By now you’ve heard that electrostatic sprayers are faster, more efficient and save more chemical than traditional spray and wipe methods, which is all true! You have probably also seen a variety of models at a wide range of price points, making choosing the right one even more difficult. Not all electrostatic sprayers are created equal, and not all sellers really know what they’re selling. And as with most things in life, choosing solely on the basis of price doesn’t always yield the best value. To make things a little easier, here are some things to consider in your search.
Should you buy from a new supplier or an established industry player?
Electrostatic spraying has had a huge upswing in demand because of the COVID-19 pandemic. New sellers are entering the market and units are popping up in big-box stores. Beware: New suppliers may not always have the knowledge and expertise to create efficient, user–friendly electrostatic spraying systems, and the hardware store is likely to be selling retail grade units. For a tool as important as this one, go with the experience.
Commercial beats retail
Commercial grade equipment is built for rigorous daily use and has a solid warranty against possible defects, all of which shows in the price. Retail units carry much smaller price tags, but if you read the fine print, the warranty may be void if the product is used for commercial purposes. And if the price on a unit seems unusually low, the battery and charger may be sold separately or component quality may be reduced, hence cancelling your savings.
Batteries are a key consideration
Battery powered electrostatic sprayers offer the freedom to move independent of the availability of power outlets. This allows their use in vehicles, buses, stairwells and anywhere speed of movement and mobility are a priority.
For maximum freedom of movement and longest running operation, choose an electrostatic sprayer with lithium ion swappable battery packs. Lithium Ion technology offers batteries with continuous run times and rapid charging capability. These batteries can also withstand frequent recharging with minimal cell degradation, making them ideal for reliable, all day use and years of service.
You’ll need to stay grounded
Electrical charges can be either positive or negative. When a charge is applied to a surface, an opposite charge begins to build on the charging device. When the charge buildup in the device is large enough, it will discharge – usually in the form of a spark, like what we get when we rub our feet on a carpet and then touch a metal doorknob. In an electrostatic sprayer, the spray droplets are charged and when the opposite charge builds up in the machine, there needs to be a way to release it from the machine in a controlled manner otherwise the operator may receive a painful shock. By introducing a grounding mechanism from the machine to the ground, this eliminates any machine charge buildup.
In plug-in electrostatic sprayers, grounding is done through the cord. Older models of battery operated electrostatic sprayers required the user to wear a grounding strap or have the machine grounded through a cart. Some designs spread the charge over the machine and operator to prevent the device from being able to “shock” the user – a problem in some machine designs when grounding straps are not used correctly. This charge spreading allows grounding through regular touching of surfaces or by anti-static or ESD features commonly found in safety footwear. The new technology found in the EMist battery operated models detects the polarity of the equipment and adjusts it automatically to control charge buildup. This technology eliminates the need for external grounding or special footwear.
While grounding straps are reliable, models that do not require a wearable grounding strap have less potential for operator error. Whatever model you choose, be sure to follow the grounding requirements set out in the operations manual of the equipment.
Pressure-diffused or fan-diffused: Which is best?
Pressure diffused sprayer systems use the force of compressed air or the liquid pumps to push the droplets forward. A fan-diffused system uses the airflow of a fan to propel droplets, which optimizes the flow of the liquid and saves chemical. Fan-diffused electrostatic spray technology can reduce the amount of chemical needed to treat a surface by up to 1/3 compared to pressure diffused electrostatic spray technology. If saving chemical and control are important considerations for you, look for electrostatic sprayers that use fan diffusion technology.
Droplet size matters
Droplet size is an important consideration in choosing your electrostatic sprayer with liquid disinfectants. Too small and your solution will evaporate before it reaches the surface and disperse tiny particles into the air that can be inhaled.
If the droplets are too large, controlling the wetness of the surface being treated becomes difficult. Treated surfaces will take long to dry or, require someone to wipe them dry, which adds time to the job and wastes chemical. Large droplets also reduce the ability of the static charge to steer or guide the droplets around objects and give efficient coverage. Avoid models that allow users to select droplet size as they provide an opportunity for misuse.
Follow expert guidelines
The Environmental Protection Agency in the US recommends that disinfectants used in electrostatic sprayers be limited to use in equipment producing median particle sizes of 40 microns or greater. Avoid models that don’t specify a droplet size of 40 microns or larger.
The EMist uses a fixed aperture that targets a droplet size of 75 microns, which is ideal for applying disinfectants. It offers fast application with minimal chemical waste, dry times between 1 to 10 minutes based on use pattern and minimal breathable particles in the air.
A final consideration
Aim for a model with a non-captive chemical system – a sprayer that can only use product from a particular manufacturer can be more expensive to use and become problematic if ever the required chemical is in short supply.
An electrostatic sprayer is an important purchase that requires expert guidance in the selection and use of electrostatic disinfection technology. Let Sani Marc guide you through the process and help you avoid a case of buyer’s remorse.