Choosing Your Air Filter: Navigating The Confusing World Of Air
We all want to do everything we can to ensure that the air we
breathe in our homes and office environments is clean and healthy. Luckily,
there are now dozens of consumer products now on the market that work to filter
air and reduce the presence of indoor pollutants. These air cleaners may be
purchased as portable units that fit easily you're your living space, or in the
form of in-duct systems to be installed as part of your
HVAC system (the industry abbreviation
for your heating, ventilation and air conditioning system).
With such different types and so many products available for us to choose from,
how to decide which is best? Let's take a look at the basic categories of air
filtering devices and what each group offers:
HEPA stands for "high efficiency particulate air," and a HEPA
filter is basically a sieve that collects offensive particles so they won't
circulate in the air. HEPA filters are highly effective, trapping nearly one
hundred percent (99.97%) of pollutants down to a size of .3 microns (to give you
a sense of scale, a human hair is about 70 microns in diameter).
These filters are so good at cleaning air that they are often considered the
most efficient of all filtration units. But don't rush out to buy one yet-there
are a few important factors to consider. HEPA filters need to be replaced
frequently, which makes sense when you consider that they function by trapping
contaminants. Depending on the cost of filters and the frequency with which you
need to change your particular model, this can be an expensive choice. Moreover,
HEPA filters are good at cleaning the air within small spaces, but they are not
a home-wide solution. Of course you could place a filter in each room, but this
may not be practical.
Still, if you want a great bang for your buck, HEPA filters are a terrific
choice and very, very effective. Just keep the above considerations in mind when
choosing one (or several) portable filter units for your home.
These may also be called "media" filters. They are similar to
HEPA filters but are pleated, or folded, with the result that they are
substantially less effective. A pleated filter will trap as little as half the
particles as a HEPA filter, but it will do well with containing larger
particles. So, for example, if your main problem is dust, this may be a good
choice for you.
Whereas HEPA filters physically block and remove pollutants,
requiring replacement of filters, electrostatic or electronic cleaners work in a
slightly different way. These units contain electronically charged plates that
impart an ionic charge to floating air particles, causing them to be attracted
to the plates (remember high school science class?) and forced through what is
known as foam pre-filter.
You won't have replace the plates contained in these units, but you will have to
wash them periodically to clean them of debris and buildup. If you don't, you
run the risk of the particles getting re-re-released into the air. A clean and
well-maintained unit will keep down the amount of dust, mold, and bacteria in
your home environment.
Cleaners with Activated Carbon
Filter and electrostatic cleaners grab offending particles from
the air, but a different technology is needed in order to rid your living space
of odors and invisible chemical contaminants. That's where carbon comes into the
picture-some air cleaners are sold with mats of activated carbon, which pulls
these teeny molecules out of the air to keep it squeaky clean. Note that many
electronic filters do contain carbon filters.
A charcoal filter, or any air cleaning device that contains a
charcoal filter, can be very useful if you battle unwanted odors in your home
environment. This is because charcoal is a porous substance with a great
capacity for trapping gases with offensive smells. Charcoal, when used in a
filter, may be treated with chemicals in order to enhance its ability to
eliminate odors from the air.
Simply put, hybrid filters are filters that are combinations of
multiple types of air filters. For example, a popular type of hybrid filters
involves both an electronic charge, as described above, as well as a pleated
fabric to capture and collect particles in the air. This can be a good
all-around solution to your clean air concerns, but just be sure to keep the
filter itself clean, otherwise it won't function properly.
In making your decision, choose based on the amount of space you wish to treat,
as well as your largest areas of concern. For example, if you smoke or live in a
place where the air has been exposed to smoke, you may wish to use a filter that
removes odor as well as particles. If dust is your main concern, then a pleated
filter may do the job for you. Whatever you choose, you will be well on the way
to a healthier and happier home environment!
Understanding the differences between the kinds of
home air filters and purifiers is critical to improving the quality of your
indoor air quality. For more information please visit
If you are looking for a
Boulder County air conditioning contractor please call us today at 303-800-HEAT(4328) or complete our online service request form.
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