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7 Types of Air Filters

October 24, 2022

In 2020, an estimated 3.2 million deaths occurred worldwide due to household air pollution. If you want to keep your family safe and healthy, you should invest in a high-quality air filter for your HVAC system.

When trying to purchase an air filter, you may find that there are many different options available. Not all air filters are the same, however, and each offers different levels of filtering and effectiveness. You need to choose between your options carefully.

In this guide, we'll look at the 7 types of air filters that you need to be aware of.

What Are MERV Ratings?

Before considering the various types of air filters that are available, it's important to understand what the Minimum Efficiency Reporting Value (MERV) is. MERV is the rating of the ability of filters to catch particles. The MERV rating can range from 1 to 16.

An air filter with a MERV rating of 16 will provide the highest level of filtering. However, keep in mind that it will also offer the highest level of airflow resistance as well. A lower rating, on the other hand, may not do a good enough job of capturing particles.

You may want to opt for a filter rated in the mid-range such as a MERV 8, MERV 11, or MERV 13 filter if you want to get a great balance of filtering without restricting airflow.

Main Types of Air Filters

So what are the main types of air filters that are available? Here are the main types that you should know about.

1. HEPA Filters

A high-efficiency particulate air (HEPA) filter is a type of air filter that is ideal for removing pollutants and allergens from the air and can do so efficiently. The HEPA filter can remove 99.97% of pollutants and allergens from the air in your home.

These filters are particularly useful for people with allergies since they can remove the smallest pollutants from the air. HEPA filters boast a MERV rating of around 16 and will do a great job of providing protection to your home.

However, keep in mind that while they do a great job of removing pollutants from the air, HEPA filters aren't able to eliminate odors, gases, and fumes.

2. UV Air Filters

Ultraviolet (UV) air filters have UV lamps that help to disinfect the air that goes through your HVAC system. UV light air filters work to purify the air and can eliminate mold, yeast, bacteria, and viruses that are in the air.

Keep in mind that while these air filters do a great job of eliminating microorganisms and improving indoor air quality, they aren't as effective at eliminating common pollutants like allergens and dust. They also won't do a great job of eliminating odors.

3. Electrostatic Filters

Through the use of static electricity and a mix of cotton and paper fibers, these filters function as a magnet and work to trap pollutants. This is a great type of filter to use to prevent the spread of allergens and can be useful for people who suffer from allergies.

Electrostatic air filters are also an affordable type of air filter that can be useful to use in a home. There are reusable options available as well.

Although these filters do a great job at preventing the spread of small particles, however, they have a harder time with larger pollutants such as dust.

4. Fiberglass Air Filters

Fiberglass air filters, otherwise known as spun glass or flat-paneled filters, are another option that you can make use of. These standard filters feature a metal grate along with strands of glass that have been spun together.

These filters are a very popular option for the home and won't cost you as much as many of the other filter types that are available. They'll do a great job of preventing lint, pollen, and dust from entering your home.

However, they won't do a great job of improving your indoor air quality as a whole and won't purify the air very successfully. Smaller particles will easily get through these filters.

5. Pleated Filters

Pleated air filters are a type of air filter that you might want to choose and features folds of polyester or cotton. These pleats add a significant amount of surface area to these filters.

Deep pleated box filters, for example, will work to effectively protect against contaminants and can catch small air pollutants including pet dander and mold spores. There are both reusable and disposable pleated filters available and they can each do a great job of serving the needs of your home.

Keep in mind, however, that these filters can be a bit more expensive than other options. If there are a lot of pleats on these filters, they can also restrict airflow more.

6. Media Filters

Media filters feature a pleated paper-like material and a metal cabinet. The air filter size is very small, but the material can cover as much as 75 square feet when it's removed and stretched out.

Media filters are well-designed and can do a great job of improving indoor air quality. They can trap just about all pollutants and will remove pollen, dust, pet dander, and other particles. There isn't a lot of maintenance to deal with to take care of these filters either.

On the other hand, remember that these filters will need to be installed by a professional and they won't be able to filter odors.

7. Washable Filters

Washable filters are air filters that you can easily vacuum and rinse to get rid of the dirt and buildup that is on them. You can find both flat-paneled and pleated washable air filters to use.

As opposed to getting disposable filters, these air filters can be reused time and time again and this can be more environmentally friendly. Although they'll cost more than disposable filters initially, washable air filters are a cost-effective solution.

Keep in mind that washable filters don't tend to do as well against odors and some contaminants. You'll also need to maintain them more than other filters.

Choosing Between the Various Types of Air Filters

If you're trying to choose the best air filter to use in your home, be sure that you understand the types of air filters listed above.

Each of these air filters has its pros and cons, but you'll usually want to look for an air filter that has a mid-range MERV rating. These filters will do a good job of improving your home's indoor air quality without restricting airflow.

Ready to buy an air filter for your home's HVAC system? Click here to start shopping our selection of air filters now.

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