Both staff and customers are happier, healthier, and more productive when the indoor air quality (IAQ) and temperatures are comfortable. Commercial buildings have a wide variety of available options when it comes to efficient air filter choices. So, if you manage or own a commercial building it can be challenging to determine which air filtration system you need to install or update. Approaching this subject requires some understanding of the various factors that will influence the efficiency of the air filters.
Professional Installation and Maintenance
These are the two primary factors that must be considered carefully to remove airborne contaminants from the indoor air to improve the IAQ. Installation and maintenance cannot be carried out by DIY enthusiasts or sub-par contractors to “save money”. This is a false economy, the perceived savings will pale in comparison to the efficiency losses that will cost far more in the medium to long-term. Both the installation and any essential maintenance and repairs must be carried out exclusively by local HVAC specialists. Before work begins the cost of the system, the operating conditions, and the effectiveness at eliminating airborne pollutants must be considered carefully. Making a final decision can be difficult and we will cover that process next.
Making Informed Decisions on Air Filter Efficiencies for Commercial Buildings
This process begins with the acquisition of accurate information on the variable that is needed to make informed choices on air filter efficiencies for a commercial building. There are a number of possible variations between the various air filter types, certain custom filters, and how they capture airborne particulates to clean the air. Air filtration can take place with a wide variation of effectiveness.
The goal of an effective air filtration system is to reduce the indoor air pollutants to protect the occupants from illness and a lack of motivation. Poor air quality is a known contributor to fuzzy headed thinking and poor concentration which can affect productivity. But, not all air filters are manufactured to the same standards and this is why it’s important to understand the Minimum Efficiency Reporting Value (MERV) rating. Every air filter has a MERV rating which ranges from 1 to 20 and the higher numbers remove more pollutants. The tradeoff is a decreased flow of air and the power requirements to force the air through denser filter media increases which lead to higher energy bills. So, it’s important to strike a balance between the capture of particulates and air resistance.
Understanding MERV Ratings
Let’s take a look at the broad MERV ratings to get a better idea of how they vary and what they can remove as they increase:
MERV 1-4: At this level, the air filters are inexpensive disposable fiberglass units that trap a few larger particles but most air and airborne pollutants simply pass through.
MERV 5-8: These are pleated filters and media panels that can remove certain particulates without affecting air flow too much.
MERV 9-12: At these ratings, we find HEPA filters and extended pleated panels that can be extremely effective at removing particulates.
MERV 13-16: The air filters in this range would include electronic filters that are specifically designed to remove certain particulates from the indoor air.
MERV 18-20: These air filtration systems require significant power to force air through the media and their use is limited to clean rooms, surgical suites, clinics, and more.
Choosing the correct MERV rating to meet your needs is advisable. It’s important to consider the installation costs, the operating conditions, and the air filter efficiency. When you understand these factors, it’s easier to make decisions to choose the optimal air filter efficiency to match the needs of your commercial building. The higher MERV ratings will increase the costs but the better filters may save you money in the long term because they need less frequent changes.
What is the Cost of a Commercial Air Filter System?
The price of a commercial air filtration system can be deceiving at first glance. All the related costs must be evaluated to establish the true cost of installation, operation, and maintenance. This includes the air filter costs, the maintenance fees, energy costs, and the often overlooked disposal fees.
A less expensive air filter may be a tempting prospect, but it can clog quickly and the system needs to work harder to force the air through the filter. This increases the operational expenses and the energy used. The gradual deterioration of the air filters will equate to a loss of performance over time. So, it’s likely that you’re going to replace them sooner rather than later.
A premium grade air filter will have a much higher initial cost and yet it will be a better investment in the medium to long-term. The best filters will not clog quickly, they tend to last longer before they need a change. When more frequent replacements are needed there are increased labor costs for the work and the disposal costs will be higher.
The Optimal Conditions for the Operation of Commercial Air Filter Systems
The EPA guidelines for IAQ recommend the consideration of building pressure when the efficiency of an air filtration system is evaluated. During the preparation to install a new system, it’s important to consider the holes in the building envelope. The architecture and building pressure correlations are important because cracks and holes cause air pressure variances and this will reduce the HVAC system efficiency. All heat producing equipment should be placed away from the HVAC sensor to avoid inaccurate readings. Support pillars and walls should not block vents that would impair the efficiency of the HVAC system.
Professional Consultation and Installation is Essential
To achieve and maintain commercial air filtration performance and efficiency, it’s important to seek expert advice. Cleaning may be required to prepare the areas where the installation will take place and the correct use of gaskets and clips is needed to prevent friction issues. The duct liners must be installed correctly to keep those areas dry to prevent mold growth. Grease left on ducts can create sticky surfaces where dust and dirt particles can be captured and this makes degreasing essential.
If you want to learn more about commercial HVAC systems, contact your local heating and cooling specialist today.