Posted: Mar 04, 2021
Air Purification Systems for the Entire House or Office

It is not difficult to install a whole house or whole office air purification system.  No, not a portable tower or box that sits quietly in a corner; but a system that tags on to and enhances the central air conditioning system and purifies the air for your entire living area or office work space. A quality of life benefit for your entire family. Such an air purification system has hospital quality credentials and can eliminate particulants, airborne bacteria, viruses, mold and pollen - 24 hours per day.

Filtration

 

Filtration - Air filtration is the process of removing airborne particles (dust, mites, pollen, toxins, etc.) through the use of an air filter installed on your air conditioner.  The filter traps and filters out airborne particles before the air gets sent through the duct system to each room in your home or workplace. Simultaneously, the filter keeps dust from entering the a/c air handler, allowing the system to operate at its highest efficiency. There are two main types of air filters:

  • HEPA (High efficiency particulate air)

HEPA is a pleated filter that can filter out 99.97% of particles that are 0.3 microns in size or larger, as small in diameter as a single human hair. A grain of pollen is about 5 microns.  Dust mites are often sized in the 1-10 micron range. A benefit of a true HEPA filter is that its efficiency improves over time. Only air conditioning units rated to work at a SEER 16 or higher efficiency level can use a HEPA filter successfully. Caution - there are many HEPA-like filters that use the same pleated design but do not provide true HEPA filtration.

  • MERV (Minimum efficiency reporting value)

MERV filters come in efficiency ratings from 1 (the lowest) to 18 (the highest and called an Ultra Low Particulate Air - ULPA). This range in ratings means that all air conditioners can use one of these filters to provide some filtration of the indoor air.

 

Note:  True HEPA filters can also be a component in an air purification system, room and whole house or office.

 

Purification

 

Purification - Air purification sanitizes the air by neutralizing airborne toxins (gases and off-gassing, bacteria, viral or fungal matter, toxic pathogens, etc.). Instead of trapping airborne particles as does a filtration system, an air purifier kills, neutralizes, transforms or otherwise renders airborne toxins harmless. Ultraviolet germicidal irradiation (UV) air purification is the most popular method to render these toxins harmless.

 

UV air purifiers replicate how the sun purifies air by using ultraviolet light waves. Exposure comes from germicidal lamps that emit germicidal UV at a 200nm to 300nm wavelength, resulting in the death or inactivitation of the organism.

 

There are two main types of UV air purifiers:

  • Portable room units

Portable units clean and sanitize the air in a specific area of space in your home or office. If you live in a very small space (<900 square feet) some portable room units may be able to treat your air effectively. The more rooms you have, the more portable units you need.

 

  • Central system units

Central system units work with your central HVAC and treat all of the air in your home. Most units treat the air at intake either in the A/C coil or in the air ducts. This way, any air that travels through the air ducts and reaches various rooms in your home or workplace will be sanitized.

 

Since a central UV air purifier takes advantage of the air circulation as it moves through your HVAC and furnace units, you need only one. There are central systems for smaller spaces (1,700+ square feet) and larger spaces (4,000+ square feet).

Room or HVAC Purification?

 

Before making this decision, remember, a purification system is not an optimum filter, and a filtration system is not an optimum purifier. Optimum air "cleaning" is obtained through the effective and simultaneous use of both a filtration and purification system.


The choice for room vs. central purification largely depends on the type of air conditioning used for the space. If the space is using a window or ductless system, then a portable room air purifier will suffice. If central air is used for the space, then central purification is best.


Let's look at a whole house air purification systems that installs alongside or inside the central a/c system.

Whole house air purification systems - filter

 

A whole house air purification system that ties into the central a/c system and uses a true HEPA filter for purification has the advantage of using the ducting network for whole house circulation but there are two disadvantges to this type of set up:

 

  • Most HVAC systems run according to the desired temperature of the house; therefore, purification occurs only when the HVAC is On.
  • HVAC systems, especially with SEER 16 ratings or less, operate most effectively with HEPA-like filters that are less constrictive then the true HEPA filters used in purification systems.  The "denser" true HEPA filter place an additional strain on the HVAC system causing it to run less efficiently and effectively.


You can install a filter-based purification system that operates parallel to your HVAC system where the purification system uses its own fan and true HEPA filters while using the duct system of the HVAC.  This allows both the HVAC and purification systems to operate independently; the HVAC set for temperature and filtering the air of dust by using HEPA-like filters and the air purification system using HEPA filters to purify the air of germs and viruses.

Whole house air purification system - UV

 

UV purification lights are an ideal and simple way to treat bacteria, viruses, and even mold, pesky devils that might live in the coils, ducting and drip pans of your HVAC system. UV light at specific wavlengths literally kills the pathogen. Generally speaking there are three methods for installing UV purification lights:

 

  • Duct installation - Stick and U-shaped bulbs that install into the ductwork. Easy to install and replace but total life cost might be higher due to replacements over time.
  • Coils installation - Stick shaped bulbs installed next to the evaporator coil of the air handler that run continuously and kill the mold and film that can build up over time
  • Air treatment UV lights - Stick shaped lights installed on the return side of the air handler which kill airborne microbes.

 

Preferred manufacturers? Honeywell, OdorStop, AirOasis and Fresh Air usually top the list from both installers and customers.

Cold plasma air purifiers

 

Cold plasma air purifiers use charged particles (ions) to eliminate bacteria, mold, and other toxic contaminants. Positive and negative ions attract the charges of harmful particles. As the ions and particles come together, the ions remove the hydrogen element from the pathogen and the pathogen dies. These tiny particles then clump together repeatedly until they are large enough to be trapped in a filter.

 

From luxury hotels, to schools and universities and meat packing facilities, plasma air technologies are effectively neutralizing particulate matter, bacteria and virus cells, odorous gases and aerosols, and VOCs.

Conclusion

 

The cleanest and healthiest air in your home or office comes from an integrated filtration and purification system.  The primary components of this whole house network are:

  • A filtration system using a HVAC rated SEER 16 or higher that uses a true HEPA filter.
  • A purification system using advanced technology that kills pathogens.
  • UV purification lights use tailored wavelengths to kill the pathogens.
  • Cold plasma air purifiers use ionization to kill the pathogens.
  • Above all, keep all filters clean and have an annual maintenance check of your entire HVAC system. 

 

The following Key West companies can help you with your HVAC needs:

  • Amanda Jorgensen at Debonair Mechanical, 305.744.0133, for cold plasma, ionization system installation and general HVAC service
  • Brenda Lazarus at SubZero, 305.294.9243, for UV and ionization system installation and general HVAC services.

 

If you have any comments or questions, please contact me here.

 

Good luck.

 

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