It’s common knowledge that HEPA air filters are some of the best on the market. However, when you try to buy one, you’ll discover that the HEPA standard is a lot more complicated than you think. So what exactly is the H13 True HEPA you’re seeing on air purifiers, and how does it compare to regular HEPA?
H13 True HEPA refers to the highest level of air purifiers that meet the HEPA standard. Generally, H13 HEPA filters can filter 99.95% of particles as small as 0.1 microns in diameter. Since it’s massively better than what you’d typically want at home, it’s commonly used in industries and medical facilities.
In this article, you’ll learn about the different HEPA air purifiers that you could get today. Also, I’ll dive deeply into the different levels of air filtering technology and the different scenarios where they’re optimal.
Are There Different Levels of HEPA?
There are standards for a HEPA air purifier: removing 99.97% of particles with 0.3mm in diameter. Unfortunately, since these benchmarks are hard to meet, many cheap air filters fail to meet the HEPA standard. However, this failure doesn’t prevent them from using “HEPA” in the product description.
However, manufacturers can’t use the term in isolation when describing an air filter that flunked the tests. To cover up for this, they use variations of HEPA; for instance, “HEPA Like” and “HEPA Type” to describe the product.
This practice creates a lot of confusion among buyers of these filters, as they mistake these terms to be HEPA. Consequently, there are many different levels of HEPA created circumstantially by misleading product descriptions by manufacturers.
Here are the most common variations of HEPA that you’re likely to see on an air filter:
When buying an air purifier for home use, you should endeavor to get one branded as True HEPA. True HEPA is a term used by manufacturers that commonly brand their products with numerous HEPA variants. True HEPA is only used on air purifiers that meet or exceed the HEPA standard, qualifying them for home use.
For a filter to qualify for the “True HEPA” standard, it must remove 99.97% of particles as small as 0.3mm. Therefore, of every air purifier with HEPA in the branding or product description, always check for “True HEPA” before buying.
Before talking about what UltraHEPA means, it’s crucial to discuss why it’s even a thing in the first place. While HEPA was the industry standard for air purifiers, regulators found no need to devise any higher standard. In short, HEPA is all you can use to describe your product, even if it meets and exceeds the standards massively.
As you can already tell, manufacturers weren’t pleased with this move, as it’s not adverts-friendly. So some manufacturers decided to coin specific names for air purifiers that exceed the HEPA standards to solve this problem. Most of these manufacturers referred to these filters UltraHEPA air purifiers.
While the name sounds fancy, no enforceable standards are required for an UltraHEPA filter. You can manufacture an air purifier that doesn’t meet the HEPA standard and slap it with an UltraHEPA description.
However, UltraHEPA air purifiers should be 100x better than regular HEPA filters, as the name suggests. In short, they should be capable of removing particles as small as 0.003 mm with a 99.97% accuracy. Since this sounds insanely better than regular HEPA, it’s no surprise to find manufacturers referring to it as UltraHEPA.
When you buy a HEPA Type filter, you’re trusting the company not to sell you a garbage product. HEPA Type is used when a filter fails the HEPA testing standards, but the company deems it good enough.
In most cases, air purifiers with HEPA Type on the description will be similar to True HEPA purifiers. However, that isn’t always the case, as manufacturers could also put HEPA Type on an ineffective product with no consequences.
Unless you have details of the scientific tests on the filter, you should stay away from anything marked HEPA Type. You should also pay far less for filters that aren’t as good as the standard. Summarily, HEPA Type air purifiers should cost significantly less than what you’d pay for one that’s compliant with the standards.
Like UltraHEPA, absolute HEPA is used to denote a filter that works better than expected of a HEPA-compliant filter. However, there are many differences between the average UltraHEPA and Absolute HEPA air purifiers to tell them apart.
While the former signifies filters that greatly exceed the benchmarks, the latter is just about the same as True HEPA. However, don’t expect an Absolute HEPA filter to be better or worse than your True HEPA filter for obvious reasons.
If you want an explanation anyway, no agencies enforce the Absolute HEPA standard because it doesn’t exist. So before buying an Absolute HEPA filter that costs significantly more, try to understand what you’re doing. Otherwise, you may inadvertently lose hundreds of dollars; this is not good.
HEPA Like is just like HEPA Type, in the sense that it’s a marketing term coined to confuse most buyers. It’s just an umbrella term for the phrase: “I flunked the test, but I’m good,” but with air purifiers. You can choose to either believe or discredit the manufacturers, but there are no standards for HEPA Like filters.
Honestly, most filters with HEPA Like in their descriptions are somewhat effective but usually overhyped. Always go with a True HEPA filter if you can afford one, as you’ll know exactly what you bought.
While these are the common variations of HEPA, they’re not the only ones by a long shot. I still haven’t talked about H13 True HEPA, which can be True HEPA, but significantly better. There are also many other unofficial phrases that manufacturers use to imply HEPA compliance.
What Is H13 True HEPA?
While most unofficial HEPA variants were coined to associate the term with filters that failed the test, H13 is different. Instead, it was created because the term “HEPA” was too general to describe insanely efficient air purifiers for industrial use. While it remains an unofficial standard, H13 usually refers to the highest end HEPA filters available at any given time.
To understand how efficient H13 filters are, it’s essential to review the requirements for an air purifier to be HEPA-certified. Any air filter capable of filtering 99.97% of 0.3mm particles qualifies to be referred to as a True HEPA filter.
A problem with this standard is its application, even if the filter cannot filter particles less than 0.3mm at all. This does a huge disservice to certain air purifiers designed to be ultra-efficient, as they get categorized with regular ones. H13 True HEPA filters are the response of most manufacturers to these apparent issues.
For an air filter to qualify as H13 HEPA, it must filter particles sized 0.1mm with no less than 99.95% accuracy. This is significantly better than the default standards for HEPA and doesn’t sound like what you need at home.
However, there’s a catch to this; the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has no divisions to enforce the H13 standard. In addition, this standard was unofficial to begin with, making it unrealistic for the agency to force manufacturers to meet the benchmark.
So, if you’re buying an H13 filter, you’re trusting that the manufacturer is honest enough to sell you something good enough.
As you might have already guessed, the H13 HEPA variant is only used in hospitals, operating theaters, and similar places. Those scenarios need clean air to ensure that life is not endangered from particle contamination. Thus, buying an H13 filter for home use isn’t only unnecessary and unusual.
Benefits of an H13 True HEPA Filter
Another common name for H13 filters is medical-grade air purifiers since they’re commonly used in medical facilities. Thus, they’re naturally more efficient than all other HEPA purifiers and sell at higher prices. In addition to that, there are several other benefits of an H13 HEPA filter.
Here are some of the benefits of a medical-grade H13 filter that should make you consider one:
Excellent Odor Reduction
It’s already common knowledge that air purifiers can reduce unwanted odors wherever they’re used. However, what isn’t common knowledge is the fact that odor reduction is directly proportional to the filter’s efficiency. Since none come close to H13 filters, you should expect second-to-none odor removal.
And as expected, these filters can remove the faintest smell from the air when used. So while the faintest smells may take more than a few hours to go, they’ll also go eventually.
Filters Harmful Particles
Viruses are tinier than what most air purifiers on the market can remove reliably. However, with the advent of medical-grade air filters like the H13 True HEPA, that has changed. Today, you can easily trap very tiny particles in a purifier, as long as it has H13 on the name or product description.
Many viruses are still beyond the reach of any air purifier, but they’ll certainly get that efficiently. When air filters can finally remove tiny particles, the standards for H13 air purifiers will also be improved.
Helps With Asthma
Asthma patients always try to manage their condition by installing an air purifier to keep triggers out. However, even with that precaution, it’s not unusual for patients to experience symptoms occasionally due to little escaping particles. Using an H13 True HEPA purifier leaves the least chance for such to happen, thanks to the insane filtering ability.
If you’re struggling with serious allergies or a condition like asthma, using an H13 HEPA air purifier should help. This is especially true if you’ve been using inferior HEPA Like systems that have been all but effective so far.
What Is The Difference Between True HEPA and H13?
The True HEPA standard is commonly used to refer to air purifiers that meet the HEPA standard. For emphasis, the HEPA standard requires air filters to eradicate at least 99.97% of particles of 0.3 microns. So naturally, H13 meets these benchmarks, but it also dials it up a bit.
H13 is not a standardized description for air filters since the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) doesn’t recognize it. However, manufacturers generally use it to describe air filters that greatly exceed the HEPA standards. Since I’ve explained what the requirement for the H13 is, you can read the preceding sections to learn that.
When you know the meanings of True HEPA and H13, it becomes relatively easy to determine what the differences are. The most fundamental difference is that H13 filters remove significantly smaller particles than True HEPA filters.
Another notable difference between the two is where you can commonly find them. True HEPA purifiers are the best option for home use, explaining why it’s prevalent in American homes. However, H13 filters are medical-grade, making it unlikely to find them outside hospitals and industries.
Also, while True HEPA is generally proficient at removing bacteria and larger viruses, it doesn’t work satisfactorily with smaller ones. However, H13 HEPA was explicitly designed for this task. With an H13 HEPA filter, you can filter any virus, as long as its fineness isn’t less than 0.1 micron.
What Is The Difference Between HEPA 13 and H14?
In a bid to confuse customers, some manufacturers mark some air purifiers as H14. However, you should ignore any device that’s described this way, as there is no industry-standard H14 filter grade. For now, the best you can get is H13, which filters particles as small as 0.1 microns.
If you have some technical know-how on the workings of air filters, you may consider buying an H14 filter. However, you’ll need to ignore the H14 on the product description and focus on the tests conducted with the filter.
If the air purifier can filter 99.97% of particles 0.3 microns large, it’s perfect for home use. However, you should opt for True HEPA if you’re finding it challenging to access helpful information about the device.