What’s the Difference Between Air Filters and Air Cleaners?

AC Filter.

Although many health care professionals recommend spending some time outside every day, the truth of the matter is that in today’s modern society, nearly everyone works and lives indoors the majority of the time. As a result, clean indoor air has become a big issue. Indoor air pollution can contribute to general discomfort as well as negatively affect individuals’ overall health.

Great Dane Heating and Air Conditioning works with many of our customers to help address this common concern with both air filtration systems and air cleaners.

What’s the Difference? 

Nearly all heating, ventilation, and air conditioning (HVAC) systems in Clinton Township have some sort of air filter requirement. Inexpensive filters are designed to trap common airborne particles such as dust and dirt as heated or cooled air circulates around your Michigan home. 

The finer the filtration, the smaller the particles the filter can trap. A high-efficiency particulate air (HEPA) filter will remove common allergens like dust mites, pet dander, and pollen most effectively.

On the other hand, air cleaners, also known as air purifiers or air sanitizers, are freestanding units that can clean or filter the surrounding air. Air cleaners use a wide range of mechanical and other absorption devices to remove unwanted particles from the air.

Types of Air Filters

The American Society of Heating, Refrigerating, and Air Conditioning Engineers (ASHRAE) promotes the minimum efficiency reporting value (MERV) rating system to help standardize air filter performance. The MERV rating measures a filter’s ability to remove both large and small particles from the air. Filters are rated from 1 to 16, with a larger number signaling better filtration.

The most common air filter is made from layered fiberglass enclosed in a metal grate. These filters should be replaced once a month for best results.

Pleated polyester fibers increase the surface area, which give these filters more resistance to air and improve filtration performance. These pleated air filters should be replaced every three months.

HEPA filters do the best job of air filtration. The US Department of Energy (DOE) requires HEPA filters capture 99.97 percent of all particles 0.3 microns or larger. According to the National Air Filtration Association (NAFA®), six levels of HEPA filters are available.

Very rarely, washable air filters can be used. These filters actually use dust buildup to improve the effectiveness of the filtration. These trap only larger particles and are typically used in industry as a first-line filtration system.

Types of Air Cleaners

Air cleaners, on the other hand, are separate units used in a particular room of your home. Many different technologies are available today.

Ultraviolet (UV) air cleaners use UV light to disinfect your home from bacteria and viruses. Air passes through a small chamber filled with UV light to treat the surrounding air. UV light can also kill mold and pathogens.

Like HEPA air filters, HEPA air purifiers are designed to remove pollen, dander, dust, and mold from the air. Very small particles can be effectively removed with these systems; however, they can’t remove bacteria and viruses.

If you struggle with smoke or odors, you may want to invest in an activated carbon filter. These are particularly effective in removing gasses as well as other particles. For maximum filtration, invest in a combination activated carbon filter with a HEPA filter built in.

Ionic air purifiers release negative ions into the air, which connect with positive ions like dust, forcing them to fall onto surfaces to be vacuumed or cleaned up. Some advanced models can clean themselves.

Electronic air cleaners can work with your HVAC system using static electricity, HEPA filters, and ionic cleaners all in one. Central air cleaners are similar, as they are also installed to work with your HVAC system, removing indoor airborne particles within your ductwork.

Finally, you may also consider air-to-air exchanges that move indoor air outside and fresh air inside. The unit can stabilize the temperature and humidity during the air exchange process.

Contact Us Today for All Your Indoor Air Quality Needs

To learn more about air filters or air cleaners, contact our professionals at Great Dane Heating & Air Conditioning in Clinton Township, MI. Our trained team can help you select the best air treatment system for you and your family. Reach us at 586-790-2604 or request service online today.

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