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What is an Electrostatic Air Filter, and Do I Need One?

Air-filter replacement is part of HVAC system upkeep. To maintain air quality levels and keep your system running smoothly, you need a clean air filter. Electrostatic filters challenge the need for a disposable version and give homeowners access to a reusable model.

How Electrostatic Air Filters Differ From Traditional Air Filters

Disposable air filters require replacement every four to six weeks, and a high-quality filter costs around $12. Electrostatic filters, however, reduce the need to invest in disposable filters every couple of months. They typically cost between $50 and $100, but may last for years, possibly the lifetime of the unit.

Instead of using disposable polyester pleats to capture allergens, dust, and contaminants, electrostatic air filters use many layers of grate-like metal. As the air flows through the filter, dust and debris remain in between one of the several layers of metal. It uses the same static that gives you a shock when you touch a metal door handle after sliding off a cloth seat to electrically charge and trap particulates.

Homeowners who use reusable electrostatic air filters simply take them outside and hose them off every month or month and a half. Once the filter dries, it’s ready for use once again.

Pros and Cons of Purchasing an Electrostatic Air Filter

The concept of an electrostatic air filter makes sense, but many HVAC professionals have different opinions about using them.

Pros

  • You can save a significant amount of money. Over the years, an electrostatic air filter may save a homeowner hundreds of dollars.
  • Electrostatic filters are sustainable. If you stop throwing away air filters, you prevent those same filters from ending up in landfills. Reusable items are usually more environmentally friendly than their disposable counterparts are.
  • Electrostatic filters do control a significant number of contaminants. While the minimum efficiency reporting value (MERV) rating is not as high on these filters, they do have the ability to collect a wide variety of contaminants including pollen, dust, mold spores, and pet dander.

Cons

  • They may not provide the level of filtration you desire. The highest-quality electrostatic air filters only have about an 8 MERV rating. This is in the medium range; many polyester pleated filters carry a rating of 11 or higher.
  • They may cause buildup in your HVAC system. If the electrostatic filters do not remove all the particulates from the air, those particles may build up inside your vents, ductwork, and HVAC system. For serious buildup problems, you may need to hire a service professional for air duct cleaning.
  • They are not as convenient as disposable filters. Reusable filters take time to clean. You may need to take the filter apart and clean individual layers and allow the entire unit to dry before reinstalling it.

If you don’t need extra-fine filtration for allergy control, you may want to try an electrostatic air filter. You may not notice the difference between a disposable and reusable filter, and making the switch could save more money over time.

Not sure if an electrostatic air filter is right for you? Contact us today for more information.

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