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Media Filters VS Electronic Air cleaners

Media Filters VS Electronic Air cleaners
Posted on October 21, 2013
by Appleby Systems

With growing health concerns about indoor air quality, many homeowners are investigating electronic air cleaners or media filters to safeguard their families' health.

Indoor pollutants, including viruses, dust, bacteria, mold spores, pet dander, cockroach allergens, pollen and others, pose a variety of health dangers, so it is an intelligent choice to investigate a system to limit these impacts. But many are unfamiliar with the systems, and we’re often asked which the best choice is.

It is important for a homeowner considering buying an air purifier to understand how each type works and the benefits and limitations of each before choosing which type to buy, as there are very definite differences between an electronic air cleaner and a media filter.

Design & Function

The first obvious difference is in the design of the two units.

Media Filters

The media filter is basically a metal box containing a filter. The box is approximately 7” wide x 26” deep x 21” high, and the filter inside is approximately 5” wide 25” deep x 15” high. These are approximate because sizes vary with the manufacturer.

The media in the system is replaced regularly.

Electronic Air Cleaners

Electronic Air Cleaners consist of the metal box similar to the Media filter. The EAC is composed of a metal pre-filter, electronic cells and carbon filters (optional).

As the air passes through the prefilter the larger dust particles are removed. The electronic cells consist of a series of alternate wires and metal plates. The particles in the air receive a charge as they pass the wires and then they are attracted to the oppositely charged metal plates and are deposited on the plates. Finally, as the air passes through the carbon filters any organic particles are removed.

Person Changing An Air Filter On A High Efficiency Furnace Picture Id1308363658

Filter Replacement


With a media filter system, the filter should be replaced a minimum of twice per year. For example, at the beginning of the heating season and again at the beginning of the cooling season.

Every home will need to be evaluated to determine if the filter media needs to be changed more frequently. Homes with pets, especially those that shed large amounts fur, need to have the filter changed more often.

Electronic Air Cleaner

With Electronic Air cleaners, the prefilter and cells are cleaned and reused. The carbon filters cannot be cleaned and must be replaced.

What Indoor Air Pollutants Are Removed?

Media filters remove 99% of particles down to 0.3 microns (1/84000 of an inch). As the media filters build up with entrapped particles, harmful static pressure will be increased and effectiveness is compromised.

Electronic Air Cleaners remove 99% of particles down to 0.01 microns (1/2,540,000 of an inch), plus with Activated carbon filters installed they also remove odours. Common contaminants that can be removed are dust, pollen, dander, volatile organic compounds, many types of mould spores, some viruses and many species of bacteria.

No matter how dirty the electronic filter gets static pressure will not be increased. However, the cells do have to be cleaned to maintain efficiency.

Which System is Best?

In order of improved indoor air quality, there is the basic 1” filter; next the media filter; then the Electronic Air Cleaner providing the best efficiency and most improved indoor air quality.

If you’re interested in getting a quote on an air purifying system, contact us now.

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