We’re living in an unprecedented time of technological growth. From new methods of working to technologies designed to keep us healthy, every area of our lives has been impacted. One technology that has benefitted from these advances is air filtration.
Today, consumers have quite a few technologies available for air filtration. In the age of COVID, air filtration has become important, helping to keep us safe and healthy. Unfortunately, not every technology available is equally effective, and some are not suitable for residential use.
In this post, we’re going to examine the pros and cons of five types of air cleaning technologies that are currently being used in consumer-grade air purifiers.
To choose the right air purification technology, you need to have a basic understanding of the two types of indoor air pollutants: Particulates and Gaseous.
Also known as Particulate Matters (PM), they are categorized by their sizes, for example, PM1, PM 2.5, and PM 10. Pollen, dust, smoke residue, mold spores, airborne viruses, and bacteria all fall into this category.
There are many gaseous pollutants. Some common ones include carbon monoxide, sulfur dioxide, ozone, nitrogen dioxide, radon, formaldehyde, and volatile organic compounds or VOCs.
Typically, most indoor air pollution is a combination of these two types. Any filtration method you consider should be able to address your specific needs. For example, mold spores may be more common in areas that have higher humidity like the south, while radon is present in areas of the country with high concentrations of granite, like New England.
There are two major categories of air filtration: mechanical and electronic.
Mechanical filtration methods are effective and safe, while electronic filtration methods are safe but generally less efficient.
The best performing systems use more than one technology and HEPA filtration seems to be the key to optimal results. Without the inclusion of HEPA air filters, the symptoms of particulate pollution, like asthma and allergies, are not reduced. The right air purifying system assists your HVAC system and improves your indoor air quality by removing particulates and gasses.
What follows is a breakdown of the five most common technologies available for air filtration today.
The most common type of filter, or air cleaner, is made of fiberglass, foam, cotton, or other particle-trapping materials. Basic filters work in a basic way – air passes through the filter, either through your home’s HVAC system or a free-standing model. The particulate materials get trapped in the filter.
To keep your system operating efficiently, you must change the filters every month or two. To determine the strength of your system, check its MERV rating. The higher the MERV rating, the more efficient the filter. HEPA filters are the most efficient in this category.
Ionizers and ozone generators produce different molecules, but they work in a similar way. They produce charged particles. Normal particulates in the air have a neutral charge so when they come in contact with either ions or ozone, they end up with a charge too. This causes them to stick to surfaces.
Some people with respiratory problems may find their lungs are irritated by ozone. If you notice this, switch to a different system.
Like the previous systems, electrostatic systems charge particles in the air. After they are charged. This type of air purifier filters them out, collecting them within the machine. Most models can be cleaned by removing the plates and washing them before reusing them.
Electrostatic filters also produce ozone so, be aware!
Activated charcoal is typically used along with another type of system. The porous carbon traps odors and gasses that pass through, removing them from the air. Some can tackle stronger pollutants like VOCs. Activated carbon filtration will also trap and remove larger particulates. If your current filtration system is not handling odors, consider adding an activated carbon filter component.
UV light has the power to kill microbes and sometimes viruses. You can retrofit UV lights into your existing HVAC system. Install one over the coil where mold tends to grow. Install another near the air handler to purify the air before it enters your home.
Air purification is important for keeping your home and family healthy. Sometimes it makes sense to combine different systems, like HEPA filtration with UV light to create a comprehensive system for dealing with organic and inorganic pollutants. Sometimes, improving your air purification can be as simple as changing the type of filter you are using.
The best option is to speak with a professional. Have them look at your current system in order to help you chart the best course of action.