Looking to upgrade your air filters? You can breathe easy with help from Service Experts Heating & Air Conditioning, your resident HVAC specialist in Livermore. While there are a variety of types of air filters to choose from, installing electrostatic air filters is a simple way to enhance indoor air quality.
What Is an Electrostatic Air Filter
Like other air filters, the purpose of an electrostatic air filter is to clean the air flowing through your home, reducing the amount of allergens and pollutants that circulate within your home while also protecting your HVAC system from harmful debris. Unlike other air filters, however, electrostatic air filters use electromagnetism to capture particulates from the air.
Think of electrostatic air filters like magnets. At each end of a magnet, there are two different poles. If you've ever tried to push two like poles together, you'd notice that they repel each other. Likewise, when two opposing poles become close, they attract one another.
Electrostatic air filters work like dust magnets, using static electricity to attract dirty air and ensure it sticks to the filter. Coarse fibers of the filter are electrostatically charged and gather particles over time. As more particles collect, the filter's effectiveness diminishes, but a thorough cleaning can alleviate that issue. When washed and maintained regularly, these filters can last indefinitely.
Air Filter Effectiveness
Filter effectiveness is judged on the minimum efficiency reporting value (MERV) rating developed by the American Society of Heating, Refrigerating and Air-Conditioning Engineers (ASHRAE). This rating is determined by the size of particulates a filter can block. MERV ratings can range from 1-20, with lower ratings being less effective than higher ratings. In addition, it’s important to note that as the rating goes up, the harder an HVAC system has to work to push air through the filter. Most residential air filters are rated somewhere around 1-12, with filters rated 13 or higher considered hospital-grade since they might require a specific HVAC system.
Regular vs Electrostatic Air Filters
The most common air filters are made of pleated media housed in disposable cardboard frames. These filters are considered mechanical because they physically stop pollutants from entering your home, unlike electrostatic air filters which depend mainly on static electricity to trap particles. In general, these filters have MERV ratings between 1 and 4, meaning they can manage large debris easily but struggle at filtering smaller allergens and pollutants. Unfortunately, these air filters must be replaced every 30-60 days and the cost of replacement filters can add up quickly.
By comparison, electrostatic filters typically have MERV ratings of between 8-10 and are more effective at removing particles from the air than regular disposable air filters. These filters do a great job of protecting your HVAC system from large debris and can improve indoor air quality. Unlike disposable air filters, permanent electrostatic air filters are reusable after washing—saving you money in the long run.
HEPA Filters vs Electrostatic Air Filters
High-Efficiency Particulate Air (HEPA) filters have a MERV rating of between 17 to 20 and can filter out up to 99.97% of airborne contaminants. HEPA filters are highly efficient at improving indoor air quality and can even filter out harmful pathogens. Frequently used in hospitals, HEPA filters are less likely to be installed in residential settings because of their cost, but can drastically improve your quality of life if you suffer from allergies or have respiratory problems.
While less effective than HEPA filters, electrostatic filters still do a fantastic job of filtering the air and protecting you from harmful contaminants. Because they’re reusable, the cost savings earned from installing permanent electrostatic air filters can be useful, especially if you’re not sensitive to the airborne particles that HEPA filters block.
Pros & Cons of Electrostatic Air Filters
- Above-Average Filtration: Electrostatic air filters are better at filtering airborne particles than regular disposable air filters.
- Cost-Effective: Washable air filters have a higher initial cost than regular disposable air filters but recoup the cost soon since you never have to replace them.
- Highly Efficient: These filters are effective at filtering most harmful contaminants from the air without making your HVAC system work overtime to push air through a thick filter.
- Monthly Maintenance: To sustain their effectiveness, these filters must be thoroughly cleaned monthly.
- Less Effective for Asthma and Allergies: Though they can filter out a number of airborne contaminants, electrostatic air filters are not ideal for individuals living with severe allergies or respiratory issues.
Call Service Experts Heating & Air Conditioning To Learn if Electrostatic Air Filters are Right For You
Need help deciding if electrostatic air filters are the optimal choice for your home? Get in touch with your neighborhood HVAC experts at Service Experts Heating & Air Conditioning, and we’ll help you make the right decision.
Contact us to schedule your indoor air quality consultation in Livermore today!