Air filters are one of the essential components of our HAVC system. They help provide excellent and healthy airflows by filtering dirt and debris from the air. A faulty or wrong air filter can prevent a good airflow and potentially put your health at risk by distributing dirt through the air.
When it comes to finding the best HVAC filters for your home, it can be very confusing as there are various types of air filters. This article provides everything you need about air filters to decide which filter is suitable for your home or office.
Bottom Line Up Front
The MERV rating is the one thing that matters most when choosing the best air filter for your HVAC system. Depending on the conditions of your home’s environment, you can select the air filters best suitable for you.
My favorite is the Filter king titanium MERV 13. It is great for allergies, pollution, smoke, and even pets. It also lasts longer than most filters in its category.
Pick at a Glance
- Best for pets – MERV 8 to 11 air filters and above
- Best for allergies – MERV 11 to 13 air filters and above
- Best for the extra clean areas – MERV 17 air filters and above
What is HVAC Air Filters?
An HVAC air filter is the component that keeps dust, pollen, and other contaminants in your heating and cooling system. They remove pollutants from the air by trapping them on their surface.
You can find these filters in your air conditioner, boiler, furnaces, etc. An air filter has a layer of fabric on one side and a layer of paper or foam on the other.
It is essential to have the right air filter in your HVAC system and change them in time. If the air filter in your HVAC system is faulty or wrong, it will not be able to produce good quality air into your home.
Also, a bad air filter is not safe for your health either. It can cause an allergy attack if anyone around is allergic to dust mites or other particles.
Type of a Filters
There are various types of air filters in the market today, however, here are the most important:
Reusable Air Filters
Reusable air filters have MERV ratings of 1 to 2, which is the lowest. The only good thing about this kind of filter is they eliminate the need for a complete replacement. They do not filter as much dirt as other filters and can attract mold and mildew growth if installed before dehydrating.
Pleated Media Filters
These are a better version of the reusable filters. They are cleanable, can be reused multiple times, and you don’t have to change them frequently. The pleats help increase the filter’s surface area and efficiency, and their MERV rating ranges from 5 to 13.
It can collect mold spores and pet dander; however, the filtration efficiency is still relatively low. They reduce airflow resistance and can minimize fan noise, but I do not recommend them if you have allergies.
Compared to pleated filters, electrostatic filters are even more effective at filtering allergens. An electrostatic filter generates a static charge using small cotton and paper fibers when in use.
This charge acts like a magnet, attracting the smallest airborne particles and preventing them from circulating throughout your home. Electrostatic air filters should be replaced every six months, depending on how much pollution they encounter daily in your house.
The main priority of the heap filters is they are the best at removing airborne particles. They have a MERV rating of 17 to 20, meaning they can capture small microns such as mold spores, tobacco smoke, and bacteria.
Because of how much dirt the HEPA filters can trap, they get clogged way earlier than other filters. Therefore, they have to be replaced as often as every 90 days.
It might not be easy to replace the HEPA filter, as it can be a little complicated to install. You will likely require a contractor’s revision for this filter to work with your HVAC system.
What do MERV Ratings Mean?
What exactly do MERV ratings mean, and why are they important?
To keep it simple, MERV ratings determine how much dirt your air filter can trap or filter. To buy the right air filter for your HVAC, you must first understand MERV ratings and how they work.
The most common method of measuring filtration is MERV. It stands for Minimum Efficiency Reporting Value, ranging from 1 to 20. The higher the MERV rating, the better the filter at particle trapping. Higher-rated filters trap small particles more effectively than lower-rated filters.
Continue reading related guides air filter guides based on MERV ratings:
- Best Merv 8 Air Filters
- Best Merv 11 Air Filters
- Best Merv 13 Air Filters
- Best Merv 14 Air Filters
- Best Merv 16 Air Filters
Or see what’s the difference and how different MERV ratings compare with each other:
How Do I Know what MERV-rated Filter to Get?
The right MERV-rated filter for you depends on your HVAC system. Some HAVC systems require a higher MERV-rated filter, while others need lower MERV-rated filters.
Here are different factors that will help you decide what MERV-rated air filters to get:
Do You or Anyone Around Have Allergies?
The quality of your HVAC system’s filter can significantly impact allergens controls. Some air filters control the allergens in your home, while some can potentially make it worse.
If you or anyone around you suffers from allergies, then air filters with MERV ratings of about 11 to 13 would be perfect. Depending on your allergy severity, you can use any rate. I suggest MERV 11 filters if the allergies are mild and need easy filtration. However, if it is very severe, go with MERV 13 filters.
Also, MERV 11 to 13 filters are only perfect for homes. Anything above is unnecessary unless you use it on commercial HAVC systems such as residential buildings, offices, general hospitals, etc.
Do You Have Pets?
Having pets can also be a factor when looking for the best filter quality.
Pets like cats and dogs have hair, and they shed. The issue is they can cause a threat to your air quality by bringing dander. Dander is small flakes or bits of skin that fall off furry pets.
If this is your case, I suggest getting MERV 13 for your home.
Are You Living in a Highly Polluted Area?
The air outside eventually comes inside your home. So, if you live in areas with a high rate of pollution, you need to take your filtration seriously. It does not matter how well you seal your home, particles eventually find their way in, and the HVAC helps distribute them around.
In this case, since it is still for your home, MERV 13 filters can do the trick.
Intense Clean HVAC Systems?
For HVAC systems in environments that need intense cleaning, such as surgical operating rooms, you need filters with a rating of MERV 17 to MERV 20.
Remember, just because a higher MERV filter can remove more dirt does not mean it is the best one for your HVAC system. When buying filters, you should pay close attention to your HVAC system. Some HVAC systems require a specific MERV rating. Using the inappropriate MERV-rated filter for your HVAC system can negatively impact its performance.
Continue reading related guides based on Air Filter Sizes:
- Best 14x14x1 Air Filters
- Best 12x20x1 Air Filters
- Best 12x24x1 Air Filters
- Best 10x30x1 Air Filters
- Best 16x20x1 Air Filters
- Best 14x24x1 Air Filters
- Best 14x25x1 Air Filters
- Best 18x20x1 Air Filters
- Best 16x25x1 Air Filters
- Best 20x20x1 Air Filters
- Best 14x30x1 Air Filters
- Best 16x25x4 Air Filters
- Best 20x25x4 Air Filters
What Happens when I don’t Change My Air Filters?
Changing your air filters is one way to ensure proper airflow from your HVAC system. An air filter’s job is to protect the HVAC systems’ sensitive components from dust and other particles.
Without the air filters, dust and other particles can easily get into the HVAC system. When this happens, the system’s components in charge of producing air, such as the fan motor or valves, will eventually get clogged.
A clogged HVAC system will be unable to produce enough air. It will also distribute whatever particle into the air. This can be unhealthy for allergic people or anyone. A clogged HVAC system does no justice for your energy bills. The system will have to work extra hard to produce air. So, the harder it works, the more energy it burns.
When Do I Change My HAVC’s Air Filter?
Generally, air filters should be replaced every two to three months. However, some air filters have to be replaced sooner than others, depending on your situation and what type you have.
Here are some factors that determine when you can change your filters:
- For pet owners – If you own furry pets or have one around, you should change your air filters at least every two months. Furry pets shed now and then, so your HVAC system will likely get clogged sooner than expected.
- For allergic people – If you or anyone around have allergies or respiratory conditions, it does not matter what air filter you have. It would be best if you changed or replaced the air filters for at least 20 to 45 days.
- For intense cleaning required areas – HVAC air filters in hospitals and surgery rooms must be replaced at least every 45 to 60 days.
Best HVAC Air Filters Brands
Here are the top air filters for your HVAC system:
The Nordic Pure Pleated MERV 13 filter is excellent for allergies and smoke. It captures tiny particles and pollutants like cigarette smoke and pet dander.
If you or someone nearby smokes frequently, the Nordic Pure Pleated MERV 13 filter is the best option for you. Before cigarette smoke is released into the atmosphere, it can collect its gases and toxins. It also lessens the smell of smoking.
- Great for capturing smoke and other tiny particles
- Provides better air quality
- It needs to replace often
- More expensive
Filter King Titanium is another good quality air filter great at capturing dust. It is made of 100% cotton and has a MERV 13 rating.
Because it is made of high-quality materials, you can expect it to last a long time and still perform well. The filter’s ability to capture dust particles from the air makes it ideal for homes with children, pets, or people with allergies.
This filter has twice as many pleats as a standard filter. This means your air will pass over a larger surface area before entering your vents. Resulting in a cleaner, fresher-smelling atmosphere throughout your home.
- Great for homes with kids, pets, and allergies.
- Great for capturing dust.
- Needs to be changed often.
Filter King HVAC filters are a popular choice among homeowners. They are available in various MERV ratings to find the right filter for your home.
These filters effectively filter particles 10.0 microns and more significant, such as dust, dander, and smoke. By filtering out these dangerous particles, they assist in extending the life of your heating or cooling system. You also save money on energy.
- Provides Improved air quality.
- Effective at removing dust, dander, and smoke from the air.
- More cost-effective in the long run.
- Difficult size to find.
- More expensive than the competitor.
While MERV 8 is the finest HVAC air filter for dust, there is a lot to consider while selecting from this category. Especially if your house is exposed to dangerous particles such as dust mites, dander, etc., if you buy a MERV 8 filter, it should be of high quality.
Air filters from FilterBuy are an excellent choice for AC furnaces. They capture up to 90% of airborne particles such as dust mites and pollen, depending on what size you get. They also have an antibacterial covering that keeps mold spores from developing on them over time.
- Good for pets
- Easy to install
- Blocks up to 90% of pollutants.
- More expensive than average filters
Best HVAC Filters: FAQs
Question: How Often Should HVAC Air Filters Be Changed?
Answer: This varies depending on whether you live in dusty or dry areas, have pets, and the age of your system and equipment. However, most air filter manufacturers and HVAC firms advise changing your air filter every 90 days or three months.
Question: Is there Really a Difference in HVAC Air Filters?
Answer: Not exactly. There is no significant difference in HVAC air filters except for the quality and sizes.
Question: Do Higher MERV Filters Restrict Airflow?
Answer: No. Although the highest MERV ratings are the most effective for improving air quality, they might be harmful to your HVAC system. A higher MERV value indicates more excellent resistance, which results in less airflow.
Question: What Happens if You don’t Change Your Air Filter?
Answer: A clogged filter restricts airflow to your HVAC system, making it work harder. It consumes more energy, which increases your expenditures. It may also be unable to maintain the correct temperature in your house. This implies it may have to run for extended periods of time, putting a burden on the system.
Question: Why does My Furnace Filter Get Dirty So Quickly?
Answer: Your filter’s duty is to trap pollutants in the air as it goes through, such as pet hair, dander, and dust. Choosing a robust and pleated filter will trap more of what you attempt to get through. Simply put, the filter will become clogged relatively fast.
Question: Do You Need to Change the Air Filter in Winter?
Answer: During the winter, your system’s air filter will need to be cleaned on a regular basis. Although your air filter should be changed at least once every three months, you should replace it every month throughout the winter.
Question: What is the Correct Way to Put an Air Filter in?
Answer: Look for the arrow to correctly insert a new filter. The arrow on your filter should always face the unit away from the return air duct, which conducts the heated or cooled air. HVAC systems push cold or warm air out and pull spent air in, recirculating the air throughout your home.
Air filters are one of the vital components of the HVAC system. They play a significant role in providing your home with good quality air. They do this by filtering out pollutants from the air you breathe.
Air filters might seem minor; however, many things can go wrong when you ignore them. One of the most important to ensure the optimal functionality of your HVAC air filter is to choose the right one. In this article, I provide you with everything you need to know how your HVAC air filters.