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What Type of Air Filter Is Best for Homes?

October 24, 2022

Does your home have an HVAC system? If so, you likely know all about the importance of changing home air filters regularly.

Here's what you may not know: not all air filters are the same. They come in different types, shapes, and materials. Depending on the types of pollutants present in your home, it's easy to get the wrong filter for your needs.

To avoid this issue, many homeowners choose filters based on MERV ratings. This rating measures filter efficiency in a simple range of 1 to 16. As helpful as this rating is, though, it doesn't quite tell the whole story.

Need some help choosing the right filters for your HVAC system? Read on to learn about the seven main types of air filters, as well as their pros and cons!

HEPA Filters

If you're looking for high-efficiency filters, HEPA filters are your best bet. They can remove 99.97% of airborne particles and allergens present in your home. That includes dust, mold spores, and tobacco particles.

Thanks to their efficiency, HEPA filters are a great choice for people living with allergies or other respiratory issues. These filters are also cost-effective, as you'll only need to change them every few years.

The main downside with HEPA filters is that they're more expensive than other filters. Also, as efficient as they are, they aren't perfect. Microscopic pollutants such as fumes or gasses will still pass through the filter.

Spun Glass Filters

You may know of spun glass filters as flat-paneled filters. They consist of strands of fiberglass spun together and reinforced by metal grates. As one of the cheapest options on the market, these filters are quite popular.

Unfortunately, spun glass filters won't do much for your indoor air quality. They can only trap particles the size of about three to ten microns. Common particles of this size include dust, pollen, and carpet fibers.

Even with these deficiencies, spun glass filters are fine for undemanding customers. If you only need a filter for keeping dust and lint out of your home, the spun glass will do the job.

UV Filters

As the name implies, UV filters use short-wave UV light to kill viruses and bacteria. As such, these filters are a great choice for getting rid of disease-causing pollutants and germs like mold spores.

The issue with UV filters is that they revolve around converting oxygen into ozone. In small amounts, ozone can cause minor health concerns like chest pain. In higher amounts, it can make respiratory diseases worse.

UV filters also tend to have a rating of MERV 8 to MERV 11. As such, they don't do great against benign pollutants like dust. That's why UV filters are often part of an advanced filtration mechanism such as HEPA filters.

Media Filters

Media filters incorporate paper-like materials folded inside a metal cabinet. When unfolded, these materials can cover 75 square feet. However, the filter itself is no wider than six feet when it's in use.

That surface area makes media filters seven times more effective than standard filters. And the best part is, they can provide good filtration without restricting airflow. They also don't increase static pressure.

The surface area makes media filters a great low-maintenance option. Depending on the environment, you may only need to change them once every two years. They're also among the sturdier filter options.

Media filters are a great choice for people with weak immune systems or those living in industrial zones. Their only real cons are that they don't filter odors and may need to be professionally installed.

Pleated Filters

Pleated filters consist of either cotton or polyester fabrics. Both materials get arranged into pleats, which increases the surface area of the filter. Filters with more pleats are more effective than those with fewer pleats.

Deep-pleated box filters are great at filtering out most pollutants. They can trap even difficult allergens, like mold spores or pet dander. They also suppress the noise of the fan and come in both reusable and disposable versions.

Due to their air filter size, pleated filters are less resistant to airflow. That said, the low air filtration requires your HVAC system to work a bit harder. Pleated filters are also a bit more expensive than some other options.

Electrostatic Filters

Electrostatic filters use cotton and paper fibers to create static electricity. That static acts as a magnet that traps pollutants within the filter. That makes electrostatic filters a good choice for people struggling with allergies.

Many electrostatic filters come with a carbon filter for improved efficiency. They come in pleated and flat-paneled versions. They're also available in reusable options, which allows homeowners to cut costs.

The main issue with electrostatic filters is that they may struggle to filter out certain common pollutants. These include things like dust and mold spores. To avoid this issue, look for a filter rated MERV 13 or higher.

Washable Filters

Washable filters are another type of filter that can come in pleated and flat-paneled forms. Given their durability, they're better for the environment than their disposable standard counterparts.

To ensure washable filters work as intended, you'll need to maintain them. Keep in mind they need to be fully dry before you put them back in. Even a hint of moisture can lead to mold and bacteria buildup.

Washable filters tend to have low MERV ratings. That said, they're still a good option for people who don't need specialty filters. Their initial price is a bit high, but using them properly should save you money in the long run.

Choose the Right Home Air Filters for You!

At the end of the day, choosing the right home air filters will depend on your situation. With so many distinct options on the market, doing a little research can go a long way. The above article is a great way to get started!

Still not sure which air filters to get for your home? Contact us here to find the perfect filter type for you! We offer both one-time purchase and subscription plans for all your air filter needs!

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