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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Aug 2011
    Location
    Northern Ontario Canada
    Posts
    5

    Hmm Filter advice (Electric or Non electric)

    My son and I have asthma and allergies (no pets in the house). I am trying to decide whether to install a Merv 16 Hybrid air cleaner (electric) or simply use a MERV 10 air filter. Once again I have two conflicting opinions from service providers one says it is the way to go and the other says with modern 2 stage furnaces that it is not worth it to go electric because the furnace fan will simply blow the debris off of the ionized plates. I'd like to hear some more feedback from members of this site.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Jul 2004
    Location
    Massachusetts
    Posts
    6,837
    Well, you know about opinions, right? Everybody's got one.

    There are a number of considerations when considering indoor air quality issues (IAQ). Yes, particulate matter is one of them but there are other issues that can also weigh heavily on the problem but are often overlooked. Asthma and bronchitis have been on the rise in recent years and there are studies under way to determine if the much tighter homes of the day are contributing factors. By why wait 10 or 20 years for a study to be done. I doubt you'd consider it advisable to stick your head in a plastic bag and breathe? Well, some houses are just big plastic bags. So proper fresh air exchange is among one of the least addressed but most important elements of IAQ. I'd recommend you have a BPI or HERS certified building analyst do a blower door test on your home to determine whether mechanical fresh air heat exchange should be part of your IAQ solution.

    Off gassing of VOC (volatile organic compounds) is another area of concern. Please know that MERV ratings apply only to air filters, not to the more sophisticated air cleaning products like electronic air cleaners (EAC) and ultraviolet lights (UVL).

    High MERV numbers will also translate into high static pressures in your duct system. In order to overcome the high static, the most widely manufactured high MERV filters are at least 4-inches in depth and are pleated to increase filter area. But please understand that these filters are very good a collecting some pretty small particles only because of the filter density. That means frequent changing of the filter, in some homes monthly. Waiting until the filter is visually dirty with dust is a certain guarantee that the static pressure has been very high on your system for some time. Indeed, it is my experience that even when some high MERV filters look clean, they're already loaded with particulate and in need of replacement.

    Electronic air cleaners will do a better job of capturing and incinerating tiny particles but there are some issues with those as well. Most will capture, hold and incinerate particles as small as .3 microns. However, the incineration process 'cooks' them onto the cell plates, rendering them ineffective by about 45-days of constant use. Professional cleaning is needed (despite manufacturer's claims of cleaning them in the dishwasher - we all know you can't clean an oven with baked on food with soap and water and so it is with baked on tiny particles) and that can be costly. Other electronic air cleaners have easily and cost effective replaceable cells but they must be over sized for the system and care must be taken in the design of the return ducts to keep away from high static pressures.

    Finally, there's the UVL. These are useful to change the DNA of live organisms floating around in the ducted system so that they cannot colonize and thus cannot contaminate the body. UVLs have on average a life of about 10,000 hours, meaning annual replacement of the bulb. Some higher powered units are good for 20,000 hours or 2-years. And don't be fooled. The fact that the bulb lights does not mean it is operating within specifications. At a minimum, a UVL should produce at least 50 mW of power at 1-meter distance from the bulb. Many produce more than double that power and should be among your considerations.

    I am personally bullish on treating the air appropriately. Unfortunately, there's a lot of bad information floating around where many parties are all trying to get a piece of the action, many with limited products, limited knowledge and some with excessive prices. Shop carefully and I do believe you and your son can enjoy a better IAQ in your home. But it's more than just one product and high quality professional design (is that an oxymoron of sorts?) is of the utmost importance.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Jun 2011
    Location
    sfv california
    Posts
    107
    personally i like the 4 in merv 10, eac's when plates are full allow so much through u end up needing a evep coil cleaning in 5 years or less, if u do use one I would suggest using a 1 in filter in ra grille as a pre pre filter, my raise static a little but will ensure evap stays clean, hey skipped, u really use uv bulbs still, ever seen what they can do to an evap coil or its pan over time?

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Jan 2009
    Location
    Keokuk, IA
    Posts
    5,520
    Hoenstly, I don't think you get enough velocity or enough air changes/turnover in any home duct system to really clena the air. A good MERV 10 filter will at least prevent you from blowing dust back around and more imrpotantly keep dust form collecting on the blwoer and coils.

    I think at best you're only going to collect maybe 10% of the dust in your home. Your best defense is to collect after it settles and that's with a top quality vacuum cleaner with a HEPA filter. vacuum at least twice a week if your that sensitive.

    For filters. I'd actually look at a supplemental HEPA filter (Merv 18 & above I think?) that is ducted into the main unit. I think Broan makes one that a HEPA filter AND and an air exchanger.

    If you're concerned about VOC's the old saying goes... the best solution to pollution is dilution. ther'es a lto of truth to that. Add fresh filtered air into your home and you help it emensely.

    Finally there's humidity levles. Maintaining good humidity levels year round make a huge difference. There are whole hosue dehumidifiers that also bring in fresh air.

    Teddy Bear will add more.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Jul 2006
    Location
    Virginia
    Posts
    4,619
    All electronic air cleaners produce ozone and it can cause problems with some people with asthma. My personal favorite is the April air filter or the honeywell

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Jan 2008
    Posts
    1,992
    The filter in your HVAC system is not there to clean the air in your home. It is there to protect the equipment from dirt and dust.
    UV lights can help in killing bacteria, etc, but if you need cleaner air in your home, I would look at some type of separate system for that task.
    Google is your friend. And of coarse there are plenty of IAQ experts here, one of which I am not.
    "Hey Lama, hey, how about a little something, you know, for the effort." And he says, "there won't be any money, but when you die, on your deathbed, you will receive total consciousness." So I got that goin' for me, which is nice. - Carl Spackler

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Feb 2009
    Location
    Portland OR
    Posts
    1,975
    I am much in agreement with Skippedover, I highly recommend an ERV or HRV for your system, they may be a little spendy but consider the benefits. The Lifebreath 155 CFM ECM ERV in my area qualifies for a $300 state tax credit because of the efficiency. As for air cleaners i highly recomend the honeywell TrueClean, I just started installing these over the trane Clean effects recently but they do require a costly filter change once or twice per year depending on your system.

    I have installed a Honeywell F500 HEPA filtration system but wow, talk about excessive filter costs try 2XX.XX per year and up. The Broan HEPA is the same way.

    Here is a recent high efficiency indoor air quality system I recently installed. This is an invertor driven compressor with variable speed fan, Honeywell F500 Bypass HEPA filtration, with honeywell F100 primary filtration(MERV13 upgrade inside) and a Lifebreath 155 CFM ECM ERV.
    http://www.youtube.com/user/SkyHeati.../0/ZrCId6XNkR4

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Jan 2008
    Posts
    1,992
    I cannot testify to the Lifebreath, but I have seen them in many dentist/doctors offices. They seem very pleased with results.
    Personally, in a normal residential situation, I prefer a 5" media filter over an electronic, for the simple fact that I see very few EAC's properly maintained. And they are very cost effective.
    Once again I am not an IAQ expert, many folks here are though.
    "Hey Lama, hey, how about a little something, you know, for the effort." And he says, "there won't be any money, but when you die, on your deathbed, you will receive total consciousness." So I got that goin' for me, which is nice. - Carl Spackler

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Jan 2009
    Location
    Keokuk, IA
    Posts
    5,520
    I have a Trion Air-Bear 5" media filter at my last hosue and just bought one for my current home...just waiting for the hot spell to end and get my contractor to do the sheetmetal work to install it. The housing isn't as fancy, but it's much, much cheaper (sometimes 1/2 the price) as the Honeywell and Aprilaire media filters, and the replacement are less as well. The housing isn't as fancy, but it seems to be pretty well sealed.

    But again, the velocity and air turnover rate is so low, that you can't really expect it to remove more than a small percentage of all dust in your home. The best you can do it trap it so it doesn't get recirculated. MERV 10 should be plenty for that. Those with asthma are really concerened about pollen dust and mold all of which I beleive MERV 10 will capture.

    Regular vacuuming with a good quality vacuum cleaner is the best option. You can also consider hardwood, tile or laminate floors over carpet as well. They can be wet (or semi-wet) cleaned, which is the best way to clean.

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Oct 2004
    Location
    So Cal
    Posts
    3,489
    We install the Aprilaire 5000 on many of our jobs. You get both an electronic air cleaner as well as a pleated filter.

    http://www.aprilaire.com/index.php?z...ry=7&item=5000

  11. #11
    Join Date
    Jun 2001
    Location
    Moore, Oklahoma, United States
    Posts
    4,186
    I've had good results using the low cost 4" Merv 7 filters from the local HVAC supply. The filters don't cost anymore than the 1" pleated filters at the big box store. The 4" filters work better and last longer too.

  12. #12
    Join Date
    Aug 2011
    Location
    San Jose California
    Posts
    166
    I like the 4-5 inch for particulate, and the uv for bacteria...

  13. #13
    Join Date
    Aug 2011
    Location
    Eastern Shore, MD
    Posts
    798
    Quote Originally Posted by dougielearner View Post
    My son and I have asthma and allergies (no pets in the house). I am trying to decide whether to install a Merv 16 Hybrid air cleaner (electric) or simply use a MERV 10 air filter. Once again I have two conflicting opinions from service providers one says it is the way to go and the other says with modern 2 stage furnaces that it is not worth it to go electric because the furnace fan will simply blow the debris off of the ionized plates. I'd like to hear some more feedback from members of this site.

    anything less than MERV 12 captures less than 4% of the particulate matter in the air...most stuff in the air is less than 1 micron in size (1/25400 of an inch ) that will go through ANY pleated filter or ANY "filter" for that matter....certainly stepping down in the MERV rating wont help. IF you have asthma or allergies and you don't go with a EAC that you understand how to maintance properly, your only hurting yourself and your family

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