Another integral part of an AC system is an air filter. Well, you might argue that they air filters are not really as essential as the most integral parts of an AC system are, such as the compressor, condenser, evaporator, refrigerant, ducts, and even the thermostat. But for everyone who lives in the city or in fact, any place with questionable air quality, air filters also serve a very important purpose. They have the difficult task of removing impurities from the air that goes through your AC system. Thus, having the right air filter can have a dramatic impact on the air quality your AC system provides.
You might also argue that air filters are a money-saving factor in your AC system, because if they do they functions properly, then there really isn’t an urgent need to invest in another system for air purification. As you may have heard, air purifier systems have also become very popular in the market, but they are also quite expensive. So, if you don’t have a lot of funds to buy a air purifier system (which includes having to spend for the unit and the change in filters that should be done regularly), knowing your built-in air filter options is very practical.
Flat Panel Fiberglass Filters
If there is such a thing as an entry-level filter, then flat panel fiberglass panels would take that title. They are filters that most people would be familiar with as they are the most used and they are the most affordable. As their name implies, this kind of air filter is made of layered fiberglass which acts as the filtering media, and a metal grate that reinforces the filter’s structure. Though they are the most accessible, flat-panel fiberglass filters also present disadvantages such as a low Minimum Efficiency Reporting Value (MERV) rating, which means it is not the most efficient filter in the market, with its effectiveness only high in filtering large particles like hair and carpet fibers.
The biggest advantage of using fiberglass air filters is that they are inexpensive when compared to more advanced filters like pleated filters or whole house air cleaners. You can typically buy an individual fiberglass filter for under $3, and you can find them at almost any department, grocery or large retail store.
Reusable Air Filters
There are reusable air filters that typically have the same MERV rating as flat panel filters but cost more because they can be re-used. As with the first type named above, reusable air filters are effective in trapping carpet fibers and hairs, but fine dust and dander may not be removed from the air. When washing these air filters for reuse, they need to be completely dried, or any remaining moisture in them may encourage the growth of mildew and mold.
Even if you do buy a pair of reusable filters for every register in your home, it will still cost you much less than purchasing a new filter every six weeks or so. The payback time on reusable filters is relatively short, so you should make back the money you put down in less than a year.
Pleated Media Filters
Most HVAC manufacturers have recommended MERV ratings, and these ratings are usually satisfied by the second type of air filter, the pleated media filter. While flat-panel fiberglass filters have a flat sheet, the pleated media variety features, as implied by the name pleated filter media. Pleated media equates to better filtration as more particles get filtered by the pleated materials. They are definitely more costly than flat panel fiberglass ones but are more recommended since they present a good balance between efficiency and cost.
Pleated filters are simply filters that have been folded to make them look like an accordion. This design increases the surface area of your filter, which allows it to catch that much more dirt, dust, and allergens. The wider space also allows for less frequent filter changes, because – with more material – they take longer to clog.
Compared to flat panel fiberglass and pleated media variety, high-efficiency particulate air (HEPA) filters are definitely above the rest in MERV ratings. Various federal health authorities, including the Environmental Protection Agency, claim that HEPA filters have the capacity to filter particles as small as 0.3 microns, which means even tobacco smoke and bacteria can be stopped on their tracks by HEPA filters. However, it should be noted that HEPA filters may not filter the COVID-19 virus, which measures 0.124 microns, although if the virus is enclosed in respiratory droplets (e.g., a sneeze) that usually measure more than 0.3 microns, then HEPA filters may trap and remove them.
HEPA filters are the standard filtration system in medical settings, such as hospitals and clinics. This is mainly because air filters with higher efficiency remove not only inorganic dust suspended in the air but also microscopic organisms that may cause serious harm.
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