Reliable Heating & Cooling

What Are HVAC Registers? – A Homeowner’s Guide

Have you ever wondered, “What are HVAC registers, and how do they differ from vents?” Keep reading and learn everything you should know about HVAC registers, including the different types and how many you need in your HVAC system.

As Holland’s experienced HVAC contractor, Reliable Heating & Cooling is passionate about helping homes stay comfortable while saving money with energy-efficient HVAC systems. 

What Function Does a Register Serve?

HVAC registers help your ductwork deliver heated or cooled air throughout your home. The system contains two parts: the supply and the return. The supply registers deliver the hot and cold air to the rooms, whereas the return registers suck the air back into the device to have it heated or cooled again.

Without the return air registers, your home would build up pressure to an uncomfortable level. Registers work more efficiently to help control the flow of air so it’s evenly distributed throughout the home and clear of dust and allergens.

Types of HVAC Registers

Experts have different names for where your air ducts begin and end, depending on their function.


Vent is the broad term for all types of registers. Whether it is a return register or supply, has a grill or not, it can be rightly called a vent.


The term register refers to the cover over a supply vent. Its distinguishing feature is the damper it contains, which is a lever that allows you to open or close the register to better control airflow.


Grills cover the return vents and look almost like registers, except they don’t contain dampers. Grills remain open to allow maximum airflow to help equalize and maintain the pressure in your home.


These special supply vents push air into a room in multiple directions, improving circulation. They’re usually circular or square (as opposed to the rectangular shape of the other vents) and often contain concentric rings for multi-directional supply. Like registers, they have diffusers for adjusting the airflow.

The Benefits of HVAC Registers

Now that you know the answer to the question, “What are HVAC registers?” continue below to learn more about their benefits.

Increased Efficiency

The most energy-efficient HVAC systems rely on registers to control the flow of air, thus reducing resistance, moderating pressure, and adequately sensing the ambient temperature. This increases efficiency in the following ways:

  • Temperature sensing: With the right number of return vents, your air conditioner and heater more accurately and frequently sense the temperature in your home. Without a consistent temperature reading, the time between reaching your desired temperature and the device turning off becomes delayed. When your air conditioner or furnace runs less often, it saves money and increases the device’s life expectancy.
  • Reduce resistance: When you close a supply vent in your home, it increases the resistance on your entire system as the device has to work harder to push air into the room with the closed vent. The harder your system works, the less efficient it becomes. 
  • Moderate pressure: Without the right number of vents, your ductwork experiences increased pressure, which can damage your air ducts. When they develop holes, your ducts can’t adequately distribute the air, and your device has to work harder to keep your home comfortable.

With a well-designed system of return and supply vents, your air conditioner and furnace last as long as possible, saving you in the long run by reducing your utility bills.

Better Air Quality

Because they facilitate superior air circulation, your HVAC registers help improve the air quality in your home. Provided you dust your vents frequently, increased airflow helps purify the air by ensuring your air filters capture more of the particles in your home. If you have a UV light sanitation system, the more air passes through your ductwork, the purer it becomes.

HVAC registers also help your air conditioner and furnace heat each room of your home evenly, leading to more consistent comfort.

How To Customize Your Registers

You can replace your vents with other models that add style or increased functionality to your home. What are the most common ways to customize a register?

Decoration, Color, and Material

You can purchase vents with ornate styling or alternative coloring. If a white vent with horizontal slats feels boring, find one that’s gold with floral carvings or a black vent made of wood or plastic.

Location and Layout

While expensive, if your ductwork was poorly planned and needs improvement, you can modify the layout of your ductwork and venting for more efficient operation. Consider modifying your ductwork an investment, as an improved layout will save money over time on energy costs.


You can enhance your registers with the following options:

  • Register booster: If you have a large home, you likely have extensive ductwork that makes it difficult to evenly distribute air throughout every room. You can add a register booster fan to your vents, an electrical device that looks like a vent but contains two small fan blades. While it produces a little noise, it increases the speed and consistency of air moving through the vents.
  • Smart capability: Smart vents are programmable registers that open and close to restrict airflow depending on your pre-programmed settings. They frequently come with motion or proximity sensors that detect when a person is in the room and requires open vents. With proper calibration, they can help you control the temperature in each room of your home.

Contact Reliable Heating & Cooling for All Your HVAC Needs

Now that you know the answer to “What are HVAC registers?” you can help your home run at peak efficiency. Dedicated to five-star customer service and best-in-class products, Reliable Heating & Cooling is Holland’s first choice for heating and cooling solutions.

Whether you’re wondering about the best time to replace your HVAC or need a thermostat repaired, we do it all with expertise and quality service. To learn more about our services or to schedule an appointment, call us today at (616) 557-7872.