What Kind Of Air Filter Is The Best?
Ever walked into the store to purchase an air filter only to find shelves upon shelves of them and not know which one to choose? It’s a common dilemma most homeowners face. In cases like these, it’s easy to go for the cheapest but you might not be getting the best one for you. It’s a simple task that, when done with lack of information and thought, could easily have long-term impacts on health, equipment lifespan and total expenses.
The Minimum Efficiency Reporting Value ranks air filters according to how well they do their job at preventing air particles from entering your home and spreading around. It’s a scale of 1 to 20 with 1 as the lowest and 20 as the highest. While it sounds like getting the filter with the highest rating would be the smartest thing to do, not all HVAC systems were designed to carry powerful filters. Check if your HVAC fan can handle at least a MERV 16 filter. You can easily find this information in the manual but if you no longer have it, or the manual doesn’t state it, you can do a simple experiment.
Begin with lower rated air filters and move up a rank with every filter. Observe your HVAC and how it handles the new filter and check for signs of strain. You can also ask your trusted HVAC maintenance company for recommendations.
Other Rating Scales
Since the MERV isn’t mandatory, you might notice other brands using a different ranking system for their own filters. If you decide to opt for a filter from one of these, get to know their rating scale by doing a little research. Simply ask the manufacturers or go online. The information should be readily available. Do this before you decide to make your purchase.
Kinds of Mechanical Filters
Fiberglass: It’s the thinnest and simplest in design among the four and do the poorest job when it comes to improving air quality because it wasn’t made to do that. It’s purpose is only to protect your equipment and cost roughly around a dollar each.
MERV Rating: 1-4
Pleated: The higher the number of pleats per foot, the better the airflow which means it passes through the filter more frequently, giving you cleaner air each time. It shields your home from up to 45% of air pollutants at around $10 a piece.
MERV Rating: 10-13
High-efficiency: These filters offer the best value for residential owners. They can pick up extremely small particles and some come coated with bacteria-killing chemicals so your air isn’t only clean but safer and healthier. Other filters are created similar to your car’s air filter. Because of their highly efficient nature, hence the name, expect your operating costs to drop. They can filter up to 85% of pollutants from your indoor air.
MERV Rating: 14-16
True HEPA (or High Efficiency Particulate Air) filters: It’s the most effective in improving air quality but they’re normally not used for homes. Because of the gaps for airflow are so small, in order to filter 98% of air pollutants, they need stronger air pressure which most home HVAC systems don’t have.
MERV Rating: 17-20