HEPA vs. True Hepa | What’s the Difference?

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Written By Jamila W.

Air purifiers play a role in improving the air quality of your home. Although some areas in your house might need more filtration, clean air is vital for our health. While there is a focus on methods to reduce air pollution, we should have better alternatives. Air purifier systems are among the most popular ways to get rid of airborne pollutants.  

A HEPA filter is among the standard features of a cleaner. However, not all filters are the same. They usually have different ratings for the size of particles they can capture.

Knowing the difference between a HEPA and a True HEPA is important when buying a cleaner for your home.  

These filters are essential when trying to reduce pollutants in your home. After doing more research, we have come up with important findings for you. HEPA vs True HEPA, what’s the difference?  This article covers the following:

  • How to rate air quality.
  • How HEPA filters function.
  • Difference between HEPA and True HEPA filters.
  • Benefits of having a true HEPA filter in your home.
  • Whether True HEPA filters are worth it.

Continue reading to learn more about this and much more. 

What Is Air Filter Quality and How Is It Rated?

Facility managers, homeowners, and government officials should know an air filter’s efficiency to get clean air. Although there are many different filters, the air quality will still be poor if the filter allows too many particles to pass. 

The effectiveness of a filter is measured using certain rating scales. The MERV rating scale ranks filters from 1 to 20 and is the commercial industry standard. HVAC systems should have filters with a minimum MERV rating of 13. 

There is also the HEPA rating of an air filter. Any setting, including commercial, healthcare, and residential, can make use of HEPA filters. Additionally, there are different types of HEPA, such as True HEPA and Permanent HEPA.

What Is a True HEPA Filter?

True HEPA filter

What is a True Hepa Filter? There is a difference between a true HEPA filter and a HEPA filter. Even though both filters are mechanical, there are differences in their cost, density, and level of filtration. 

True HEPA filters are mechanical filters that capture 99.97% of airborne particles, including dust mites, mold, bacteria, and viruses as small as 0.3 microns.

The filter-bypassing Most Penetrating Particle Size (MPP or MPPS) is 0.3 um in size. The MERV range for a true HEPA filter is 17 to 20. You can find it in a vacuum cleaner, air purifier, or heating system. These filters must be replaced as they cannot be washed.

How Do Hepa Filters Capture Particles?

By understanding how HEPA filters work, you can choose between a True HEPA and a basic HEPA. A HEPA filter is usually made from fiberglass or plastic fibers. These fibers are closely bound together to prevent particles from passing through. 

Most HEPA filters are often used with electrostatically charged filters. This helps in the two-stage air flow through the filter. The air cleaner in this two-stage process has an electrical power source that charges the particles that pass through the filter. 

This charge helps particles stick to one another, making it easier for the air filter to get rid of them. The charcoal pre-filter also gets rid of pollutants like smoke, smells, and other pollutants that HEPA filters cannot capture. Ionization technology enables you to capture more airborne particles so the HEPA filter can work at its best. 

A HEPA filter will capture airborne particles through diffusion. As air passes through the filter, resistance is created to trap particles. It happens because of the airflow which pushes air through the filters. 

As you might expect, a filter with large spaces between the fibers will not be that good. This is because more particles will get through, which affects the air-cleaning process.

True HEPA vs. HEPA Filters

HEPA filters are one of the most popular filtration systems in businesses and homes. This is because it works well and can get rid of 99.7% of particles smaller than 0.3 microns. 

Only a True HEPA filter meets the DOE HEPA filtration standards. It has high cleaning abilities and achieves 99.7% effectiveness. 

It is not considered True HEPA if it does not meet the DOE standards. Although the filter might still be able to capture many particles smaller than 0.3 microns, it can only be said to meet DOE HEPA standards if it is verified to be a True HEPA. 

When buying a True HEPA, you should be able to find the testing results. They show that the manufacturer followed the correct procedures and met the DOE standards. It will be considered a True HEPA filter after passing the tests.

Are There Fake HEPA Filters?

You should be on the lookout for fake hepa filters. There are claims that they work as good as real ones. However, they are not the same. Let’s look at some of them.

Absolute Hepa

True HEPA and absolute HEPA are two terms that are commonly used to refer to the same thing. Absolute HEPA filters claim to remove more than 99.97 percent of particles smaller than 0.3 microns. This is the only difference between the two. In the end, it doesn’t matter what term is used; if a filter meets the 99.77 percent cleaning level, it is HEPA-level filtration. 


Some businesses use the marketing term UltraHEPA. Their air filter, according to them, “removes particles 100 times smaller than a standard HEPA.”. In other words, their air filter is able to get rid of particles as small as 0.003 microns. A normal air filter is not likely to do this. 


Although they are different, HEPASilent air filters are not always fake. They use an electromagnetic charge to get rid of particles. This technology still works and reduces air pollutants, but it is not the same as a true HEPA.

True Hepa

Even though their HEPA filters cannot go through DOE-level certification, some manufacturers call them “true HEPA.” This is done to show that they meet the DOE standard. At the same time, others use true HEPA as a marketing strategy. 

HEPA Type & HEPA Like

HEPA Type and HEPA Like filters are not that good. Manufacturers use this marketing strategy. They might or might not work as well as HEPA filters. They don’t follow any standards, so there is no way to know. 

Permanent HEPA

It needs to be said that permanent HEPA filters are not washable. A HEPA filter is harmed by washing, which slowly reduces its performance. HEPA filters can neither be washed nor used again. 

After all, it is recommended to buy air filters with  HEPA-level filtration. Homeowners should have trust in their manufacturers who have tested these filters and determined that they meet the DOE standard. You can know all these through the available testing data on the product. 

It’s important to check the label for 99.97% and 0.3 microns. Only buy the air filter if the label includes these words and numbers.

Benefits of Having an Air Purifier With a TrueHepa Filter in the Home

Air purifiers with a true HEPA filter can remove up to 99.97% of all airborne particles. These particles might harm your health, and removing them helps give you clean air. Let’s look at some of the benefits of having a true HEPA filter in your home;

Relieves Asthma

Many people are living with asthma. Their bronchial tubes are inflamed. Air particles like dust mites and pet dander affect their airways, causing breathing difficulties. Throughout the year, many dog and cat breeds are shed. These pets spread a lot of hair and dander when they scratch themselves, which causes the air to stay dusty. Other asthma triggers exist, such as pollen and dust mites, even if you don’t have pets. These tiny particles are captured by True HEPA filters, which lessen symptoms.

Improves Sleep

Indoor pollutants like dust mites, bacteria, and fungi can bring on allergies and hay fever. You may experience a runny nose for several days. Your sleep may be disturbed by allergic symptoms like sneezing, sore throats, or coughing.

When you don’t get enough sleep, you become fatigued during the day and are less productive the next day. The best way to prevent these sleep disturbances is to use HEPA air purifiers, which remove most pollutants from your room. Your sleep quality improves with cleaner air.

Prevents Airborne Diseases

Tiny floating particles spread airborne diseases like the common cold and the flu. It’s not unusual for other family members to become ill after one member contracts the flu. It happens because of breathing polluted air. A true HEPA filter captures these bacteria and viruses. This protects you and your family from sickness.

Can Increase Life Expectancy

Indoor air pollution may affect your cardiovascular, respiratory, and nervous systems. Your lungs can fill up with gasses and chemicals from common household products. The airborne particles are so small that they can pass through the blood-brain barrier and affect your brain and cognitive abilities. A true HEPA filter will get rid of all tiny particles and improve your indoor air quality

Are True HEPA Filters Worth It? 

When getting rid of dust, pollen, and other air pollutants, true HEPA filters are worth it to you as a homeowner. This is helpful for people with allergies, asthma, or other breathing conditions.

Additionally, remember that HEPA filters provide enough filtration for most home air cleaning systems. Homeowners, be on the lookout for fake HEPA terms and claims! HEPA filters help improve indoor air quality.

Frequently Asked Questions(FAQs)

What Is HEPA Filter Made Of?

HEPA is a fibrous filter made from fine glass fibers. A filter mat is created by tying and compressing the tiny glass threads in different directions. The many folded sheets increase the filter’s surface area. It has more than 2,000 layers of glass threads. 

Where Is A HEPA Filter Used?

When dealing with air pollution, it is necessary to use a HEPA filter. They are often used in the following places;
 Nursing homes
Hospitals and other healthcare and medical facilities. 
Aerospace Industries
Manufacturing Industry
Homes to improve air quality
They have been improved over time to work better.

How Do I Tell the Type of HEPA Filter an Air Purifier Is Using?

n air purifier’s manual or website specification can be used to determine what kind of HEPA filter is being used in that particular model. You can also look at the HEPA-labeled score, which should be printed on the box. Regardless of the filter’s name, it is a True HEPA filter if it has a 99.97% filtration efficiency on particles as small as 0.3 microns. Anything less would mean it’s the HEPA-type filter.

What Is MERV Rating?

MERV stands for Minimum Efficiency Reporting Value. It shows how effective your air purifier is. The rate ranges from 1-20. A higher rating would mean that your air filter allows fewer particles to pass through it. Always use a higher MERV rating filter to get the best results.

Final Thoughts

You can now tell the difference between True hepa vs. hepa filter. These two filters share some similarities but have slight differences regarding efficiency. A True HEPA filter is more effective and traps more particles. This is helpful, especially at home and business setups, as you breathe clean air. Less air pollution means better quality of life.

Always check with the manufacturers when buying an air filter and ensure the ratings are correct. It would be best to use a True HEPA filter for effective functioning.