Guide to Residential/Commercial Air Filter Types & Sizes
Learn which types of AC filters are best at enhancing energy efficiency and removing particles
Do you know the biggest health hazard in your home right now?
The answer might surprise you.
It’s air pollution. Homes that have limited ventilation tend to allow stale air, dust, smoke and allergens to stay inside the house and continue to cause health issues to the people living there. One of the best ways to ensure you have fresh air in the house is by cleaning your air conditioner and changing the air filter frequently.
While other maintenance jobs might require a professional HVAC contractor, changing an air filter in your unit is something simple that any person can do even without technical knowledge. Replacing a clogged or dirty air filter not only enhances energy efficiency but also ensures that you system works better and keeps the air in your house clean and fresh.
The most important thing to remember is that you can’t just put any old filter in and expect it to work as well. There are different types and sizes of air filters so you must determine the right size for your AC unit as well as which type is the best at enhancing energy efficiency and removing particles.
The number of dust particles or pollutants in the house should determine the depth and the type of air filter you use. Homes with pets, smokers and people with severe allergies require a dense filter with a higher MERV (minimum efficiency reporting value) rating.
Before diving into the different types of air filters, it is imperative to understand the MERV rating system which is the method used to measure how well the filter is removing particles from the air going through it.
Higher MERV filters are not always better. A filter with very high MERV rating will stop some air from getting inside and increase energy costs. For the average household, the best air conditioning filter has a MERV rating between 11 and 16.
Types of Home Air Filters
1. Flat fiberglass filters
Fiberglass disposable filters are readily available in stores and therefore commonly used in residential buildings, apartments and homes. The main advantage of fiberglass filters is they are very cheap and easy to install, so you won’t feel the pinch of replacing them every month.
Unfortunately, fiberglass filters are not so effective at trapping particles, causing the air in your house to circulate round and round without ever being completely removed. They are found in many sizes and 1 to 2 inches in depth.
2. Pleated filters
People who need dust particles to be trapped in the filter to prevent allergic reactions may require pleated filters as they are better at catching dust than fiberglass. Pleated filters will catch about 45% of the debris from the air. Their MERV rating is usually somewhere between 10 to 13.
The downside of pleated filters is that you will have to pay more for them than fiberglass filters, but they do the job quite well and so many homeowners prefer it.
3. Electrostatic air filters
These filters use electricity to attract charged particles and then trap them inside. This type of filter is very good at trapping dust particles and debris, plus it has a longer lifespan – six months instead of just one like fiberglass and pleated filters.
Electronic air filters do not, however, attract tiny particles like smoke. Also, they are associated with producing dangerous ozone substances. You have typically will have to change the filter every three months, and they are a tad more expensive than the above two filters.
4. HEPA filters
HEPA filters are the best because they trap even the smallest particles and keep your house smelling fresh. These filters can capture up to 97% of all particulate matter and remove all allergens from your indoor air.
Unfortunately, HEPA filters are too efficient – and therefore they restrict airflow. So you may notice there is not enough air in the house or you energy bill increasing slightly.
5. Washable filters
Washable filters are the most economical because you don’t have to replace them every month. However, the mechanics of washable filters is to stop debris from going through so they work better when dirty and only have a MERV rating of 1 to 4.
There is an extensive range of sizing when it comes to air filters for your air conditioner. Most AC system manuals will tell you what size filter to buy. If you don’t know the correct size for your home, use a tape measure and have the filters cut half an inch smaller to fit perfectly. All types of filters have the size written on the side – you just have to decide if you want a thick or thin filter.
Gagne Heating & Air Conditioning is happy to provide more information or repairs on your Georgia home or business. Give us a call to schedule a professional tune-up today.
In the meantime, check out our other articles about air filter maintenance and replacement: