All HVAC (heating, ventilating, and air-conditioning) systems include air purification in the form of an in-line filter along the return duct. These filters help clean the air in your home, but they're also critical components. Without a filter in the return duct, dust and debris would quickly make their way to the evaporator coil. Since the coil needs to remain clean to function properly, a missing filter can quickly impact your system's performance.
Of course, since you already have space for a filter in your HVAC system, upgrading it can be an attractive and cost-effective option for improving your home's air quality. Unfortunately, this seemingly simple approach can have some significant drawbacks. Keep reading to learn three reasons why a whole-home HEPA (high-efficiency particulate air) purifier is often a better option than an upgraded filter.
1. No Airflow Restrictions
Your home HVAC system expects a certain volume and velocity of air to pass over the evaporator and heat exchanger. Airflow restrictions can cause problems with both the heating and cooling sides of your system, potentially leading to an overheating furnace or a frozen air conditioner. Naturally, installing a heavy-duty filter can substantially impact system airflow.
Whole-house air purifiers sidestep this issue by either including their own blower or utilizing a bypass design. Bypass systems allow some air to flow around the cleaner, ensuring your air handler receives the airflow it expects. Non-bypass systems use a built-in blower to help ensure that your system performance and reliability remain unaffected.
2. Multiple Stages
An upgraded filter can provide better air purification performance than a stock HVAC filter, but you're still limited to a single filter. Whole-house purifiers may use multiple stages to help catch particles of different sizes and types, helping them to eliminate contaminants, bad odors, and other indoor air quality issues.
Multiple stage systems also help to extend filter life by protecting the main HEPA filter from larger particles. As a result, you can save money on long-term maintenance by replacing the main HEPA filter less frequently than the cheaper prefilters.
3. Higher MERV Ratings
Your filter's MERV (minimum efficiency reporting values) rating indicates the smallest particle size it can catch, providing a good overall indication of its ability to purify the air. However, higher MERV filters also typically create greater airflow restrictions. Even if your HVAC system can handle the airflow restrictions caused by a HEPA filter, you may still be limited to HEPA filters at the lower end of the scale.
Since whole-house system designs help to compensate for airflow problems, they can typically use a higher-rated filter. In other words, you get to enjoy even cleaner air while keeping your home's HVAC system as efficient as ever.
Contact a local HVAC service to learn more about HEPA air purifiers.