Cabin Filters and Why They Are Important

Cabin Filters: When Should You Replace?

Cabin filters do a lot more than keep you comfortable

Spraying agriculture chemicals can be a dirty and sometimes dangerous job. That makes it important to have an enclosed sprayer cab with a strong air filtration system, like today’s Apache Sprayers. Simply having a cabin filter system isn’t enough; it’s just as important to take the right steps to ensure it’s functioning properly, especially during the busiest time of year when farmers are spending a lot of hours in the cab.

A three-layer filter system
Apache Sprayers utilize a three-layer activated charcoal filter comprising a charcoal layer sandwiched between two paper layers with varying levels of filtration. The outer layer is pleated paper designed to catch the largest particles of dirt and dust from entering the middle layer comprising activated charcoal. The third inner-most layer is also paper, but is designed to catch finer particles that may have made it past the charcoal layer.

The lifespan of the filter layers

The cabin filter is designed to do more than just trap dust and dirt particles. The middle activated charcoal layer traps chemical fumes and odors that can sometimes be dangerous to the operator. Though the lifespan of the outer paper filter layers is typically based on the number of hours of operation, the charcoal filter’s efficacy over time is partially determined by the speed at which you operate your HVAC fan, according to Apache Sprayers Senior Application Specialist John Casebolt.

“Activated charcoal deteriorates more quickly with increased air volume,” he said. “If you’re running your fan on high speed all the time so you can feel the air in the cab, you’re pulling more air across the charcoal filter, so you will consume that more quickly.”

The reason for this deterioration is the charcoal’s contact with air in general. Activated charcoal’s long-term efficacy in preventing chemical fumes from entering the cab also depends on how the machine’s heating and air-conditioning system is used. If you crank up the A/C most of the time while you’re spraying, your charcoal filter’s lifespan will be adversely affected because of the increased airflow over the filter. Even when it’s not in operation, if the filter is installed and exposed to open air, it’s slowly losing long-term efficacy, Casebolt said. It’s an important factor to account for in how you store your filter during the off-season, just as much as accounting for how you operate during the season.

When to change your filter
Just as the machine’s A/C system can be the culprit of shorter cabin filter operating life, it can also be one of the first symptoms of a filter reaching the end of its life. When the filter stops working, it’s common for A/C systems to slow down or not function optimally.

When is the best time to change your cabin air filter? “If you start noticing chemical odors in the cab, then it’s time to take a look at that filter and see when it was changed last, because that activated charcoal begins to deactivate as soon as it’s exposed to air. It doesn’t deteriorate as much when it’s just sitting there versus when air is moving across it, but it does happen,” Casebolt said. If there aren’t noticeable performance issues, the cabin filter should be changed at least once a year, depending on overall use.

“Whether it’s more often than once a year depends on the hours on the machine and the conditions in which you’re running,” Casebolt added.

Storing and replacing the filters
Because activated charcoal starts deteriorating with any contact with the air, it’s also important to store filters in a way that minimizes that contact, thereby maximizing the functional life of filters containing the material, like Apache Sprayers cabin filters.

“When you buy filters, they come wrapped in plastic cellophane or something to prevent the air from getting to it even when it’s sitting on a shelf. It’s wrapped very well. I recommend putting a new filter on right before you start spraying. Get your sprayer ready during the off-season, but leave that charcoal filter wrapped up, set it on the seat and wait until right before you go to the field to put it in.”

Replacing cabin air filters is just one part of regular maintenance on an Apache Sprayer. Do you want more maintenance ideas? Start with our annual maintenance checklist.

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