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Electrostatic air cleaner for HRV intake?

sfriedberg | Posted in Mechanicals on

I live in an area with a lot of airborne dust/dirt (nearby highway and railroad, among other sources) and have been quite pleased with the Honeywell electronic (electrostatic) air cleaner on my forced air furnace return. It removes significant quantities or dirt.

I intend to demolish the current house and rebuild in the same location in a couple of years, probably with an HRV system. Based on current experience with the site, I’m investigating the use of an active air cleaner between the HRV fresh air intake and the exterior intake vent. Not focusing on HEPA performance, activated carbon filtering, or hypo-allergenic anything, just bulk particulate removal. The HRV air handler would be in conditioned space accessible for routine filter maintenance.

To my surprise, I can’t find electrostatic air cleaner units intended for this application. Perhaps someone could suggest a brand or a better set of keywords for me to hunt for? A unit sized for a conventional forced air furnace would be gross overkill. Other than such excess, is there any reason a standard unit couldn’t/shouldn’t be (custom) ducted into the fresh air intake?

I’d also welcome other suggestions for dealing with scrubbing airborne dirt from an HRV fresh air intake.

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  1. GBA Editor
    Martin Holladay | | #1
  2. sfriedberg | | #2

    Thank you, Martin. I just gave Fantech a call, and their HRV filters are not powered, high-voltage electrostatics like a Honeywell cleaner unit uses. They are self-charging passive filters, just a very modest step up from plain metal mesh. Interestingly, their 2014-2015 catalog doesn't mention electrostatic filtering at all, so this may be an upgrade they've introduced by simply changing the mesh material. A chart I found somewhere rates this type of filter in the MERV 1-4 range, which is the sloppiest range of particulate filter ratings.

    However, Fantech also offers a (non-electrostatic) filter box FB6 for MERV 12-13 filters, which would be a pretty effective device if it's properly sealed against air leaks around the filter. Unless something comes on the market in the next year, I will probably go with a similar unit for HRV intake filtering.

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