With the ongoing threat of the Coronavirus, winter weather and flu season on the way, we have been fielding a lot of questions about HEPA filters, as well as other types of air filters for HVAC systems. Even for industry outsiders, HEPA filters are associated with the best of the best — the gold standard.
But what does HEPA even mean? And are HEPA filters actually preferable to other filters?
First off, HEPA is just an acronym for high efficiency particulate air. The high efficiency part of the term refers to the fact that a HEPA filter is designed to efficiently capture most of the tiny critters, bacteria and particulates that can make the hours of our lives suddenly feel like days or weeks.
What the fine print will tell you is that HEPA filters are able to trap up to around 99.97 percent of the tiny particles, pollutants and allergens that are found in most indoor air environments, down to a size of about 0.3 microns. This means HEPA filters are an effective means of reducing or even completely eliminating dust mites, pollen and bacteria, as these can range between 1 and 100 microns.
So why aren’t people rushing out to clear the shelves of HEPA filters, similar to the way that hand sanitizer was not available for so long?
The reason is that HEPA filters are ineffective as a barrier against Covid-19 particles. Since many of the experts agree that some Covid-19 particles can be as small as 0.06 microns, a HEPA filter is simply not a good weapon to use in the fight against the spread of this terrible disease.
It is also worth pointing out that HEPA filters have an array of negative attributes, such as:
- HEPA filters are too thick – Most residential HVAC systems are designed to hold a much thinner air filter than a HEPA filter, which typically average between five and eight inches thick. Installing a HEPA filter thus requires a modification to the filter housing, and this can be an expensive undertaking.
- HEPA filters can strain HVAC systems – The design issue can also create a strain on your HVAC system, since most residential systems don’t have the power to pull air across something as thick as a HEPA filter. The impact is that the airflow is reduced, making the system have to work harder to reach a desired temperature setting, a factor that increases wear and tear, in addition to using more electricity.
- HEPA filters bring added costs – Compared to most air filters, which can cost between $5 and $20, the dollar amount a home owner can expect to spend on a HEPA filter can be up to a few hundred. The cost factor is compounded by the fact that HEPA filters are more effective at removing airborne particulates, so they have to be replaced more often than standard filters.
There are other mitigation strategies for Covid-19 that are far more effective than using a HEPA filter. Aside from washing hands, wearing a mask and maintaining social distance, using an ultraviolet air purifier inside of an HVAC system can help to remove viruses and other nasties from indoor air. An air purifier that uses oxidation and ionization technology could also be effective, as these can reduce the impact of airborne bacteria, allergens, viruses and mold.
Though it could be very easy right now to sell HEPA filters or persuade home owners to upgrade their systems to accommodate for the larger size of a HEPA filter, it is simply not the right thing to do. Here at Green Dot our focus is on providing our customers with a consultative approach and the resources they need to make the best possible decision.
If you have a question about anything in this article or would like to schedule a consultation about having an air purifier installed in your home, please call 910-791-0480, text 910-612-0052, or email [email protected]
Chris Jones and the team at Green Dot HVAC are committed to provide their clients with a consultative, transparent approach, driven by innovative technology and a diligent work ethic. With a team of highly trained and versatile technicians, a focus on helping clients make informed decisions, and a commitment to deliver substantial value, Green Dot HVAC is a leader in the Southeast North Carolina marketplace. To arrange a free at-home consultation, a repair/installation or simply find guidance about the nuances of modern heating and air conditioning systems, call 910-791-0480 or text 910-612-0052.