Have you ever wondered…
What type of air filter should I use in my air conditioner? What does the MERV rating mean? How often should I change the filter in my air conditioner? Overwhelmed by the vast selection of air filter types, sizes and intended uses? At Air Care Systems, Inc. “We Care About the Air You Breathe” and educating our customers to make informed decisions is our main priority. Here are some answers to a few of the questions typically asked by customers.
What type of air filter should I use in my air conditioner?
*We strongly discourage the use of standard throw away filters as the only filtration source on a system. Standard throw away filters provide little to no benefit in protecting the evaporator coil from becoming plugged by dust, particles and pet hair; nor does it protect you from the same irritants and pollutants in the air.*
TIP: Here is a simple way to tell how efficient you current filter is, and whether or not you are using a standard throw away filter. First, hold the filter horizontally or vertically in front of you, if you can see through the filter to the other side, you are using a standard throw away filter with a MERV 1-4 rating. It is the least effective filter on the market for protecting your investment and your occupants from harmful particulates.
FACT: Poor indoor air quality can negatively impact your heating and cooling system performance and add to the cost of running your system. According to the US EPA, a buildup of .042 (1/20) inches of dirt on the indoor cooling coil can result in a decrease in efficiency of up to 21%.
There are three basic types of filtration methods in use today:
Passive filters use a fibrous filtering material. They can range from very inefficient to highly efficient HEPA filters. Generally, the cheaper they are and the less air resistance they have, the less effective they are. The higher the air resistance, the more energy is required to overcome the airflow resistance, contributing to higher energy costs to operate. If a passive filter is too restrictive, it can cause damage to mechanical equipment.
Electronic, corona discharge filters electrically charge particles passing through them, then attract the particles to a series of grounded collector plates where the dirt accumulates. The collector is then removed for cleaning. Unlike passive filters that become more efficient as they load, corona discharge devices tend to become less efficient as they load, especially if the cleaning regimen is not maintained properly.
Active electronic, polarized media filters, such as Dynamic, represent the third major group of air filtration devices. This newer technology uses an electrical charge (safe, 24 volt current in the case of Dynamic) to establish a polarized field. Airborne particles pass through the field and adhere to the media. Like a passive filter, polarized media filters increase in efficiency as they load. Designed for use primarily in recirculating systems, polarized media filters can provide very high efficiency with a static pressure drop much lower than passive filters claiming a similar efficiency. This may lead to a decrease in energy consumption. Unlike corona discharge devices, the Dynamic cannot produce ozone, and maintenance is easy with periodic replacement of a disposable media.
Contact our office for information on Dynamic Air Cleaners locally at 321-385-3950 or Toll Free at 855-632-9449.
When choosing a filter we strongly encourage you to consult with your N.A.T.E. Certified Technician as to which filter is appropriate for your individual home or office.
Consider the following when choosing your filter :
Filter Size is very important when ordering or purchasing your system’s filter. Read manufacturer’s instructions PRIOR to attempting to alter any filter’s size. The filter may not be designed for alteration and any alteration could weaken the filter, later causing it to be sucked into the system and subsequently cause damage. Using too small of a filter will also allow particulate matter to flow past the filter edges and onto the coil causing subsequent obstruction of the coil.
Most times the size will be located and printed on the side of your current filter. Be careful not to throw away the last filter without recording the size somewhere safe for future reference.
Most 1” air filters are a standard size and are readily available through your local home improvement store. However, there are a few equipment manufacturers’ i.e. Carrier/Bryant who still use non-standard size air handler cabinets and non-standard filter sizes. Consult with your manufacturer or Air Care Systems for these filter sizes. You can order filters from Air Care Systems, Inc. should you so desire.
If your filter is not changed at the unit itself, rather, it is located in a filter back grille in the wall or ceiling, measuring the inside dimensions of the grille is appropriate to obtain filter size.
What does the MERV rating mean?
Filter efficiencies are given a number from 1-16 called the MERV rating. MERV stands for Minimum Efficiency Reporting Value. This number tells the user, under the least efficient conditions, how well the filter is designed to trap contaminants.
The higher the MERV value, the more efficient the air filter is at removing particles. At the lower end of the efficiency spectrum a fiberglass panel filter may achieve MERV 4 or 5. At the higher end, filters that achieve MERV 13 or 14 are typically used in hospitals and clean rooms. High MERV filters are capable of removing higher quantities of extremely small contaminant (particles as small as 1/300 the diameter of a human hair). Higher MERV ratings can create problems with greater airflow resistance. This is also referred to as static pressure. With most filters the filter media becomes denser, and static pressure increases, as the filter efficiency increases. Increased static pressure forces the system fan motor to work harder as it pushes air through the filter. This also increases energy consumption. So for optimum performance, consumers should select the highest efficiency filter with the lowest static pressure to prevent causing harm to the equipment.
Air Care Systems, Inc. recommends a MERV of 6-8 for most systems. Use of higher MERV filters or filter systems should be evaluated by your Air Care Systems, Inc. N.A.T.E. Certified technician.
What is a micron?
Particle size is usually measured in microns, a metric unit of measure. A micron is 1/25,000 of an inch. There are over 20 million particles in the average cubic foot of indoor air.
Approximately 98% of all particles (by count) are in the size range of 5 microns or less. Visible particles represent only a small fraction of particles found in indoor air.
Item Size Eye of a needle 500 to 2000 microns Grain of Sand 100 to 2000 microns Human Hair 40 to 300 microns Pollen 10 to 50 microns Mold Spores 10 to 30 microns Bacteria .07 to 10 microns Typical Dust .01 to 10 microns Paint Particles .05 to 3 microns Tobacco Smoke .01 to 3 microns Viruses .001 to .01 microns
How often should I replace my air filter?
There’s no one-size-fits-all answer. The frequency of filter changes is driven by how much your heating and air conditioning system operates, which is also driven by your individual climate; how much traffic your home receives, the presence of a fluffy pet or in some cases, multiple fluffy pets and the location of the filter . Start by checking the system’s filters at least once a month. Hold the used filter up to the light and compare it to a clean “spare.” When light is obscured by captured dust and dirt particles, the old filter should be changed. Different types of filter media will also direct the frequency of filter changes or replacements. Standard throw away filters will normally require replacement monthly or more frequently, while a 5” filter media, in most cases will require replacement every 3-6 months. At a minimum, it is always a good idea to change filters at the start of the heating and cooling seasons and then in between according to your need. Also, it is a good idea to have your heating and air system checked at the beginning of the heating and cooling season to insure proper operation. Any issues with improper filtration will also be evaluated and recommendations made at this time.
Gone are the days of using filtration solely for the purpose of protecting the home’s comfort equipment and lessen time spent on dusting. Today’s homeowners expect performance and reliability in their air filters and electronic air cleaners to rescue their most precious commodity, their children and family, from damaging biologicals, pollutants and even dust mites.
Should your family suffer from respiratory problems or allergies and require an electronic air cleaner or higher MERV rated filters, consider a whole home solution like Trane Clean Effects-removes 99.98% of particulates down to 0.1 microns from your home’s air.