Do you want to improve the quality of the air inside you home? If you are looking to bring in clean air and eliminate germs, then an electronic air cleaner may be the answer. So what is an electronic air cleaner and is it really worth the investment? Here are some facts about EACs.
What Are EACs?
Electronic air cleaners, also known as EACs, are electrically powered air filters, says Keith Hill, manager of technical support at Minnesota Air.
“They use electricity to generate a static charge in the airstream as it enters the filter. Any particles in the air, regardless of size, become positively charged. As they near the collector side of the air cleaner, which is negatively charged, the particles move to the collector and cling just like blond pet hair on black slacks,” he says. “But with the amplification of the static charge with some electricity, the results are a much stronger attraction and a much stronger ‘cling.’ The particles will stick to the collector until it’s cleaned or replaced.”
In an HVAC unit that relies on a regular filtration system, you will see a conventional filter in use to remove dust and debris. But that’s limited by the size of the openings in the filter, says Keith.
“Like a sieve or a strainer, the smaller the openings, the smaller the particles that it will collect,” he says. “The problem with that is the small openings in a high-efficiency mechanical filter cause air restriction, which requires more blower horsepower to push the air through it and it clogs up quicker. An EAC achieves high efficiency with little restriction to the air stream and it will collect particles of all sizes – even down to the microscopic level."
What Types Of EACs Are There?
There are various technologies that can be used in air-cleaning devices. According to the Environmental Protection Agency website:
“Filtration and electrostatic attraction are effective in removing airborne particles. Adsorption or chemisorption captures some gaseous and vaporous contaminants. Some air cleaners use ultraviolet light (UV) technology. Ultraviolet germicidal irradiation (UVGI) has been used to kill some microorganisms growing on surfaces. Photocatalytic oxidation (PCO), another UV light technology under development, has the potential to destroy gaseous contaminants.”
Keith says most air cleaners are 6” to 11” wide, so there will be some ductwork changes needed.
“Some use a metal plate system to collect the particles which is washable in the dishwasher or laundry tub. The best and easiest to use have a media style disposable filter the collector that is replaced annually,” he says.
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Should I Buy An EAC?
If you don’t know whether or not you should get an air cleaner, listen to Keith’s sage advice.
“I always recommend that you buy your filter system based on your need. If you or family members are allergic to pollen, use a quality media filter. They are very effective at removing “larger” particles like pollen and pet dander,” he says. “But if you have a need to remove small particles like mold spores, viruses, tobacco smoke particles, etc., then you want an EAC.”
He suggests that if you or anyone in your family has bad allergies or another underlying health issue that can be affected by small particles in the air, then an EAC is definitely worth the investment.