Air filters are a crucial component of your cooling system, as they filter out dirt, dust, and other harmful contaminants, ensuring a cozy indoor environment with better air quality. But you need to change these filters from time to time to maintain the efficiency of your Air Conditioner.
Therefore, choosing the right air filter becomes important as it affects your system’s functioning and energy consumption. In this write-up, we have discussed all the factors you should consider before buying an air filter to help you make an informed decision.
Factors You Should Consider While Choosing Air Conditioning Filter
⇒ Filter Type
Before making a decision, you should know the different options available. Here are some of the most common types of air filters.
These are the most common air filters due to their affordability and low cost. But made of glass strands and reinforced by a metal grate, they have a low filtering capacity and can only filter particles up to 3.0-10 microns in size.
The pleated fibers consist of polyester and cotton. They have a higher surface area than other materials due to the folds in the filter called pleats. The more the pleats in the filter, the better the efficiency. These filters are slightly more expensive than the fiberglass but have better filtering capacity.
By far the most effective of all the filters, HEPA filters can trap up to 99% of contaminants, including minute allergens and even smoke particles. They are a popular choice for households with prevalent allergy issues. However, they are the most expensive filter type.
Electrostatic filters work on the principle of magnetism and trap particles by attracting them via static electricity. They’re made of paper and cotton fibers, which help produce static electricity. These filters are very effective in trapping pet dander, which helps pet owners maintain their HVAC system. The only drawback is they may not trap large particles like mold spores.
⇒ Size and Thickness
When deciding on a filter for your system, you should first look at the size. Generally, thicker filters are more effective in trapping contaminants and pollutants. But before purchasing the filters, check if thicker filters are compatible with your system.
Also, remember that the thicker your filter is, the harder the fan will have to work to circulate the air.
⇒ Disposable or Reusable
Some filters are disposable and contain lightweight, eco-friendly materials. You need to change these filters every three months. Meanwhile, reusable filters come in an aluminum frame and electrostatic fabrics to capture all the dirt and dust.
You can take out reusable filters and clean them thoroughly before fitting them again. Read the manufacturer’s instructions for a particular procedure on how to clean the filters.
⇒ MERV Rating
The MERV (minimum efficiency reporting value) rating is one of the most important things to consider when choosing a filter for your system. This MERV rating depends on your filter’s capacity to trap contaminants.
The MERV rating ranges from 1 to 20. A higher MERV rating indicates a better filtering capacity and vice versa. Generally, residential HVAC filters should be between 6 and 16 MERV ratings to ensure proper filtration without straining the system.
Lastly, the area you live in also influences your choice of air filters to an extent. For example, homeowners in humid areas need to change their filters more frequently due to the high risk of mold growth. So, disposable filters or HEPA filters will be the choices for them.
The choice of HVAC filters depends on various factors, including its size, reusability, and MERV rating. But generally, you should consider the thick filters between 6-16 MERV rating. These filters provide up to 35-95 % efficiency in trapping dirt, dust, spores, and allergens at a reasonable rate.