Do Electrostatic Air Filters Really Work?

Electrostatic air filter devices are an effective way to filter allergens from the air. These filters work by using oppositely charged ions to trap airborne particles before they enter your home. Unlike pleated filters, electrostatic air filters don't need to be replaced as often, as they use electricity to capture dust, pollen, and other particles. There are several layers of metal or synthetic material in these filters, which create static electricity as air passes through them.

This static electricity is what traps the particles in the filter. However, as particles begin to build up in the filtration system, the efficiency of the air cleaner begins to decline. Cleaning these particles can be quite complicated, requiring disassembling the internal filtration system and sometimes using specific cleaning fluids for best results. In addition, you must wait until the system is completely dry to return it to the air cleaner, which may take some time.

HEPA air purifiers typically have a first-pass efficiency rate of 87 to 99 percent, which means they capture more particles than electrostatic air purifiers. Electrostatic air purifiers have a first pass efficiency rate of 60 to 80 percent and require a greater amount of time to improve indoor air quality. In addition, electrostatic air cleaners must operate at a lower speed to be more effective. That is, if the air passes too fast, the air cleaner will not charge or remove the particles.

HEPA air purifiers can operate at any level and still trap 87 to 99 percent of the particles in the air within the first air exchange. Like any filter, electrostatic filters remove fine particles and debris from the air. This prevents the heater or air conditioner from recirculating dust, pollen, pet fur, pet dander, microorganisms, and other tiny debris around the house. The filter also stops dust and dirt before they reach the HVAC unit.

This can reduce the risk of wear-related damage and increase efficiency. Most electrostatic air filters can successfully remove large particles, dust, pollen and fibers from carpets. However, they tend to do a poor job of capturing small particles and mold spores. Electrostatics is a very good science, but ultimately it's not particularly useful on its own. It can give a good boost to a well-built pleated air filter, but it's actually not enough to do the job on its own.

This is because the attractiveness of the air cleaner manifold weakens more and more as particles accumulate in the filter medium. Airflow is restricted to your oven with pleated filters and not all manufacturers recommend using them, so always consult your owner's manual before changing them. If you want to save money, time, and hassle on air filtration for your home's HVAC system, but don't mind a slightly higher upfront cost, an electrostatic filter might be the best option for you. Most normal household contaminants such as mold, pollen and pet dander are larger and easily captured and removed with a standard AC air filter. After six to eight months of regular use, HEPA air purifier filters are recommended to be replaced for optimal air quality. The term “electrostatic air filters” can mean one of two things: an air purifying unit that uses electricity to charge particles or a disposable filter panel that is usually placed in a heating ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC) system. This ensures that the filter does not lose its efficiency and continues to filter as many particles as it can. This means that electrostatic precipitators cannot filter the air of all particles with the same level of efficiency; it may depend on the size of the pollutant.

To maintain maximum filter performance I recommend cleaning the electrostatic filter at least once a month.

Janice Kampman
Janice Kampman

Subtly charming musicaholic. Zombie evangelist. Incurable travel lover. Devoted beer enthusiast. Passionate zombie specialist.

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