For a long time, the most frequently used kind of air filter has been the mechanical variety, and it probably what you already have in your Orange County HVAC system. This is the kind you probably think of when you hear the terms air filter, air cleaner or air purifier. They use pleated fibrous filters in-line with an air handler to trap particles in the air before circulating it back out into the home.
Many models of these work very well and have for many years. They have the added benefit of being flexible because you can put in whatever filter you need depending on what size particles you need to trap.
However, these traditional devices are not the only option. A second kind of air filter exists for trapping particles in the air– one that does not use a fibrous filter that physically snags them out of the air on the way through.
These electrostatic — or electronic — air cleaners work in a different way to produce a similar result. The filtering component is still a fibrous sheet, but the difference is that the fibers are made of plastic, which becomes charged when air passes through it and causes friction.
(Think something like when you rub a balloon and stick it to the wall.)
These friction-charged fibers carry an electronic charge, which attracts the ions in the air around it. These ions — and the particles that they are a part of — get trapped in the fibers and stay out of your air supply.
Electronic air filters are generally very good at trapping particles that are 1 micron in size or higher, putting them about on par with a mechanical air filter that carries a MERV rating of 12. The electrostatic method works well for many common household air pollutants, such as dust, pollen, mold and pet dander.
As with many ventilation-related decisions, the choice of what kind of air filter is right for your Orange County air conditioning and heating system depends on your needs and those of your family. If you are having trouble deciding, then an air quality assessment and consultation with Saddleback Plumbing, Heating & Air Conditioning can be a good way to reach a decision.