Off late, you must be hearing a lot about the HEPA air filters. Especially in regards to its effectiveness in stopping the spread of the coronavirus indoors. Yes, the virus is airborne, so you should be concerned about the indoor ait quality. But is the HEPA air filter the best solution? Does it really help, or its all a hype created due to misinformation?
What Is The HEPA Air Filter?
HEPA stands for High-Efficiency Particulate Air. It is a rating for air filters that measures their efficiency. The common standard requires that the air filter must be able to remove 99.95% (as per European Standard) and 99.97% (as per US Department of Energy) of particles of 0.3 microns. Notable is that the HEPA air filters do not offer 100% efficiency, but close to it.
Why Do People Think HEPA AC Filter Can Capture COVID Virus?
SARS-CoV-2 is the coronavirus responsible for COVID-19. Usually, viruses, including the SARS-CoV-2 virus, can be way smaller than 0.3 microns. Despite that, people assume that the HEPA filters can trap the airborne virus because they are attached to a bigger droplet. This droplet is trapped by the filter and hence the COVID-19 virus as well.
HEPA Filters Are Not A Foolproof Protection Against COVID-19
As a COVID-19 mitigating solution, HEPA filters may not be a guaranteed solution. We do not say this lightly. Here are a few facts that will prove the point:
1. HEPA Filters Cannot Capture All SARS-CoV-2 Particles – As we mentioned above, HEPA AC filters’ efficiency is above 99%, but that does not mean it is 100%. It means that some virus particles may still escape from its clutches. Practically speaking, the filter has a good chance of trapping the virus particles present in the air passing through it. There is still a chance that the disease may transmit from one person to another before the contaminated air even reaches the air filters. So, having HEPA AC filters does not give any blanket protection against the COVID-19 virus.
2. All Air Conditioning systems Are Not HEPA Compatible – Residential air conditioners are typically designed to use thin air filters. In comparison, the HEPA filters are thick and hence, incompatible with the home’s cooling system. Until you upgrade to a HEPA compatible AC system or modify your existing system, you wouldn’t be able to use the HEPA filters. There is nothing wrong with these two options other than the fact that both are expensive. Therefore, it will depend on whether you can afford the upgrade or modification to accommodate the filter to a large extent.
Other Disadvantages Of HEPA Air Filters
HEPA filters have a couple more disadvantages, which makes them a poor choice with the masses. These are:
1. HEPA Filters Are Expensive – HEPA AC filters are not as cheap as the standard air filters. A MERV (Minimum Efficiency Reporting Value) 8 filter costs around $5.50 per piece, while a MERV 13 filter costs roughly $17 per piece. In comparison, the HEPA filters can cost anywhere between $200 to $1000, which is way costlier, making them out of budget for most American homes.
2. They Reduce Efficiency And Cause Breakdowns – HEPA filters are highly efficient because they are very dense. Being dense, the air cannot pass through them as freely as it ideally should. Even your cooling systems fan may not have sufficient horsepower to pull it through. When the airflow decreases, the chances of a malfunction or breakdown increases. Conversely, it also means that the system’s efficiency drops and your home is unable to cool as well as before. The unit will now have to run longer to achieve the desired temperature.
Alternative Options To Mitigate COVID-19
HEPA AC Filters are not the sole alternative to COVID mitigation. Here are some more things that you do to ensure your safety and that of your family while indoors.
1. Use MERV 13 Air Filters – HEPA filters fall in the range of MERV 17 to MERV 20. Using MERV 13 air filters, you can trap 50% of the particles that fall in the same size range as COVID particles. Additionally, they also reduce the dust and allergens suspended in the air. The good thing about these filters is that most air conditioners can accommodate them, and they are way cheaper than the HEPA filters.
2. Ensure Adequate Ventilation – Most closed spaces have poor air quality due to insufficient ventilation. Adequate ventilation reduces the concentration of dust, pollen, mold spores, bacteria, viruses, and other pathogens inside the house. If the house is properly ventilated, even the concentration of the COVID virus will decline.
3. UV Lights For HVAC – UV sanitization lights for the HVAC system are another way to disinfect the passing air. Depending on the intensity and length of exposure, the UV lights can effectively kill the SARS-CoV-2. In fact, UV lights for HVAC are fast gaining popularity amongst the masses due to its usefulness and cost-effectiveness.
HEPA AC filters should at no time be considered the first and only line of defense against the SARS-CoV-2 virus. It can, however, be considered as a mitigating option. But as a standalone measure, it is not a viable option. Though used in combination with other mitigating options like UV lights, air purifiers, and good ventilation, it becomes a powerful tool. Nonetheless, one needs to keep in mind that HEPA AC filters are very expensive and not suitable for most air conditioning systems.
If you live in West Palm Beach, Florida, and wish to further discuss the COVID mitigating options for your home, you can talk to the air experts at Aztil Air Conditioning. We are a 100+ strong team of HVAC professionals who take care of all the commercial and residential HVAC needs. Our technicians are trained to carry out installation, repairs, and maintenance of your HVAC systems. We can further help you figure out the most appropriate air quality solutions for your home and office. Our knowledge and experience make us true experts in the field. When you call Aztil AC, you can rest assured that your heating and cooling unit is in the best hands. The good news is that we are open 24/7, so call us any time at +1-888-729-8452.