For as much as we talk about air filters here, we do tend to focus pretty strictly on filters for the home. The thing is, very few of us spend our entire days in the home. Many of us spend time every day in offices or warehouses or machine shops, shop in very large buildings, spend time in a variety of other buildings that are not our homes. As it turns out, the air we breathe in these places is every bit as important as the air we breathe when we’re home, if not more so. For this, there are a variety of commercial air filters designed to keep the air you’re breathing when you aren’t at home plenty healthy.
Washable Metal Filters
These are, in effect, large metal screens, usually made of aluminum or steel. They come in heavy duty and light duty models, and are intended to be cleaned as necessary. Much like washable filters in your home furnace, it’s important to keep them clean. Even still, because of the nature of their materials, they’re not terribly effective at capturing dirt and dust.
Grease Baffle Filters
Designed primarily for full service kitchens, grease baffle filters are used in vent hoods to suck grease out of the smoke that may rise when you’re frying something. This is extremely important when you’re consistently working around an open flame, as so many people working in the kitchens of restaurants do. They’re available in galvanized steel, aluminum, and stainless. They all work well, but some are more visually appealing than others.
Internally Supported Panel Filters
These are heavy hitters. Loaded with media and usually supported by a steel frame built into the filter panels, these are used in a variety of areas where air quality is important: hospitals, areas in which spray paint is often used, and industrial plants, for example.
Cube filters look a bit like a cloth trash bin lying on its side. The idea is that the cube filter, with more surface area, is able to catch more air particles and hold more dirt. They’re often used as prefilters or first stage filters for buildings that need to be kept particularly clean, like hospitals. The 3-ply version of the filter is made of three different densities that each collect smaller and smaller particles.
These are, much like the name implies, filters in the shape of a pocket or bag. In order to create more surface area in which air particles can be caught, pocket filters use a number of “bags” to catch particles in the air.
Rigid Cell Filters
In variable air volume systems, there are frequent changes in in air flow speed. For filters that aren’t rigid, that continuous high and low speeds can cause bending that reduces efficiency. Rigid cell filters are made of sturdy material that can stand up against varying air speeds and still maintain their efficiency.
MiniPleat V-Bank Filters
Much like pocket/bag filters, these filters use pockets of media to filter with more surface area. However, more like rigid cell filters, they come packed in a sturdier packaging to ensure that these filters stand up to the abuse of a VAV system.
Paint Spray Booth Filters
Spray paint can and absolutely will float through the air, and it’ll get into your lungs, too. If you don’t believe me, believe your black/blue/red phlegm that you cough up the next time you’re spray painting something in close quarters. For these instances, paint spray booths use a variety of special filters—many of which are listed above—packed with fine media to ensure that they catch as many paint particles as possible.