Hart & Cooley, Grand Rapids, MI, has included polarization technology as its newest innovation in indoor air quality (IAQ) products.

Kevin Read, brand and product manager, SMART Air & Energy Solutions™ for Hart & Cooley, says the SMART EAC1000 polarized electronic air cleaner offers better results, and is much easier to maintain than electronic air cleaners that use older, ionization technology.

"The biggest issue with ionizing products is that their performance degrades over time," Read says, "and the only way to improve their performance is by maintaining them properly. However, what we've found is that the maintenance required to maintain those units is intensive."

"If you look at most original equipment manufacturer (OEM) manuals, you'll find that most ionizing air cleaners should be removed, soaked, scrubbed, and sometimes sanded, to remove deposits in the grids. And, most of the time, the end-users don't maintain them properly. The filters' performance drops off, and eventually, they're replaced by a paper media filter," he says.

Smart Air and Energy Solutions™ offers a filter grille and furnace mount electronic air cleaner (EAC) that provides high-efficiency air filtration. The EAC delivers 24KV of safe cleaning power while using less than 2 watts to remove 99% of the respirable suspended particles (RSP) from the air, which is up to 20 times the amount removed by conventional EACs, according to Hart & Cooley. Their air cleaner uses both positively and negatively charged grids. The space between the grids becomes an electronic polarization field. Anything passing through the field becomes bi-polar, or magnetic. A loose-weave media is placed between the positive and negative grids, and it attracts unwanted particles.

To clean, simply replace the dirty media filter with a new one.

"It was the easiest air cleaner to install in my 25 years in the industry," says Steve Arnold, owner/vice president operations, Arnold Air Conditioning, Sebastian, FL.

"When I first heard about it, I was skeptical, but when I installed it, I was floored by how easy it was. Customers don't have to pay hours for cleaning and maintenance, and they've been impressed with how much more debris is collected on the filter compared to other air cleaners.

"I sold the first SMART EAC1000 the day I heard about it, and expect it to sell well," Arnold says.

According to Read, another advantage to the SMART EAC1000 is its very low static pressure, even as it collects additional particles.

"The second complaint we hear about electronic air cleaners or paper media is that they have such high static pressure and restrict the air flow. The loose-weave media we use can still capture the smallest particle sizes, so we maintain a low static pressure initially, and then because of the way it loads we maintain low static pressure throughout the 6-12 month life of the media ."

The SMART EAC is designed with conductive plastic, rather than steel, which prevents arcing, sparking, and ozone, Read says. It comes in 26 sizes, to fit most standard filter grilles and air handlers, and it runs off of 24 volt thermostat wire. System testing was conducted by IBR Laboratories, which recorded a 99% particle capture rate, down to .1 microns.

As the IAQ segment of the HVAC industry continues to grow, with seemingly no end in sight to innovation, Read believes an educated consumer is one of the reasons why IAQ product manufacturers are on their toes.

"The average consumer has access to so much more information than they did 20 years ago. They can research what pollutants are in their homes and what can be done to remove them," he says. "They're asking contractors for solutions, and those requests are getting back to the manufacturers."

Read believes polarization technology will change the air filtration market significantly over the next five years.

"It's just a better way of doing something," he says. — Terry McIver