HEPA Filtration - Fact from Myth. This HEPA Vacuum filter guide will review the pros and cons of HEPA filtration in vacuum cleaners. It will cover what exactly is HEPA Vacuum Filtration and the different kinds of HEPA Vacuum filtration. Most importantly, we will also cover the specifics of the kind of HEPA filtration vacuums that you DEFINITELY want to avoid.
At Great Vacs this is an email we get asked a lot: "my children have allergies which HEPA filtration Vacuum would be best for us?" There is a lot of misinformation on what HEPA filtration is, and hopefully this article will clear it up and help you understand the benefits of HEPA filtration.
All the quotes in this article were taken from an article in the August 2006 Floor Care Professional Magazine written by Frank Hammes, President of IQAir North America.
WHAT IS HEPA FILTRATION?
HEPA filtration basically is a type or rating of filtration. It is a standard of filtration that is just tighter than most filtration. Its function is to be so tight of a filtration that it keeps almost all dirt particles in the bag or dirt chamber while allowing the air out. "HEPA is a dense micro glassed fiber based filter paper which is tightly pleated for all surface area. The efficiency of a real HEPA air filter should be 99.97 percent for particles 0.3 microns or larger. HEPA in hospitals and clean rooms has been chosen for the distinct advantage of never re-releasing any captured particles - ever".
WHAT ARE THE PROS AND CONS OF HEPA FILTRATION?
The pros of HEPA filtration is you keep more of your dirt in the bag and out of your lungs. If you have a real HEPA filtration system that works like it should you should be able to cut down on dusting as well.
The cons of HEPA filtration system is it chokes down your power. The filtration is so tight that it will require more power to push through the HEPA filter. I would say a good rule of thumb is a vacuum cleaner needs to be designed to be used with a HEPA filter.
For example most big box HEPA filter vacuums were the same before HEPA filtration and when HEPA filtration became popular they just upgraded the filter to HEPA without changing much else. That would cause a loss of power and more leakage around seams and seals as the dirt "back tracks". "Many manufacturers are cutting corners when it comes to integrating filter media into vacuums and air cleaners. Many vacuums and air cleaners lose as much as 50 percent of their efficiency because of gaps between their filters and housing. A significant portion of the air bypasses the filter through the gaps and never gets filtered". So when the vacuum cleaner model is being designed it needs to be specifically designed to handle the HEPA filtration. For example when the KIRBY VACUUM was being designed for HEPA filtration (starting in the G6 model) they changed the Mini Emptor bag part which increases airflow through the dirt chamber. When the E series Rainbow Vacuum model came out with HEPA filtration they increased the power of the motor and had more airflow of cubic feet per minute. These are two examples of how good vacuums implemented HEPA filtration without losing performance.
ARE ALL HEPA FILTERS THE SAME?
No they are not. "The efficiency of most HEPA air cleaners, including so called "True HEPA" air cleaners can be as low as 50 percent. Air cleaner manufacturers...want to attract customers using the glitzy marketing term HEPA. It's a fact that over 90 percent of all air cleaners do not use the same glass fiber filter media that is used in hospitals and clean rooms. In an effort to reduce component costs, most air cleaner manufacturers are using a much less dense synthetic (usually polypropylene) as "TRUE HEPA". The inferior synthetic filter material allows them to get away with using less filter media and less powerful fans. They also get less efficient with usage, as opposed to glass fiber based HEPA which gets more efficient with usage." So another way manufacturers can add "TRUE HEPA" filtration to their vacuums without increasing the power and seals of the vacuum is to add a sub standard HEPA filter that is cheaper to produce and requires less power to push through.
HOW DO YOU PICK THE BEST HEPA VACUUM FILTRATION?
I have not taken a particle counter and tested every vacuum to tell you which is the best. It is safe to say that there are several that are bad and several that are good. In my humble opinion. A good rule of thumb, if you want great HEPA filtration stay away from the big box store vacuums. A vacuum that is on sale for 99 dollars is not going to have good HEPA filtration. You need to go with a higher end vacuum that is built to handle HEPA filtration. If a customer asked me what vacuum I would buy for the best filtration I would suggest the Filter Queen Vacuum. They have always been light years ahead of everyone else when it comes to filtration (thus the name). I think some other good HEPA filtration vacuums are the KIRBY VACUUM, RAINBOW VACUUM, LINDHAUS VACUUM, MIELE VACUUM, SEBO VACUUM and more.