Q&A: How Long Can HEPA Filters Last?

passport4adragon 提问: Hi, I’m in Shanghai and recently put together your DIY purifier and bought the same fan and filter you suggested – I think it’s working! A couple of questions – I bought the exact same filter you did on Taobao – how often should it be replaced if … Read more

DIY Filter Compared to Expensive Filters

UPDATE: I now have directly comparable data with the DIY Filter, Blue Air, and Philips: Direct comparison tests.

In earlier posts (1, 2), I showed that you can make effective an DIY filter to clean air pollution out of your home. But just because it is effective doesn’t mean it’s as effective as the Ferrari filters. How effective is the DIY filter compared to the expensive filters?

I’ll attempt to answer this question from several angles in different posts.

 

Comparison with Dr. Saint Cyr’s Test

Here’s one method: comparisons with the published data from the blog of the Beijing doctor Dr. Saint Cyr (which was an original inspiration for me that air purifiers could actually reduce air pollution). He ran tests of an 11,000 RMB IQ Air and a 6,000 RMB Blue Air. I used the same calculation of effectiveness and compared his results for the pricey machines with tests of my DIY filter. Here are the results:

DIY Filter comparison

To make the comparisons more precise, I compared my filter results only to the tests he reports from the IQ Air and Blue Air on max power in his smaller room.

Dr. Saint Cyr calculated reductions based on outside air quality, which I do not think is the best method. I think it makes more sense to calculate reductions based on the room air before and after using the filter because my room air is significantly cleaner than outside air, even before using the filter. But to make the data comparable, I calculated effectiveness using Dr. Saint Cyr’s method.

Now, the comparisons aren’t perfect. Dr. Saint Cyr’s smaller room is still 6.5 meters larger than mine. He also doesn’t say how long he ran his filters and whether the doors were closed. My tests were with the doors closed and overnight, so the filter had several hours to run.

(Update: via email Dr. Saint Cyr said his tests were with doors closed and testing times of 1 hour+.)

But even if the difference in room size bumps mine down 5% and the others up 5%, that would mean 11,000 RMB and 166 RMB get you similar results. To illustrate that, I calculated a graph of how much you’re paying for each percentage reduction in air pollution:

DIY filter cost per reduction

Of course, the ideal test would use all three filters in the same room with the same particle counter. To that end, I will hopefully get the chance to borrow a friend’s Panasonic filter and test it in my home. I’ll post those results when I get them.

 

Conclusion: A DIY Filter can be as effective

Although the comparisons are imperfect, they show that a DIY filter is at least roughly comparable to expensive filters at a far lower cost. This illustrates my larger point: all you really need to combat particulate air pollution is a HEPA filter. In fact, Dr. Saint Cyr found the same thing in his tests of a much simpler Hunter brand HEPA filter. In a room with the doors closed, his HEPA got 91% of the pollution–similar to what I found.

For data nerds like me, I’m posting more details on my data and methods here:

Test Details:

Read more

DIY HEPA Filter over Time

Does the DIY purifier work? Test results (1, 2) give a conclusive answer, but this series of pictures gives a visceral answer. I took a picture of the HEPA about every seven days for four weeks. Glad that black gunk’s not stuck in my lungs instead. In static form, here’s … Read more

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