Are Air Scrubbers Efficient?

Are Air Scrubbers Efficient?

Effective home filtration systems are essential. You depend on these solutions to sustain a healthy indoor air environment. Here, we compare air scrubbers to traditional HVAC filters. We’ll also examine their efficiency in removing pollutants, energy consumption rates, health benefits, and more.

You can rely on the following guide to help you decide on the best air filtration system for your O’Fallon, MO home. By the end, you’ll find sufficient insight into which solution best suits your air filtration requirements.

Understanding Air Scrubbers vs. Traditional HVAC Filtration Systems

Air scrubbers leverage their advanced design to improve interior air quality. They actively remove pollutants such as dust, pollen, volatile organic compounds (VOCs), bacteria, and select viruses from your indoor breathing environment.

Air scrubbers draw in contaminated air through a series of filters. Pre-filters capture larger particles, while subsequent filters — often HEPA or activated carbon — target smaller particles and gaseous contaminants.

Some air scrubbers also employ UV light or ionization to neutralize pathogens further. The cleaned air then recirculates back into the environment for a comprehensive purification solution.

Traditional HVAC filtration systems, in comparison, are integrated into residential or commercial heating, ventilation, and air conditioning units. These systems primarily use replaceable air filters to trap airborne particles as air passes through the HVAC ducts.

The most commonly used filters range from basic fiberglass models to more complex pleated options with higher minimum efficiency reporting values (MERV). This MERV rating indicates the filter’s efficiency in capturing particles of various sizes. The higher the rating, the more effective the filter.

Traditional HVAC filters primarily capture larger particles like dust and pollen. However, they may not remove smaller contaminants or pathogens as efficiently.

You can rely on a traditionally integrated filtration system as a passive defense mechanism. These solutions require regular maintenance and replacement to maintain optimal performance. In contrast, air scrubbers offer a more active approach to purification, often capable of addressing a broader range of indoor pollutants.

Types of Air Scrubbers and Filters

You’ll encounter various types of air scrubbers and filters. The primary options include high-efficiency HEPA filters, activated carbon filters, and UV light purifiers. Each solution targets specific contaminants. The following sections explore these solutions while covering traditional HVAC filtration systems and their MERV ratings.

Air Scrubbers

This filtration solution comes in various forms, each targeting different contaminants to improve indoor air quality. The most common air scrubber types incorporate HEPA filters, activated carbon filters, and UV light purifiers.

High-Efficiency Particulate Air (HEPA) Filters

HEPA filters capture 99.97% of particles as small as 0.3 microns. This makes them highly effective at removing dust, pollen, pet dander, and certain bacteria. They’re common in medical settings, but you can increasingly find them in residential homes, as well.

Activated Carbon Filters

This filter type excels in trapping gases and VOCs like smoke, fumes, and odors. Activated carbon filters deploy a carbon layer that chemically absorbs contaminants many traditional filters won’t.

UV Light Purifiers

UV light purifiers use ultraviolet lamps to neutralize bacteria, viruses, and mold spores by disrupting their DNA. This solution integrates into HVAC systems to decontaminate air as it circulates through the ducts.

Traditional HVAC Filtration Systems

Traditional HVAC filtration systems often use replaceable filters rated by the MERV scale. Filters range from MERV 1 to MERV 16, with higher values offering better filtration efficiency. Most residential systems use MERV ratings between 8 and 13. These filters capture larger particles like dust and pollen but may miss smaller pollutants and pathogens.

Commercial HVAC Systems

Commercial HVAC systems generally operate with higher-end MERV filters. They’re often combined with technologies like HEPA or UV purifiers for enhanced performance. Some household HVAC systems can accommodate upgraded filters like HEPA or activated carbon. Remember to consult your HVAC user manual for compatibility before making any filter changes, however.

Installation and Maintenance

How do the installation processes compare for both traditional HVAC systems and air scrubbers? And will you need professional assistance when integrating these solutions? Also, what are their required maintenance tasks, and how do they compare concerning long-term costs? We answer these questions below to help you decide on the best filtration solution.

Air Scrubber Installation

Installing an air scrubber requires integrating the device into your existing HVAC system. You’ll have to know where to find the most appropriate location in the return air duct. This is usually somewhere that allows it to connect to a power source.

While installing some air scrubbers as DIY projects is technically possible, most require professional assistance to ensure proper setup and optimal functionality. Traditional HVAC filters, on the other hand, are relatively straightforward to install.

All you need to do here is open the filter compartment, remove the old filter, and insert a new one. Remember to follow the airflow direction indicated on the filter since improper installation can damage your unit.

Maintenance Requirements

Air scrubbers require minimal maintenance, mainly periodic checks, to ensure all components function correctly. HEPA and activated carbon filters need replacement every 6-12 months, depending on your usage and environmental conditions.

While UV light purifiers require annual bulb replacements, traditional HVAC filters need more frequent attention. They typically require replacement every 1-3 months based on the MERV rating and household conditions.

Concerning long-term costs and effort, air scrubbers generally entail a higher initial investment. They will, however, lower your ongoing maintenance costs due to their durability and efficiency. While traditional HVAC filters involve lower upfront costs, they require more frequent replacements. As such, the expense to run them can add up over time.

Cost Considerations

The initial investments vary significantly between the two systems. Air scrubbers come with a higher upfront cost, ranging from $600 to $2,000, depending on the model and features. Professional installation fees can add $200 to $500 to the total expense.

On the other hand, traditional HVAC filters are far more affordable upfront. A basic filter can cost anywhere between $5 and $20 each. Higher-end options like HEPA filters can range from $50 to $150.

Air scrubbers typically require less frequent maintenance and filter replacements, however. For example, HEPA or activated carbon filters in an air scrubber need replacement every six to 12 months, often costing between $50 and $200.

UV light bulbs may require annual replacement at approximately $100 per bulb. Over time, the improved energy efficiency and enhanced air quality offset these expenses and leave you with a lower utility bill.

In contrast, traditional HVAC filters need replacement every 1-3 months. While individual filters are cheap, frequent replacements can accumulate significant costs over time. Note that these costs mentioned are estimates only and may differ considerably, depending on the setup and your filtration requirements.

Choosing Between an Air Scrubber and Traditional HVAC Filtration

While each system has its unique strengths and weaknesses, the best option always depends on your specific application. Nonetheless, air scrubbers are generally more effective at filtering contaminants. At Hoff Heating & AC in O’Fallon, MO, we can improve your indoor air quality with our expert advice and dependable installation services. Aside from air scrubbers and filtration systems, we deliver comprehensive AC and furnace repair services designed to minimize comfort disruptions at your home. We also offer AC and furnace installation along with geothermal services.

To ensure a safe and healthy home breathing environment, contact Hoff Heating & AC today to schedule your next indoor air quality service!