ANSWERED: When Is the Best Time to Replace Your Carbon Filter?
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Having a grow room is one solution to develop cultivars under specific conditions. Factors such as temperature, humidity, amount of hydration, and lighting are just a few among the things that can be carefully regulated by the grower. These will help the grower achieve its desired growth outcome.
One way to ensure this from happening is through the use of carbon filters or scrubbers. The importance of a carbon filter in a grow room is imperative. This facilitates the air purification and odor neutralization within the enclosed space. The filter keeps the room free from debris, dust, pollen, mold spores, volatile compounds, airborne pathogens, and others. They might affect the growth of the plants.
But, like any other cleaning devices, carbon filters can only do so much for your grow room. Until such time it reaches most of its lifespan. In this article, we will discuss when is the best time to change or replace the air filters for your space. Furthermore, we will also tackle the procedures involved in installing a carbon filter.
How does carbon filter work and how to recognize if it is no longer working?
To start the discussion, let us first briefly tackle how does a carbon filter basically works and how to identify when is it not working anymore.
Oxygen-treated charcoal or referred to as activated carbon is used. The primary mechanism of air purification via a carbon filter is through a process called adsorption. Whereby, the bed of carbon efficiently draws in the unwanted odor, airborne contaminants, and certain organic compounds. They tend to circulate in the immediate surrounding of an enclosed space.
On the other end of the story, you can also tell if the carbon filter’s function is no longer effective. The most obvious sign is when you are starting to smell the odor. That means that the carbon is no longer being able to absorb and trap the smell within the grow room. Thus, indicating the need for replacement.
There may also be times though that the growers themselves won’t be able to detect the odor. They get too used to the smell that it already becomes normal for them. In this case, it is helpful to ask someone else less familiar to do some sniffing on your behalf.
How long does a carbon filter last?
Different brands and types of carbon filter kits may present diverse recommendations when it is ideal to replace them. Besides, it is generally best to change carbon filters every after 18 to 24 months of regular usage. And by that, it means when your ducting system is operating 24/7. But, the lifespan is expected to last even longer when the demand for filtration is lesser as well.
The table below shows the suggested lifespan of the carbon filter and other types of air filters:
|Type of Filter||Lifespan|
|UV lamps or bulbs||12 months|
|Carbon foam filter||6-12 months|
|Activated carbon filter||12 -24 months|
|Non-sealed HEPA filter||6 – 12 months|
|Sealed HEPA filter||24 – 60 months|
Read Also: Easy DIY Carbon Filter for A Grow Room
What are the factors affecting the lifespan of the carbon filters?
The carbon filter will continue to deliver effective results until the filter media becomes full. There are various considerations affecting the longevity of the carbon filter. Certain factors may include the following but not limited to; quality of carbon used, level of humidity, filtration demand, nature of the cultivars, and many other contributing elements within your plantation area.
- Carbon Quality
The carbon filter depends on the carbon material itself to purify the air. Thus, the form and type you opt to use will have a direct correlation to its effectiveness.
There are different types of carbon available in the market but not all are as efficient for adsorption of contaminants. In this project, the activated carbon is widely known to be the most effective for this job.
There are two types used for air filters, the Pelletized and the Granulated activated carbon.
The pelletized carbon comes denser and more uniform in shape. Thus, it is heavier and comes with lesser pores. The granulated activated carbon, on the other hand, appears as a loose grain measuring up to 3mm in size. It is lighter in density. Hence, it is more capable of covering more surface area per gram than the pelletized version.
- Carbon Density
Another important physical property to look out for is the actual density of the carbon. The idea here is that the lighter the density, the more pores it will have. Thus, the better is the capacity of the carbon to adsorb.
The typical carbons available have a density that ranges from 30 to 60 grams per cubic centimeter. Denser carbon tends to have narrower pores. It leaves with a lesser room to accommodate filtrates. The limitation in space makes it more prone to clogging that diminishes the lifespan of the filter.
Meanwhile, carbon with lighter density features wider pores. The structure is spacious enough for small and large particulates to get trapped inside the carbon. On that note, this is more ideal for filtration purposes.
One drawback of activated carbon is its decreased efficiency of air purification. When exposed to a very humid environment, it doesn’t purify the air well. That is because the charcoal has tendencies to draw in moisture. Given that scenario, the carbon’s pores are filled with more water. Instead of trapping the airborne contaminants and any untoward odor.
In case your grow room has high humidity, then it may be best to get a dehumidifier. This will help in controlling the excessive moisture in the atmosphere. In that way, the function of the activated carbon to air decontamination and odor management is not disrupted.
- Filtration demand
The nature of the cultivars itself also helps to determine how often will you need to replace your carbon filter. For instance, it is normal for aromatic plants to release more compounds into the air. As a result, the carbon filter is expected to get filled up fast and needs more frequent changes.
How to prolong the lifespan of carbon filter?
- Use high-quality activated carbon
The activated carbon is the main component responsible for air purification. It would be ideal to use one with high-grade quality. The Australian certified virgin charcoal is popularly known in the grow room industry. It’s one of the most sought after when it comes to the quality of excellence and longevity.
- Use a pre-filter
The pre-filter is an essential component that helps to extend the lifespan of the carbon filter. Its primary function is to capture dust and other large particles. So that it will no longer reach the carbon bed and cause premature clogging of the pores. Depending on the environment, you may need to clean the pre-filter more often than the carbon filter.
- Use durable material for the body of the carbon filter
Apart from the carbon bed, it is also important to consider the material of the body or the skeletal structure itself of the device.
Most often, the commercial carbon filters are made out of aluminum material. It is a popular choice because it is lighter, has anti-corrosive properties, and much cheaper in cost. Durability-wise, but, it is not as strong as compared to other materials.
A galvanized steel, on the other hand, is heavier and sturdier than aluminum. Hence, it’s expected to keep the body of your carbon filter last longer. The downside though for this material is its expensive price.
- Control the humidity
The ability of the activated charcoal to decontaminate and neutralize the air gets minimized under a very humid environment. Carbons have the most threshold between 70% up to 80% relative humidity. Although, it is still best to try to maintain lower than the said limit to ensure the best performance.
Furthermore, extremely high or low humidity also has a direct and detrimental impact on the nutrition and pace of growth of the cultivars. The table below shows the optimal range of humidity in a grow room based on the stage of the plant’s growth:
|Plant Stage||Optimal Relative Humidity|
|Vegetative Stage||40% up to 60%|
|Flowering Stage||40% up to 50%|
|Final Flowering Stage||40% up to 45%|
Without a shadow of a doubt, the importance of a carbon filter is indispensable in creating a conducive setup in a grow room. Hence, it is necessary to maintain it in its most favorable condition. It helps to continue to reap the expected benefits.
In reality, there is no exact time frame when or how long will the carbon filter last. There are way too many variables that might affect its longevity along the way. Recommendations from the brand may be a good basis. Yet, it the end, it is still best to stay sharp and trust your sense of smell.