Talking About Air Filtration Systems

Talking About Air Filtration Systems

How To Choose Between An Electrostatic Air Filter And An Electronic Air Cleaner

Tammy Terry

Living in a dry area or near a lot of vehicle traffic often leaves your home coated in thick layers of dust, even when you wipe everything down on a weekly basis. Upgrading the air filtration equipment on your central HVAC system is a lot more efficient than trying to manage the problem with a free-standing purifier in every room. Both electrostatic fabric filters and powered electronic air cleaners improve the quality of your indoor air, but each one offers a different set of benefits and drawbacks.


For many homeowners, cost is the first concern because they're operating on a tight budget. In this category, the electrostatic filter definitely wins. You can find a matching filter for $20 or so, while a complete electronic cleaner costs around $750. It's well worth upgrading if you have the money, but a simple and affordable static-treated filter still offers better cleaning when you simply can't borrow or save enough for the electronic model right now. Don't worry about the cost of operating the electrically powered electronic cleaner -- it only adds a few pennies per month to your bill when it's working properly.


Don't forget to factor in the cost and hassle of installation when comparing these two air filtration options. The basic electrostatic filter slides right in and requires no professional attention, unless you want to use a thicker filter. Don't add a two-inch thick model to your furnace if it's designed to use one-inch pleated designs instead or you'll end up with a damaged air conditioner or furnace.

In contrast, electronic cleaners absolutely need professional installation. You'll need to pay the HVAC installer's hourly fee so they can mount the unit in the right place and wire it properly to prevent fire risks. This inflates the cost of the electronic option even further.


These two air cleaning options differ greatly in their abilities to trap dust. The best electronic air cleaning plates and coils capture between 95% and 99% of even the smallest particles passing through the HVAC system, which is only offered by HEPA filters aside from these types of cleaners. A pre-filter is also used with this equipment to catch larger debris like pet hair and pollen.

In comparison, electrostatic filters only trap about 70% of standardized testing dust and less than 20% of atmospheric dust when tested in the lab. This gives them a minimum efficiency reporting value (MERV) of one to four, while many basic pleated filters are at least a five or six on this scale. An electrostatic filter is slightly better at dealing with the finest particles, but it's not necessarily better at cleaning the air across the board than a disposable fiberglass product.


Both types of filters require about the same amount of maintenance. Neither one works well when coated in a thick layer of dust, and both are easily washed off outside with a spray nozzle attached to your water hose. However, you can wash both the charged cells and the pre-filters of an electronic air cleaner in the dishwasher to save time.


Finally, some air conditioners simply can't handle the extra air resistance created by the use of an electrostatic filter. These reusable and washable models are woven tightly so the static charge can create a field between the fibers and catch incoming dust particles. The extra resistance increases the wear and tear on your HVAC equipment and may reduce the heating and cooling coming out of your air registers. In contrast, the electronic air cleaner is a separate device that doesn't impede the air flow at all. It's a great option for upgrading an HVAC system that can only handle the thinnest and least efficient media filters.


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About Me
Talking About Air Filtration Systems

Hey everyone, I am Mort Nicholas. Since I have allergies to pollen, dust and chemicals, I must filter the air blowing through my home day and night. The air filtration systems hook straight to the furnace and air conditioner to provide my home with fresh air at all times. The filters used for these systems capture the tiniest of particles to keep them out of my airways. As a result, I often wake up feeling healthy and refreshed. I hope to share the benefits of having filtered air flowing through your home. I will discuss symptoms caused by contaminated air. In addition, I will share information about air filtration maintenance services provided by HVAC contractors.