Looking to upgrade your air filters? You can breathe easy with help from Chief/Bauer Service Experts, your resident HVAC specialist in Champaign. While there are many types of air filters to choose from, installing electrostatic air filters is a simple way to improve 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 entering your home, lowering the amount of allergens and pollutants that circulate within your residence 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 opposite poles. If you've ever tried to push two like poles together, you'd find that they repel each other. Likewise, when two opposing poles become close, they attract one another.
Electrostatic air filters work similarly to 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 accumulate particles over time. As more particles collect, the filter's effectiveness diminishes, but a thorough cleaning can resolve that issue. When washed and maintained regularly, these filters can last indefinitely.
Air Filter Effectiveness
Filter effectiveness is based 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 capture. MERV ratings can range from 1-20, with lower ratings being less efficient than higher ratings. Additionally, it’s important to note that as the rating increases, 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 specialized HVAC system.
Regular vs Electrostatic Air Filters
The most common air filters are made from pleated media placed in disposable cardboard frames. These filters are considered mechanical because they physically block pollutants from entering your home, unlike electrostatic air filters which depend mainly on static electricity to trap particles. Typically, these filters have MERV ratings between 1 and 4, meaning they can handle large debris simply enough 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 safeguarding your HVAC system from large debris and can increase 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 remove up to 99.97% of airborne contaminants. HEPA filters are highly efficient at improving indoor air quality and can even reduce harmful pathogens. Frequently placed in hospitals, HEPA filters are less likely to be installed in residential settings because of their cost, but can dramatically 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 great 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 alluring, 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 common disposable air filters.
- Cost-Effective: Washable air filters have a higher up-front 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 harder to push air through a thick filter.
- Monthly Maintenance: To maintain their effectiveness, these filters must be thoroughly cleaned each month.
- Less Effective for Asthma and Allergies: Though they can filter out most airborne contaminants, electrostatic air filters are not ideal for individuals living with severe allergies or respiratory issues.
Call Chief/Bauer Service Experts To Determine if Electrostatic Air Filters are Right For You
Need help deciding if electrostatic air filters are the correct choice for your home? Get in touch with your neighborhood HVAC experts at Chief/Bauer Service Experts, and we’ll help you make the right decision.
Contact us to schedule your indoor air quality consultation in Champaign today!