1. System Design

Not all AC units are created equal when it comes to smoke. Central AC units are preferred over window units. Window units bring outside air in directly, passing it through only one mediocre filter. This means a window unit can only filter out the largest of smoke particulates and there will still be a lot of smoke residue in the air coming into your home. If you are installing a new AC system, opt for a central air conditioning unit or a mini-split ductless system. These AC types use an outdoor condenser unit for letting off the heat, but minimal outside air is brought in, and what is brought in must pass through the more effective filtration in an air handler before entering the home.

2. Integrated Air Purifier

If there are concerns that the AC alone can't handle the smoke load, then consider an inline air purification system along with the new AC unit. Air passes through the filters in the air purifier before it is circulated through the cooling unit inside the air conditioner. HEPA air purifiers are considered an excellent option as they remove many particulates from the air. Carbon filter purifiers are also a good option, as these can remove the volatile chemical compounds that are often present in smoky air. 

3. Increased Filtration Options

Most units have a single filter, and the quality of the filtration can vary depending on the unit. If you are installing a new AC, opt for a model that uses HEPA filters. These air filters have smaller pores, which means more soot is caught in them. Not all AC units can use HEPA filters because the small pore size can lead to weak airflow in units that are not designed for HEPA use. As a general guideline, the smaller the pore size in a filter, the more particulates are removed from the air. Keep in mind you will need to replace the filters more frequently during wildfire season.

4. Air Recycling Settings

For times when there are major concerns of bringing smoke particulates into the home, a unit with recycled air settings can further help reduce concerns about outdoor air incursion into the home. When the AC is running purely on recycled there will be no outside air brought in at all. Keep in mind this can lead to stagnant feeling air in the home, but this is a temporary inconvenience when one considers the health risks of breathing smoke particulates. 

Contact an air conditioning installation service if you are ready to install a unit that can help keep your indoor air safe during wildfire season.