When it comes to air filters it seems the phrase “They Don’t Make Them Like They Used To” is truer today than it has ever been. With Self-supported pleated filters and coarse synthetic media taking over the industry the quality of filters has seen a steady decline as organizations transfer buying decisions from facility engineers to purchasing agents.
With that dynamic in-place the air filter industry responded with a race to make their products cheaper and cheaper so they can “win” the low price battle of contracts, bids, and co-operative purchasing groups.
The good news is there are 3 things you can require of your filter supplier that will ensure you get the high-quality product that will truly give your facility the lowest Total Cost of Ownership/Life Cycle Cost:
1) Life-Span Guarantee - How long a filter lasts will determine how many you have to buy every year. Some high quality products like the FARR 30/30 from Camfil carries a non-prorated, free replacement guarantee if they fail to last a certain amount of time, which can lower the total number of filters you buy every year equaling lower annual expenses. Not all of these guarantees are equal from manufacturer to manufacturer so make sure you ask for a non-prorated replacement guarantee if the filter doesn’t last as long as guaranteed.
2) Lifetime Efficiency Guarantee - With a laboratory not being a good representation of outside air, or how an air filter will act in Real-World conditions some air filter medias show good results in a lab test and be awarded a higher MERV than what it will achieve during actual use. Page 3 of ASHRAE 52.2 states this. Your air filter supplier should have a portable laser particle counter to verify their products performance and you should have them guarantee the performance and have them check once in a while to verify.
3) Comparative Energy Analysis - It’s amazing these days what data we can gather with testing equipment and then model performance. Again, filter suppliers should have some sort of energy modeling software to let you know how much energy different models/styles of air filters will use. Some of these software programs are very simple and inaccurate, while others are robust and incredibly accurate. As a general rule, if the model is based on multiple real-world data it is more reliable than a model based on lab tests or some mathematical equation on how a filter “should” work. Ask your supplier how the energy model was developed and if real-world testing was the basis or if it is just a calculator.