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What Type of HVAC Air Filter Do I Need?

Not all air filters are created equal. It’s important to know that air different air filters do different jobs. The type of air filter you need all depends on a number of factors. Including, but not limited to lifestyle, health concerns, and location.

Here are the pros and cons of the most common types of HVAC filters to help you figure out which one is best for you.

How Many Different Types of Air Filters Are There?

We know there are many more than 4 different types of air filters. However, the most common are:

  • Fiberglass Filters
  • Pleated Filters
  • HEPA Filters
  • UV Filters

As we mentioned above, the type of filter your home needs will all depend on different factors. Do you have multiple pets with long hair? Do you live close to a construction site? Does anyone in your home live with asthma and allergies?

When choosing an air filter, it’s important to keep all this in mind. Also, all filters are rated on a MERV system.

MERV stands for minimum efficiency reporting value, and it’s the number or rating given to each filter based on its strength. The higher the MERV rating, the more indoor air contaminants it can trap. For example:

  • Filters with a MERV rating between 1 and 4 can catch things like pollen, dust mites, and carpet fibers.
  • Filters with a rating between 5 and 8 will catch everything listed above, as well as mold spores and indoor air contaminates from things like fabric protector and hair spray.
  • Any filters with a MERV rating between 9 and 12 can catch everything listed between ratings 1 through 8. They can also trap lead dust, humidifier dust, and pollution from auto emissions.
  • And finally, filters with a rating of 13 to 16 will filter bacteria, tobacco smoke, and sneeze particles in addition to everything else listed above.

Fiberglass Filters

Fiberglass filters are the ones that are seen the most. From the home improvement aisle of the drug store to specialized hardware stores and everything in between, they all stock the basic fiberglass filter.

These are also the most affordable filters, sometimes they can go for less than $2. But it’s important to remember that you get what you pay for.

Most basic fiberglass filters are rated between 2 and 4 on the MERV scale. So, they’re not the best at catching smaller contaminates.

They also need to be changed more often, almost every month. What you save in cost, you’re actually paying for in the long run.

Pleated Filters

They other type of filter you’ll see almost anywhere is a pleated filter. They get their name from how they’re made. Sheets of cotton, paper, polyester, or even fiberglass are constructed into pleats. The pleats make it easier to trap smaller airborne particles.

Another perk of pleated filters is that they do not need to be changed as often as fiberglass filters. Some pleated filters only need to be changed twice per year.

Pleated filters range in price from budget to mid-level. While you can get away with paying less for a pleated filter, you’ll want to make sure you check it more often. Filters with larger, open pleats won’t catch things as well as filters with tight pleats.

Because of how they vary in material and construction, pleated filters can all have different MERV ratings. Some pleated filters have a MERV rating of 8, meaning they can block pollen, dust, and pet dander. Other pleated filters are rated at an 11. They can block pollen, dust, pet dander, mold spores, smog, and car fumes.

HEPA Filters

HEPA (High-Efficiency Particulate Air) filters are the only ones without a specific MERV rating. The reason for this is that they’re so strong they surpass the MERV rating.

These filters are commonly found in hospital and medical settings. They are made from multiple, pleated fiberglass layers. Don’t be fooled by the word fiberglass though. The fibers are wound so tightly that HEPA filters can catch 99.9% of indoor air contaminates.

Something that’s important to understand is that not all homes need a HEPA filter. While HEPA filters do their job and protect your home, most people don’t need something that strong.

Because of how strong they are, HEPA filters can be quite pricy. This is why we recommend them only if you need them.

Also, HEPA filters are bulky. They’re much larger than your standard HVAC filter and oftentimes homeowners find they won’t fit into a standard HVAC system. If you believe you need a HEPA filter, speak with an HVAC expert.

UV Filters

The term “UV filters” is misleading. When we reference UV filters, we really mean a home UV purification system with an air filter. When used together, the two create an incredible force against indoor air pollution.

UV lights are so strong they can eliminate viruses, bacteria, and other microscopic organisms that make you sick. The drawback is that they don’t handle dander, pollen, and other large particles. Hence, why we recommend using both a filter and a UV light system.

When used with HVAC, most UV lights are installed just above the air filter. This means your treated air is first pushed though the filter, then “scrubbed” by the UV light.

Want to learn more about how to better your indoor air quality? The experts at Adeedo are on hand and ready to help. Simply call the number at the top of the screen or click here to schedule an appointment online.