Adequate airflow is vital for the function and efficiency of an air conditioning system, whether the AC is independent or part of an HVAC system. Without proper airflow traveling into and out of the unit, the unit must work harder, which could lead to equipment damage. Unbalanced air circulation also causes some areas to cool while other regions remain warm. The entire interior of a home or office relies on properly functioning equipment and ductwork for temperatures to remain constant. You need the best AC filter for airflow.
Air leakage is also a concern. Gaps or holes in ductwork allow cool air to escape, leaving rooms warm. The thermostat detects the warm temperature, which causes the air conditioning unit to cool incoming air to lower the temperature continually. The cycle becomes unending unless you solve the problem. Along with overworking the air conditioner, utility bills rise through the roof.
The air conditioner’s prefilters are essential for trapping particulates before the AC filter cools the clean air and transfers airflow to the designated locations. Depending on the type of air conditioning unit, there might be a filter trapping particulates as cool air passes through and enters the space.
Filters come in all sizes and materials. The filter types used in standard independent air conditioning units are the same in household furnaces. As with furnace filters, you must change the products as frequently as recommended. Otherwise, clogging occurs that does not enable air to flow appropriately.
The ability of a filter to trap various sizes of contaminants varies. Packaging typically states the effectiveness of a filter in terms of the particles the product capture.
Types of Air Filters
- Fiberglass filters are the most common type in HVAC units. They are inexpensive and disposable but require frequent replacement. The filters use fine fiberglass strands, which are spun together to create an almost fabric-like appearance. Air easily flows through the microscopic pores. However, the spun mesh captures dust and lint to prevent the particles from entering the unit or expelling into the room air.
- Pleated filters are materials that are tighter than fiberglass. The finished weave is then pleated to increase the overall surface area. The larger surface area provides enhanced airflow plus more effective air cleaning. Depending on their rating, the filters can capture dust, dust mite debris, pet dander, and lint. Various companies offer pleated filters as disposable or washable products. The filters also come in multiple sizes to accommodate many different HVAC units.
- Electrostatic filters are top-of-the-line. Fine cotton and paper fibers generate a static charge during use. The slight order acts similar to a magnet to attract and trap contaminants. The filters come in disposable or washable varieties in many different sizes. Electrostatic filters are often preferred by homeowners who suffer from allergies.
Importance of Changing Filters
You must replace air conditioners routinely for a variety of reasons.
- Ensures unit longevity – Operating an air conditioning unit with a dirty filter for prolonged lengths of time may potentially damage the system. When air cannot flow into the unit, the air conditioner overheats. The fan and motor then work harder to maintain an appropriate temperature inside and out, which eventually results in damage or worn-out components. Regularly changing the filter according to the manufacturer’s recommendations saves homeowners hundreds if not thousands, of dollars in repair or replacement costs.
- Improves air quality – Clean air filters ensure clean, fresh, conditioned air enters the home or workplace. Clean air is of particular importance for young children and elderly adults. People with chronic respiratory conditions or allergies also need clean air to remain healthy. Regularly changing the filter leaves indoor air void of small and microscopic particles that could impair health.
- Reduces operating costs – Dirty filters require the air conditioning unit to use more energy to keep components cool. By ensuring the change of the filter regularly, homeowners may realize up to 15 percent savings on their cooling costs, as the unit does not have to keep running to stay cool and produce cool air.
- Better for the environment – If filters are not regularly changed, the air conditioner workers harder, which causes an increase of carbon monoxide and other toxic gasses to escape into the environment. Being eco-friendly is as simple as changing the filter as recommended.
Plain fiberglass provides the best airflow into or out of the unit of all the AC filter types. They require frequent replacement but are the least expensive. However, they are the least effective at trapping particulates.
Choosing the Right Air Filter
Air filter packages bear a MERV rating. MERV stands for minimum efficiency reporting value, which translates to the air filter’s effectiveness. The higher the MERV rating, the greater the level of friction created to trap contaminants while ensuring airflow.
The American Society of Heating, Refrigerating, and Air-Conditioning Engineers established the MERV rating system to represent a filter’s performance. MERV ratings span from 1 to 16. The number determines the filter’s ability to capture macroscopic and microscopic particles. Higher MERV ratings indicate that fewer particulates can pass through the filter into or out of the air conditioning unit and into the room air. The rating shows the size of the particles trapped in the filter, ranging from 0.3 to 10 microns.
|6||300||Dust lint and pollen|
|8||600||All of the above + dust mites and mold|
|11||1000 to 1200||All of the above + pet dander and other respiratory irritants|
|13||1300 to 1500||All of the above + bacteria and viruses|
Common particles trapped by tested filters include bacteria, dust mite debris, dust mites, dust, fibers, mold spores, pet dander, pollen, odors, and viruses. Filters used for residential use may have MERV ratings of up to 12. Medical facilities commonly use filters having a rating of up to 16. However, the units accommodate heavy-duty filters.
Filter packages may also bear an MPR rating, which is a micro-particle performance rating. The 3M company developed the system to denote a filter’s ability to trap smaller than one-micron airborne particles. The MPR rating grades the filter on the ability to capture particulates measuring 0.3 to 1 micron in size. As a reference, dust particles range in size from 0.2 to 8 microns, while pollen ranges from 7 to 70 microns.
The Best AC Filters for Airflow and Efficiency
The Filtrete might be the best AC filter for airflow; it is designed to improve the air quality in your home or office by trapping unwanted air particles while allowing cleaner air to flow through. This model has an MPR rating of 300 and an MERV rating of 5, which means it can attract and capture larger particles such as lint, household dust, and dust mite debris.
Compared to other 3-month pleated air filters, such as fiberglass or washable filters, the Filtrete outperforms them in terms of performance. It is made of electrostatically charged filter media that effectively captures microparticles like pollen, pet dander, and smoke.
The Filtrete air filter is compatible with most HVAC systems, including air conditioners and furnaces. It has exact dimensions of 13.81×29.81×0.81 inches and comes in a pack of six.
As for its features, the Filtrete air filter has an exclusive 3-in-1 technology from 3M, which is the company that manufactures it. This technology allows the filter to capture airborne particles, including those that carry bacteria and viruses. It also has a high dust-holding capacity, so it can trap more dust and debris before replacing it.
Overall, the Filtrete air filter is a reliable option for those looking to improve the air quality in their indoor space. Its MERV and MPR ratings ensure that it can capture a wide range of particles, and its electrostatically charged filter media makes it more effective than other types of air filters.
The Aerostar 14x24x1 MERV 11 Pleated Air Filter is a great option for those looking for a filter that is both cost-effective and highly efficient. Made with 100% synthetic electrostatic media, these filters are designed to draw and capture allergens, dust, pollen, smoke, and other fine particles between 0.3-1.0 microns.
With a MERV 11 rating, these filters are comparable to MPR 1000-1200 and FPR 7, making them a highly efficient option for those seeking superior filtration. Additionally, these filters are simple to install, reducing the need for professional installation, and are a cost-effective way to improve your home’s air quality. These filters also help improve the efficiency of your HVAC unit, reducing maintenance and utility costs by removing dirt and reducing strain on the motor.
Changing the filter every 60 to 90 days is recommended, but increasing the frequency to 30 days during peak summer and winter is advised for optimal performance. Compatible with furnaces and AC units, these filters are a great option for those looking for an affordable and efficient way to improve indoor air quality.
The Amazon Basics Merv 11 AC Furnace Air Filter captures household irritants and improves air quality while promoting furnace efficiency. It has a MERV rating of 11, making it suitable for residential use, and it is comparable to MPR 1000-1200 and FPR 7. The filter captures allergens between 3-10 microns, including lint, dust, and pollen, effectively improving indoor air quality.
The filter is made with electrostatically charged synthetic filter material, which attracts and captures particles and pollutants, and has a beverage board frame and wire mesh support for added durability. It has a standard size of 14” x 25” x 1” and comes in a pack of 6, making it convenient for regular replacements. It is simple to install and requires replacement every 60 to 90 days for optimal performance.
Overall, the Amazon Basics Merv 11 AC Furnace Air Filter is a good choice to improve indoor air quality and promote furnace efficiency in residential settings. Its MERV rating of 11 and electrostatically charged synthetic filter material make it effective in capturing household irritants and allergens. In contrast, its durable frame and convenient pack size make it a reliable and cost-effective choice for regular replacements.
The UBeesize Reusable Air Filter (MERV 8 MPR 700) is a reusable, eco-friendly air filter that helps freshen your air. The filter has a MERV 8 rating, which means it can filter out pollen, household dust, pet dander, and lint that can trigger allergy symptoms or asthma attacks. This filter is made of melt-blown material and has 43 pleats to extend the space for purified air.
This set comes with a reusable ABS plastic frame and 9 built-in filters. The frame is washable, can withstand high and cold temperatures (-40°F to 212°F), and can be reused for over 10 years. The filter paper is recommended to be changed every 3 months, and the plastic frame can be easily cleaned with a wet cloth.
The 16x25x1 size can work with almost any brand and is comparable to MPR 700/FPR 4-5. The set of 9 filters can provide 27 months of filter usage, and the filters are foldable, which saves 90%+ space for storage. The air filter is easy to install, as you only need to remove the old filter, replace it with a new one, and slide it into your unit’s air filter return port.
In summary, the UBeesize Reusable Air Filter is a cost-effective and eco-friendly option for fresher air in your home and reducing material waste. It is easy to install, and the reusable ABS plastic frame and 9 built-in filters can provide 27 months of filter usage.
This innovative air filter is designed to be the last air filter you will ever buy for your home or office. Made from a pleated synthetic filter media, the K&N air filter provides excellent filtration and dust capacity for long-life performance. With a MERV rating of 11, this filter is designed to capture a wide range of airborne contaminants, including dust, pollen, and other allergens.
One of the key benefits of the K&N HVAC Furnace Air Filter is its washable and reusable design. Instead of repeatedly purchasing disposable filters, remove the K&N filter from its housing, wash it with a K&N HVAC filter cleaner, rinse it with a low-pressure hose, and let it dry before reinstalling. This can save you money and help reduce waste in landfills. The filter is also easy to install, with a design that allows it to fit directly into your filter register. With excellent airflow, the K&N air filter can help maintain the efficiency of your HVAC system while improving the quality of the air you breathe.
The Importance of Choosing the Right Air Filter for Your AC
Selecting the right air filter for your air conditioning unit is a critical decision for homeowners and businesses. A high-quality filter not only improves indoor air quality but also ensures the longevity and efficiency of the AC system. With various options available on the market, including fiberglass, pleated, electrostatic, and reusable filters, it’s essential to understand the differences and the ratings that define their effectiveness.
A higher MERV or MPR rating means that the filter can capture smaller particles, but it also may reduce airflow, putting additional strain on the AC unit. Regularly replacing filters, as the manufacturer recommends, can save you money in the long run by preventing system damage, reducing operating costs, and promoting a healthier environment. By considering factors such as filter material, size, MERV/MPR rating, and replacement frequency, you can choose the best air filter for your specific needs, ensuring optimal performance and air quality for years to come.