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According to estimates by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) indoor air pollution can be two to five times higher than outdoor levels. Not only that, some people spend up to 90% of their time inside. Small particles, defined as those .01 microns, cannot be expelled by coughing or sneezing. If they become stuck in the lungs they can have long-term negative effects on health.
There are a variety of air purifiers filters on the market that can remove small particles from the air through a home's HVAC system. A central air cleaner is usually installed in the return duct line. As the air handler takes in air through the return ducts, it must pass through the filter. There are different options for filtration method in home air purifiers, including mechanical or surface media filtration which uses layered, fibrous, pleated filters. These can also be made of HEPA air filters, providing greater efficiency. Another option is an electronic air cleaner which charges particles and pulls them from the air (this is also called an ionic air purifier or electrostatic air cleaner). Many filters are hybrids, combining mechanical and electronic filtration. The cost of a central air cleaner depends on the type of system, design, components and number of stages.
Central Air Cleaner Costs
- A mechanical/surface media (ESP) filter unit costs approximately $150 to $400.
- A HEPA air purifier unit can cost $500 to $1000.
- Electronic air cleaners can cost $500 to $2,500 or more.
- Typical 1-inch replacement furnace filters (most HVAC systems already have some kind of basic filter installed at a cost of $5 to $20.)
- A new ESP air filter costs $25 to $35.
- A replacement HEPA air cleaner filter costs $50 to $100.
- An electronic home air cleaner system will add an additional $25 to $100 per year to a home's utility cost.
- It may be necessary to install a more powerful fan in a furnace's air handler, as air filters create a pressure drop and lower the air flow.
- Installation could cost an additional $100 to $300 or more depending on your current system and the ease of implementation. This is not considered a do-it-yourself project.
Shopping For A Central Air Cleaner?
- Read an overview by the EPA about indoor air quality. They also have this report about residential air cleaners.
- Aprilaire, a major manufacturer of home air cleaners, offers a guide to central air cleaners.
- This report by a Doctor from North Carolina State University can help you decide if you home needs an air cleaner system.