What Makes a Good HEPA?
Although every manufacturer has certain features or characteristics that distinguish their products from the competitors, there are certain fundamentals that need to be considered when purchasing a HEPA filter.
1. Efficiency: Although all HEPA filter products on the market claim to meet the HEPA standard of efficiency (99.97% @ .3 microns), very few actually do. As a matter of fact, we are currently only aware of one other residential brand other than Amaircare that delivers true HEPA results. How can this be true? Quite simply, most products on the market contain a rated HEPA filter in them, but they fail to provide a proper seal between the filter and the cabinet. This lack of a proper seal allows tens of thousands of particles to go around the filter instead of through it. Some HEPA brands can't even reach the 90% efficient level.
Amaircare tests every single unit that comes off their assembly line with a .3 micron particle counter to ensure they meet the true HEPA standard. If a unit fails to meet the standard it is rejected and not shipped. Recently Amaircare has introduced their Perfect Seal standard, which is your assurance that Amaircare delivers true HEPA results every time, all the time.
2. Air Delivery: Frankly, most manufacturers mislead the consumer about the amount of air their units can deliver.. and some of them tell whoppers! As a matter of fact, many manufacturers overstate the amount of air they can move by 100%! How? It's quite easy; they just measure their units without the filters installed! So the air flow rating you get is actually the motor specification without any resistance. Did you ever notice that some units are quieter than others even though they state the same air-flow? Well, the quieter ones are usually delivering much less air volume than they claim.
Amaircare delivers the air volume. When they state their air volumes, it's with all of the standard filters installed in the unit.
3. Carbon filters: Carbon is a very effective way of removing odors and gasses from the air. Most manufacturers offer some amount of carbon as standard equipment with their HEPA filters. Some use a little and some use a lot. When you are considering carbon, it's helpful if you can imagine it working as a sponge works with water. A large sponge can absorb more water more quickly than a small sponge. When it gets super-saturated, it releases some of the water it has absorbed. With that in mind, most carbon blankets that are carbon canisters can last up to a year. Beware of manufacturers that claim their carbon canisters will last as long as their HEPA filter (several years). These claims are simply not true. After their lifespan ends, they begin to act as an impediment to the HEPA filter. Worse— they can potentially release chemicals back into the air!
Amaircare uses carbon blankets as standard equipment on all of their units, and gives the customer the option to upgrade their unit with a VOC canister. Because carbon canisters have a service life of about a year (on average), we believe this is the most effective and honest way to deal with this issue. Amaircare values its reputation, and they want to preserve their status as not only a leading manufacturer, but also as a resource for the most expert HEPA and IAQ knowledge in the industry. Making false claims about carbon filter life will only serve to damage their reputation (and ours).
4. Unit offgassing: Have you ever noticed that most of
the lower quality air cleaners on the market are usually made
from mold injected plastics? Making units out of plastic is certainly
a cost-effective way to produce air cleaners, but it does have
some potential drawbacks. Plastic is often a source of VOCs
(volatile organic compounds), and considering that VOCs (odors
and gasses) are something you want to remove with your air cleaner,
it seems odd to make a unit from plastic.
Another potential source for VOCs are the glues and adhesives used in the manufacturing of the actual HEPA filter. Since most manufacturers buy their filters from a third party, it's difficult for them to know what is actually in their filters. Finally, another potential source for VOCs are the motors and fans that are used in HEPA filters. Often these motors and fans are covered in a fine film of oil to protect them in the warehouse shipping process. Additionally, sometimes the motor bearings are actually overpacked with grease, which can fly off of the unit when it begins spinning.
Amaircare makes their products from cold-rolled steel, and uses a baked-on powder coat finish to help eliminate any potential VOC emissions from our cabinets. Amaircare manufactures their own HEPA filters in-house, and uses only Food Grade Plastic instead of plastic in the manufacturing process. This process is designed to reduce VOC in our filters. Also, Amaircare carefully examines every motor that gets installed in their units to ensure that there aren't unnecessary lubricants on the motor or the fan.
These are just some of the quality checks that Amaircare uses to ensure their units are the best on the market.
If you'd like to see some visual evidence of how many air filtration units on the market are deficient in their HEPA efficiency, Vitasalus is making available to you some of their Particle Counter Tests.