Every HVAC system uses at least one air filter. Air filters remove the contaminants in the air to improve indoor air quality and protect the unit’s components from damage. However, finding the right filter for your needs can be challenging as there are so many options in the market. Here are some key factors that you should consider when buying AC filters.
Type of Air Filter
There are different types of air filters used in HVAC systems. Most systems use strand fiber filters, also known as polyolefin or fiberglass air filters. Although these air filters are economical and can trap dust and debris, they might be less effective in trapping smaller particles such as dander or pollen. These air filters would not be the right choice for people who have respiratory issues.
Consider getting pleated air filters, which are more effective in filtration as they have more surface area than strand fiber air filters. Pleated air filters are designed to remove smaller particles, including some bacteria and viruses. These filters are made of a dense weave of fibers. However, when choosing a pleated air filter, ensure it isn’t too thick. Otherwise, it can cause issues with airflow.
You should also consider the Minimum Efficiency Reporting Value (MERV) rating when buying a new air filter. Filters that have lower MERV ratings can’t capture smaller particles. In residential settings, filters with MERV ratings ranging between 5 and 12 are used because they can filter 35% to 75% of the particles in the air.
For applications requiring superior filtration, such as laboratories, hospitals, and certain commercial settings, filters with higher MERV ratings – usually between 13 and 16 – are used because these filters can capture particles as small as 0.3 microns. To ensure you get the highest quality air filter, consider buying from a
Size of the Air Filter
You also need to consider the size of the air filter. Not all HVAC systems can work with standard-sized air filters. When you buy an air filter, check the filter specifications in the instructions manual. The air filter you choose should smoothly fit into the filter cabinet. However, if you have to bend the filter or if there is excess space around it, that means the filter is not the correct size.
Most air filters in residential homes are one inch thick, but these filters might only be compatible with some HVAC systems. If your unit can handle a thicker filter, you might need an air filter that fits.
In addition, an HVAC unit takes up a significant portion of your utility bills. Incorrectly sized air filters can cause the HVAC unit to consume more energy. For example, if your AC unit is designed to use a filter that is one inch thick but you install a four-inch pleated air filter, it may require the HVAC to use more energy to push the air through the filter, resulting in higher energy consumption.