The majority of your utility bill is attributed to your heating and cooling system (about 65%), but the most minuscule part, such as an air filter, is so crucial in keeping the overall HVAC system operating efficiently. While also protecting occupants within the area the system is supplying air to. A dirty air filter can restrict airflow, simultaneously degrading the equipment over time. On the other hand, having the wrong filter installed or a filter not specked by the manufacturer can cause various problems such as airflow constraints and pose a risk as it may not be capturing all the harmful VOCs passing through your commercial HVAC system.
There are many air filters on the market that all aim to capture particles such as dust, mold, and aerosols but do so in different manners. American Society of Heating, Refrigerating and Air-Conditioning Engineers (ASHRAE) introduced updated guidelines regarding filters, signalling a transition to higher efficiency filters as a minimum requirement. The new minimum requirement for air filters is referred to as MERV (minimum efficiency reporting value) which is the new standard. Below we will outline the different types of filters that are acceptable under ASHRAE and the scenario under which these various filters fall under.
Starting with the new standard, MERV.
Essentially a MERV filter measures the filter's ability to remove dust and other particles from within the air. The ability of the filter is then ranked with numbers that showcase the filter's ability to remove particles, for example, there are MERV 13 filters which is the recommended standard for commercial facilities that capture particles at 0.3-0.1 microns. Similarly, there are also MERV filters ranging from numbers 1 through 20 all intended to remove particles but for different applications and different particle sizes depending on the application. To ensure maximum efficiency, if your system is capable of doing so, it's recommended to have a few MERV 5-12 installed as pre-filters with MERV 13 filters as the final filter in the system to capture everything. Like MERV, there are other ratings such as MPR, FPR that aim to rate the filters in the same way as MERV but just in a different manner. You should note that all these filters come in different variations for example a MERV 5 filter will most likely not be a pleated filter and won’t last as long as other MERV 13 filters. A MERV 13 which is pleated, is intended for longer use and is more durable and efficient than non-pleated. We recently posted a visual demonstration of how pleated and non-pleated filters perform against each other, give it a watch to better understand the differences.
MERV 1-5 are other common forms of commercial air filters that come in the form of fibreglass filters. The MERV rating for these types of filters is usually intended for pre-filter applications. These disposable and inexpensive filters are recommended for temporary use only, especially for larger commercial settings. These types of filters can only capture dust and debris, and fail to capture mold and other smaller particles, below 0.3 microns. It is important to note that fiberglass filters will not do much in terms of improving your facilities IAQ.
The last commercial HVAC filter and the most effective is the HEPA filter. HEPA is an acronym for High-Efficiency Particulate Arrestance, these have no rating because they exceed the performance of the highest-rated MERV filters. All HEPA filters have an efficiency rate of 99.97% at a 0.3-micron rating which sets them apart from the rest. These types of filters will last a long time around 12-18 months to be exact, although they may be expensive initially, they tend to pay off over time as they outperform and outlast the highest MERV filters. HEPA filters are ideal for any high traffic areas, medical and manufacturing settings, and are a good filter overall to install in any application due to their effectiveness. These filters are perfect for anyone who suffers from allergies and asthma and can have a drastic change on IAQ if you choose to install a HEPA filter.
Consult the experts at Service Experts before installing a new filter in your commercial HVAC system. We here at Service Experts are committed to giving you all the necessary resources and information to allow you, the client, to make an informed decision. Making the right choice in terms of filters is very important to you, your HVAC system, and your health. We deliver comfort here at Service Expert, experience it firsthand.