Cabin air filters exist as four main types. Each type cleans the air different, with some removing even odors. They are:
1. Particulate Cabin Air Filter
The particulate filter consists of a filtration medium, which is usually a porous fibrous material.
It traps particles 0.3 microns and larger such as dust, pollen, and other debris.
The particulate filter is the most basic or regular type of filter and does not remove ultra-fine particles.
That means it allows odors and gaseous pollutants like carbon monoxide to pass through.
2. Charcoal Cabin Air Filter
A charcoal filter is more effective than the particulate filter.
It comprises the normal porous material as the main medium and a layer of charcoal to absorb microscopic contaminants.
The charcoal provides a surface to absorb gaseous pollutants.
In addition to the large particles, a charcoal cabin air filter also removes smoke and unpleasant odors such as exhaust fumes.
3. Activated Carbon Cabin Air Filter
An activated carbon air filter is made up of conventional filtration medium and a layer of activated carbon or charcoal.
Activated carbon is simply a special type of charcoal whose properties to absorb gases are higher. The material is usually produced by heat-treating charcoal and impregnating it with chemicals.
These chemicals enable the charcoal to remove fumes and odors from the air using a process called adsorption.
These types of cabin air filters are more efficient and eliminate harmful gaseous pollutants such as carbon monoxide.
An activated carbon cabin air filter also removes bacteria and other microorganisms from the air.
4. Electrostatic Cabin Air Filter
This type of filter uses static charge to trap pollutants.
As the air passes through the filter media, layers of electrostatically charged fibers attract pollutants.
Electrostatic cabin air filters are effective at removing both particulate matter and odors. They rid the air getting into the cabin of dust, pollen, spores, smoke, and fumes.
These types of filters also remove odors and bacteria.
Carbon Air Filter Vs. Regular Air Filter
In terms of health benefits, the carbon air filter is way better. It removes odors from the air entering the cabin, making it more pleasant to breathe.
As a result, the occupants of a vehicle experience rides that are more comfortable and the driver can control the vehicle more safely.
If you carry kids or the elderly in your vehicle, it’s essential to have a carbon cabin air filter. The respiratory systems of these people are more prone to the dangers of harmful gases.
Having a carbon filter minimizes that risk. Also, if you or any other passenger suffers from allergies.
Carbon cabin air filters are not without downsides. They’re more expensive than standard filters both in the short and long term. They carry high price tags, plus they need replacing more often than the regular types.
The regular cabin air filter only captures particles. It doesn’t remove orders or harmful gases.
As a result, it’s not the best type of cabin air filter if allergies are a problem. It’s only suitable if the air is relatively clean with no unpleasant smells or fumes.
An advantage of standard cabin air filters is that they are cheaper than the carbon types. Costing as much as three times less, regular cabin air filter are more economical.
However, using them in highly polluted driving conditions can expose you and your passengers to health risks
When to Use Carbon Cabin Air Filters and When to Use Regular Types
As a vehicle owner, it’s essential to understand conditions that require you to equip your car with what type of cabin air filter.
It helps you to make a wiser choice depending on the driving conditions in your area.
If your driving areas are major urban areas or in slow-moving traffic, a carbon air filter would be more advisable. Despite the high price, these filters will remove the common gaseous pollutants that could enter the cabin through the ventilation vents.
These include carbon monoxide, nitrogen oxide, and other contaminants.
What’s the Expected Lifespan of Each Type of Cabin Air Filter?
Auto experts recommend that motorists replace carbon cabin air filters at least once every year if they expect to have a functional filter at all times. That translates to less than 12 000 miles.
The standard cabin air filter can be replaced between 15 000 and 30 000 miles depending on the driving conditions.