Shipton's CleanAir Solutions Blog
The Difference Between HEPA Air Filters Versus HEPA Air Cleaners?
Which Do You Need?
Today is a strange time to be alive. Even as debate rages on over whether or not coronavirus is an airborne illness, we are simply trying to cope with daily changes we can't anticipate or plan for.
For most of us, we don’t have the time or energy to closely follow the finer points of the scientific community's ongoing international debate regarding how COVID-19 is transmitted and spread.
Our immediate needs are much more practical. In a nutshell, we need to know exactly what we should be doing right now, today, to reduce our risk of catching COVID-19.
HEPA technology is one potentially protective technology we can add to our indoor spaces now. HEPA stands for "high efficiency particulate air." HEPA is a technology that was first developed during World War II. HEPA filtration worked well then and is still a gold standard in the air quality industry today.
In this article, Clean Air Solutions addresses pressing questions that many of our customers have been asking about HEPA technology:
- What is a HEPA air filter?
- How is that different from a HEPA air cleaner?
- Which is better to protect against COVID-19?
How HEPA Technology Works
HEPA technology was first developed during World War II. The goal was to develop sufficiently dense filtration to prevent scientists from inhaling radioactive airborne particles.
It worked. The scientists stayed safe, and after the war ended, HEPA technology found important new jobs in military and civilian circles.
The term “HEPA” is a reference to a specific level of air cleaning efficiency. Any product or filter bearing a HEPA label must be able to remove solid airborne particles of a certain small size with up to 99.97% efficiency.
Therefore, HEPA filters feature both a very dense filter material and a very intense airflow.
The airflow pushes the air and its solid particles into the HEPA filter. Then the HEPA filter captures them and contains them.
HEPA filters can capture particles as small as 0.01 microns.
Can HEPA Trap Coronavirus Particles?
The virus that causes COVID-19 has a width of 0.125 microns. It ranges in overall size from 0.06 to 0.14 microns.
As you just learned, HEPA technology can capture particles as small as 0.01 microns.
For size-comparison purposes: a single hair on your head has a diameter of about 75 microns.
So HEPA technology definitely has the capability to trap infectious SARS-CoV-2 airborne droplets.
How Is a HEPA Air Filter Made?
A HEPA filter is a specialized, incredibly dense filter that makes it nearly impossible for trapped solid particles to escape.
HEPA air filters are made of microscopic glass fibres – imagine a very tiny spool of very thin thread made out of glass and you’ve got the right idea.
The fibres are first tangled up and then heavily compressed to form a mat riddled with tiny air pockets. These air pockets are what admit the solid particles that will be trapped.
The special properties of these glass fibres can trap microscopic solids in three ways: by impaction (direct impact), interception (trapping and sticking) and diffusion (sticking).
A HEPA air filter is a device that suspends this thick glass fibre mat inside a frame or case made of (essentially) molten plastic.
HEPA air filters work with HEPA-rated devices. These can include HVAC systems, vacuum cleaners and air cleaners.
NOTE: Only HEPA-rated devices can pair with HEPA air filters!
What Is a HEPA Air Cleaner?
A HEPA air cleaner is a specialized air filtration appliance specifically designed to work with a HEPA air filter.
These devices are sometimes also called HEPA air filtration systems and HEPA air purifiers.
NOTE: The term "purifier" is more commonly used to refer to technology that works on liquid or gaseous airborne toxins, such as this unit.
HEPA air cleaners can pair with any central (ducted) HVAC system whether it is HEPA-rated or not.
Alternatively, you can add a standalone HEPA filtration system to a non-ducted HVAC to get the same benefit.
What Happens If You Use a HEPA Air Filter in a Regular HVAC System?
Our team at Clean Air Solutions has gotten more than a few calls from customers who want to know if they can simply order a HEPA filter and use it with their regular residential or commercial HVAC system.
Unless your HVAC system is MERV 17 to 20 rated, the answer here is a solid “no.”
Pairing a HEPA air filter with a standard residential or commercial system that has a MERV rating of any lower than 17 is not recommended for two key reasons.
1. The first reason is that the HEPA air filter is so dense it will cause severe airflow restriction. This, in turn, will reduce the life expectancy of your HVAC system and potentially cause blower motor failure.
2. The second key reason is that requiring your standard HVAC system to work with a HEPA filter can potentially cause the blower motor to overheat, triggering a fire.
The Best Way to Add HEPA Filtration to Any Space
Regardless of the type of HVAC system you have, it is possible to add the protection of HEPA filtration to any space.
There are two main types of standalone HEPA air cleaners: central (ducted) and portable (room unit).
Central HEPA Air Cleaner
Central HEPA air cleaners work seamlessly with any central HVAC system by filtering the air before it enters your ducts to get distributed throughout your space.
Portable HEPA Air Cleaner
Portable HEPA air cleaners work with any space by using high intensity air flow to filter the air inside that space.
Get in Touch With The Experts At Clean Air Solutions
Here at Clean Air Solutions Hamilton, we are considered an essential business and remain open to serve you safely with contact-less options during this difficult time.
We are now offering online ordering, curbside pickup and shipping. Are you looking to install a HEPA filter system for your home and/or workplace? Give us a call at 1-905-549-2470 or visit us online - we service Hamilton and the surrounding areas (including Ancaster, Burlington, Grimsby, Oakville etc.).