HEPA Filters: Are They the Right Filter for My Building?

There’s no question we’re treading in uncharted waters when it comes to the COVID-19 Pandemic and our industry’s response to it.  Over the past few weeks, the filtration industry has been riddled with requests to supply upgraded products to clients who are looking to protect themselves from this Virus.  One of the specific requests we’ve been receiving a lot of is swapping out standard cap MERV 8 pleats for HEPA filters.  Most likely, someone, somewhere said “HEPA’s offer the Best filtration, We need HEPA’s Everywhere!”  While this sounds like a great idea, there are quite a few things to consider:

  1. What is a HEPA? HEPA (High Efficiency Particulate Air) are filters that have a minimum efficiency of 99.97% on a micrometer particle size.  These products are NOT necessarily rated as part of the MERV Rating system, but follow a separate set of rules and guidelines. 
  2. Uses of HEPA’s : HEPA uses range from Medical and Laboratory to Aerospace, Pharmaceutical, Bio-Tech, and Semi-Conductor.  HEPA’s are not generally found in Commercial / Administrative building Space. 

Some Additional Notes to understand

  • Most (if not all) FILTERS ARE NOT MADE TO FIT IN A 2” FILTER Rack – The Minimum thickness on a Compact HEPA is 2.88” Exact, these are designed for HEPA Terminal Units (used in operating and clean rooms)  They don’t come in standard sizes. 
  • HEPA filters weigh significantly more than Pleated or HI Efficient Box or Bag filters.  This can  damage the filter rack (If it were to fit in the first place)
  • HEPA filters are designed to filter air in a LOW FLOW application (up to 500fpm), where most system are designed to run at 500FPM and higher. 

There are a number of products that will offer very high efficiency ratings (MERV 16 V-Style filters can give you upwards of 98%, in comparison to a HEPA’s 99.97%).  In fact, some items will give you a higher filtration than a HEPA simply because the design of the system will better accommodate the V-Style Filter than the HEPAs. 

An important note to make here is the following sizes have the following highest MERV ratings:

  • 1” Pleated Filters have the Highest Rating of MERV 13 HC
  • 2” Pleated Filters have the Highest Rating of MERV 14 MINI PLT
  • 4” Pleated Filters have the Highest Rating of MERV 15 MINI PLT

For more information on MERV ratings, click here.

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