A HEPA filter is a type of pleated air filter used in homes around the country. The acronym stands for High-Efficiency Particulate Air. The EPA explains that a HEPA filter can effectively remove at least 99.97% of the dust, pollen, mold, and bacteria that enter your home.
If you suffer from allergies, then using a HEPA filter can radically transform your home’s indoor air quality (IAQ) and could improve your symptoms. However, anyone can benefit from this simple upgrade.
Today, we’re taking a look at the different types of HEPA filters available on the market. This way, you can make a more informed buying decision as you shop for one.
Understanding HEPA Standards
Before we dive into the different types of filters, let’s review how the HEPA verification process works. While there are many different types of filters available in the store, not all are designated as HEPA models.
In fact, due to clever and careful wording, some brands have marketed their filters to look like HEPA ones, when this isn’t the case. A few of the most common terms you may encounter include:
- 99% HEPA
While these labels might appear valid, they’re evidence that the filter doesn’t actually meet HEPA standards. For homeowners, this means that they may or may not meet the golden rule of HEPA filtration, which requires all products to effectively capture 0.3-micron particles. This is known as the most penetrating particle size or MPPS.
For perspective, it helps to know that a single strand of human hair measures around 75 microns in diameter. Likewise, pollen particles are equally sizeable, at roughly 100 to 300 microns each. However, viruses are much smaller and difficult to catch, as some can be smaller than 0.1 microns.
A HEPA filter’s ability to capture large particles between 0.3 and 10 microns is known as its Minimum Efficiency Reporting Value, or MERV.
All HEPA filters undergo independent testing to ensure that they can perform to these standards. While a competing filter might do a fine job, it’s unlikely that it will be able to filter out 0.3-micron particles as well as a HEPA one would. To set their products apart, authentic HEPA filters are labeled as “True HEPA”.
H10 HEPA Filters
HEPA filters are graded, or ranked, based on effectiveness. The lowest grade is an H10. While it might seem as though this filter is the lowest-quality one on the list, keep in mind that it’s still highly effective at removing most pollen, dust, and allergens from your air.
Plus, it’s higher-performing than an inauthentic HEPA product. Even H10 HEPA filters undergo extensive independent testing and validation to make sure they perform to industry standards. Like the other HEPA filters on this list, H10 filters are comprised of a special type of fiberglass or filter paper, formed into small folds to increase the overall surface area.
If you’re looking for a new H10 HEPA filter, then check outsources both online and in-person. A site like Discount Filters can be a one-stop shop for all your filtration needs.
H11 HEPA Filters
An H11 HEPA filter is a step above an H10 model. The fabric is slightly denser and it can trap smaller particles at a higher capacity.
In some cases, an H11 HEPA filter can be used alongside a UV light to capture and kill a higher percentage of invading microbes. Note that these filters are typically sold at a slightly higher price point than H10 filters.
H12 HEPA Filters
As you might expect, an H12 HEPA filter improves upon an H11 filter, but the difference is negligible. Like the other filters on this list, an H12 model is made of tightly-woven microscopic glass fibers. When constructed together, those fibers form a paper-like surface that traps almost all dust and allergens as they pass through.
H13 HEPA Filters
An H13 HEPA filter is considered medical-grade, and will often be labeled as such. This is a special and advanced type of filter that is most commonly used in hospitals and other healthcare settings. Other places you might find an H13 HEPA filter include:
- A/V control rooms
- Pharmaceutical manufacturing facilities
- Operating theaters
While True HEPA filters are capable of filtering out 0.3-micron particles, H13 HEPA filters take this capability one step further. These filters can remove 99.95% of particles that are as small as 0.1 microns!
While these filters are typically reserved for environments that must maintain strict IAQ levels, they can be appropriate for residential use, too. If indoor allergens particularly bother you, then you may consider upgrading to an H13 HEPA filter. They can be used with standard HVAC systems to dramatically lower the number of airborne pathogens in your home.
H14 HEPA Filters
While H13 HEPA filters capture up to 99.5% of 0.1-micron particles, H14 HEPA filters will remove up to 99.995%. This offers a little more protection, which can make a major difference to some homeowners or business owners.
Upgrading Your Filtration System
Some homeowners may wonder if they can retrofit a new HEPA filter onto an existing HVAC system. While this might be possible in some circumstances, it isn’t always easy. This is because the filter element in a HEPA product is more highly pressurized than you’ll find in competing designs.
Instead, it can be more effective to install an air recirculation unit onto your existing system. Then, add an H13 or H14 HEPA filter onto that unit to safely recirculate the air inside your home.
Choose the Right Types of HEPA Filters
Optimizing the indoor air quality in your home can help you breathe easier and sleep more soundly. Now that you know the different types of HEPA filters on the market, you can choose the one that’s best designed to meet your needs.
For more insights, speak to a trusted HVAC professional about your options. This expert will be able to guide you in this important purchase and can recommend certain types of filters above others.
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