For years, industrial-grade vacuum cleaners generally relied on a basic filter to catch dust. However, these filtration systems only captured larger particles that were clearly visible to the naked eye. However, then along came HEPA filters in vacuums, and suddenly the ability to pick up and capture fine particles became really practical and possible, which is particularly advantageous for folks suffering from allergies and specific indoor contaminants that can trigger reactions.
Nowadays, everyone seems to be offering a HEPA-filter vacuum, making it challenging to figure out which choice is really worth one’s time and money, and which one should be passed over. Fortunately, there are a couple aspects that people can look for to narrow the field to high quality choices that really do the job in catching pollutants.
The first factor to look for starts with the HEPA filter itself. A true HEPA filter system will incorporate a two-layer system that, combined, filters out particles as small as 0.3 micrometers. In practice, this produces a cleaning, capture and filtering of vacuumed air to as much a 99.97 percent particle-free. This matters for those with high sensitivity or allergies because it’s the very fine particles that can get into the nose and lungs, triggering reactions and making life unbearable. Asthma sufferers, low-immunity patients, throat and respiratory cases and more are all affected directly by such materials in concentration. Worse, the primary creator of the allergens most people react to tends to be dust mites’ feces, which is very close to a few micrometers in size. So, if a filter can’t even compete at this level, it’s not a HEPA quality system and shouldn’t be considered.
Among HEPA filters used, there are high quality, standard and minimum quality. The highest choices tend to be those fabricated to meet European Norm 1822 or EN 1822. This is provided in the vacuum and HEPA filter certification number. They also go by the name of S-class filtration. For the most part, equipment buyers are probably not going to see this option unless they go out of their way to find it. The EN 1822 format is generally reserved for sensitive environments, labs, and similar.
System integrity is the second big factor in a high-quality HEPA vacuum. What’s the point of having an HEPA filter if the vacuum leaks out air before the pressure goes through the filter, and the particles recirculate back into the person’s environment, just agitated a lot more now? Air leaks, gaps and poor-fitting equipment make a HEPA filter useless. This can happen quite frequently with poorly assembled vacuum cleaner body components, especially the hose parts.
The ideal system offers a 100 percent containment of particles once they have been vacuumed up. The only thing escaping should be filtered air that has only gone through the HEPA filter itself. To confirm this is the case, the entire vacuum assembly has to be certified to an EN 1822 standard, not just the filter component. Reviewed through independent industry testing, the certification is confirmed by independent third parties versus the manufacturer itself.
There will be, unfortunately, a forest of marketing gimmicks to wade through. Various alterations of terms can be easily found, including everything from Green HEPA to True HEPA to Advanced HEPA to even the ludicrous, Double HEPA. All of these are simply made-up slogans and titles to put on the side of packaging with the hope of catching someone’s attention and making a sale. In fact, none of these so-called qualities even come close to being a functional filtration aspect. Worse, when the filter is actually examined in some of these packages, it’s quality may not even meet old pre-HEPA minimum industry standards. And with advanced global trade, things have only gotten worse over time.
Market substitutes will also try to compete, and these can confuse the selection field a bit. In some cases, the quality of non-HEPA vacuums is fairly close, producing a 99.95 percent filtration level. However, it doesn’t match a HEPA quality, allowing particles through that could be smaller than 0.5 micrometers. They tend to be less than a true HEPA filter, and they will attract the attention of budget-conscious consumers on a regular basis.
Avoid used vacuums as well. With high-end used units, the temptation might be sizable to realize considerable savings, assuming just the HEPA filter itself just needs to be replaced. The fact is, wear and tear can have a considerable cost on the effectiveness of a machine, eventually breaking down its complete seal that one could otherwise expect from a new version of the same machine. While overall the machines may still be very effective at cleaning, they will likely fall into the same category as non-HEPA filtered machines with deterioration of their components.
Again, the EN 1822 standard for the entire vacuum assembly is really the best choice where possible if contaminants and allergens are a real challenge in a workplace. The equipment involved will likely be on the high end of the market range given the need to pass a full certification, but the effectiveness will also be dependable and consistent cycle after cycle.