One of the most important systems in your car is the one that regulates cabin climate. It’s called a climate control system and every car has one. Some climate control systems are more advanced than others, but they all play a significant role in how comfortable driver and passengers are when traveling. If the climate control system in any car isn’t working properly, anyone riding in the car is going to notice it right away. One small component that can have a major impact on climate control performance is the cabin air filter.
These days there is a lot of discussion regarding cabin air filters and their importance in modern vehicles. And for good reason – the cabin air filter in a car plays an important role in keeping driver and passengers comfortable while traveling. Consumer awareness of the cabin air filter and its importance has improved recently, but most of the focus has been on the efficiency of these filters and how well they reduce airborne contaminants in the cabin. Something we never hear much about, however, is the impact that extremely high efficiency of a cabin air filter has on air flow through the climate control system. As you can imagine, good air flow through the system is especially vital in very hot or cold climates. Without it, the air conditioner won’t cool as effectively, the windshield might fog up or passengers won’t be kept as warm as they should be.
Don’t Sacrifice Climate Control Performance
HEPA certified cabin air filters are widely regarded as the best high-efficiency option for trapping the most allergens, dust particles and other contaminants. These filters are constructed with an ultra-fine, glass-fiber material that stops microscopic particles. To meet the minimum requirements for HEPA certification, the filter must be tested to prove its ability to catch 99.97% of particles at 0.3 microns in diameter. Unfortunately, at 99.97% efficiency, even air itself has trouble getting through the media. What good is the cabin air filter if it completely disrupts the core function of the climate control system? That’s right – it’s no good at all.
Balanced Approach: A Little Efficiency for Big Airflow
We all want a filter that is going to catch as many airborne contaminants as possible, but it’s important to understand that extremely high efficiency does more harm than good in a car’s climate control system. A HEPA cabin air filter is so obstructive that it will cut airflow up to 50%, as reported by many users of HEPA filters purchased on Amazon.
If you live in a hot climate, you’re going to immediately notice if the filter is too obstructive because the climate control blower motor won’t have the power to push air past the cabin air filter. You could also find yourself in a situation where the filter caves in under the pressure of the blower motor, allowing all air contaminants, dust, and allergens through while causing expensive damage to the system.
In this situation, it’s reasonable to trade a small amount of filter efficiency for a huge improvement in airflow. Summer is coming and on those humid 95º days, you’ll appreciate the extra oomph from the dash vents.