Encountering a good bit of people throughout the year, many of them do not understand the function and the difference between a regular vacuum and a true HEPA vacuum. I wrote a blog on this a while back, but instead of getting into many of the technical differences, I’ll explain the core ones using a shop vac and a HEPA vac. HEPA stands for High Efficiency Particulate Air. A shop vac collects air into the unit which swirls around the cabin and exhausts out of muffler. Locating the muffler is easy because of the amount of air discharging out of the top rear of the unit. A true HEPA vac has all the air only passing through the filter and it does not have cabin leaks. Not having cabin leaks means that the unit is air tight, and it eliminates the chance of cross contamination. Secondly, the air passing through the filter ensures that the air is now clean. And third, the differences between a shop vac HEPA filter and a real HEPA filter are endless, including the price. A general big box store filter costs about thirty bucks, while a real HEPA filter runs just under two hundred. The shop vac will cross contaminate the work area not only because it has cabin leaks, but also because the exhaust will blow an enormous amount of air in the work zone. So, if the unit is not marked, HEPA, then the unit is most likely a regular vacuum which is being posed as a true HEPA system.
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