation process, facilitating faster project turnaround.

What level of technical expertise is required to use the add-in?

FabricAir PRO is designed to be user-friendly and accessible to HVAC designers with varying levels of Revit expertise. While it caters to skilled engineers, it serves as a valuable tool for incorporating fabric duct into their designs.

Is FabricAir PRO compatible with different versions of Revit?

Yes, FabricAir PRO is compatible with the current version of Revit and the three previous versions, ensuring flexibility for users.

Do I need administrator rights to install FabricAir PRO?

No, FabricAir PRO installation does not require administrator rights. The installation wizard runs without the need for additional privileges.

How much does FabricAir PRO cost?

FabricAir PRO is provided free of charge. Users are only requested to fill a simple registration form upon installation.

Can I design conventional ducts and call them "fabric" using FabricAir PRO?

FabricAir PRO provides specific design rules for fabric ducts. Designing with fabric has unique considerations, and FabricAir PRO ensures that the design aligns with fabric ductwork specifications for optimal performance.

Will other Revit users, who do not have FabricAir PRO, be able to open and view my Revit file correctly?

FabricAir PRO does not add custom objects to the project. All configurations are done within the standard Revit functionality, ensuring compatibility for all users.

What support is available for FabricAir PRO users?

FabricAir PRO is supported by a global network of fabric ducting experts ready to assist with any questions. Contact us for assistance.

Are there any dependencies or prerequisites for using the add-in?

FabricAir PRO operates seamlessly within the Revit environment. There are no specific dependencies or prerequisites. Users only need a compatible version of Revit to integrate FabricAir PRO into their design workflow.

How does the add-in integrate with the Revit software?

FabricAir PRO is an overlay application on top of Revit functionality. It simplifies the integration of fabric ducting into designs by providing a user-friendly interface that automatically sets configurations within the standard Revit environment. This ensures a smooth and intuitive interaction for users.

How is the add-in installed and managed within Revit?

FabricAir PRO can be easily installed using a straightforward installation wizard that runs without requiring administrator rights. Once installed, the add-in seamlessly integrates into the Revit environment, providing users with a hassle-free experience. Ongoing management involves regular updates to benefit from the latest features and improvements.

How does the add-in contribute to improving workflow or efficiency in Revit projects?

FabricAir PRO improves workflow and efficiency in the fabric duct design process. It allows HVAC engineers to seamlessly incorporate fabric ducts into their Revit designs, leading to reduced errors and an overall hassle-free experience. The tool ultimately contributes to more efficient and accurate project delivery.

For which applications can fabric ducts be used?

Back in 1973, fabric ducts were created for food processing plants and then evolved to be used in every possible application. FabricAir solutions are now used in food, sport, industrial, retail, comfort, pharmaceutical and grow applications in general. As every project is unique, it is quite possible that fabric-based solutions might be used for any application as long as it is implemented in accordance to local (by market) regulations.