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Does My Home Need a Whole House Media Air Cleaner?

If you’re considering buying a media air cleaner to improve the indoor air quality in your Birmingham, Alabama, home, you have options. There are several makes and models of whole house and portable models available on the market.

Some homeowners struggle selecting the right fit for their needs – is a whole home model really the better option, or will a portable unit or standard furnace filter do just fine? The indoor air quality pros at Douglas Cooling & Heating discuss the pros and cons of whole house media air cleaners to help you compare this wider-coverage option against the alternatives.

What Is a Media Air Cleaner?

Media air cleaners use an advanced filter media to trap contaminants, removing them from circulation within the home. Whole home media air cleaners offer improved filtration of airborne contaminants versus a standard furnace filter. Compared to a 1-inch filter, they’re up to 40 times more efficient depending on the model. A whole home media air cleaner is installed to work directly with the home’s HVAC system, treating all air as it circulates for heating and cooling.

Pros and Cons of Whole Home Media Air Cleaners

As with any device, whole home media air cleaners have advantages and disadvantages.


  • Treats the home’s entire volume of circulating air, unlike a portable air purifier that is only capable of treating air within a limited area.
  • Media air cleaners that use a HEPA filter are up to 99 percent effective at trapping and removing microscopic contaminant particles, including mold spores, dust, pollen, pet dander and other common contaminants.
  • Whole home media air purifiers are lower maintenance than their portable counterpart or even a standard 1-inch furnace filter, requiring just a simple filter change or cleaning one to two times per year, depending on the model.
  • While portable air cleaners require electricity to operate unit fans in order to circulate air through, a whole home media air cleaner uses the HVAC system fan to cycle air through its filter media. Whole home models use no electricity and do not contribute extra noise from a dedicated unit fan.
  • Filters for use with a media air cleaner offer higher MERV ratings than that of the typical 1-inch standard filter. The media air cleaner’s filter is much thicker with far more space to collect contaminants than a 1-inch filter of the same MERV rating.


  • Some whole house media air cleaner models use reusable, washable filters instead of disposable filters. The need to wash the filter does increase the amount of maintenance the homeowner must perform.
  • Without its own dedicated fan, a whole house media air cleaner only works to filter out airborne contaminants while the HVAC system runs unless you turn on the system fan, which increases electricity costs.
  • Whole house media air cleaners aren’t appropriate for use with all residential HVAC equipment. The thickness of certain models restrict airflow through some furnaces and air handlers, which creates discomfort, excess energy consumption and more wear on the HVAC system.

Improve Indoor Air Quality with Douglas Cooling & Heating

Your home and household could experience great benefits through the installation of a whole house media air cleaner, especially if you have household members sensitive to certain allergens. Improve indoor air quality without the hassle when you choose the whole home solution versus the alternatives. Contact Douglas Cooling & Heating today to learn about the media air cleaners we offer and schedule a free estimate for installation.

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