Air filters are an integral role in keeping the air in your home fresh and healthy. There are many factors to consider when it comes to choosing the right HVAC filter. The first question you should ask yourself before you purchase a new air filter is what you’re trying to reduce or remove. All air filters come in different sizes, materials, and MERV ratings.
What is a MERV Rating?
MERV stands for Minimum Efficiency Reporting Value and is a system for measuring filtration capabilities in air filters. Each filter has a MERV rating ranging from 1-20 with 1 being the lowest filtration level. Most residential air filters fall between 1 and 13. It’s important to know that a higher MERV rating doesn’t mean it’s the best choice for your HVAC system. Higher MERV ratings can restrict airflow, causing the system to overwork, resulting in premature equipment failure.
Air Filter Types
In addition to all the different size filters on the market, there are many types of materials that play a big factor in filtration and efficiency. Here are the main types of air filters:
These are the most recognizable and affordable filters on the market. There’s a reason why they’ve maintained their status as reliable. However, they do not filter out microorganisms or cut down on odors, so they won’t catch everything.
Media filters provide superior pollutant and bacteria filtering while allowing proper air flow through the system. They can come with activated carbon materials so they’re great for people with allergies. They’re also long-lasting and need to be changed less frequently than other types of air filters.
High-efficiency particulate air or HEPA is a standard and a designation of filters that can trap 99.97%of particles that are 0.3 microns. Their construction creates a fibrous maze that traps particulates through direct contact, sieving, interception, and diffusion.
UV filters use ultraviolet lights to zap bacteria passing through. UV filters aren’t the best at capturing larger particulates but do a great job eliminating harmful microorganisms in the air.
Electrostatic air filters use an electric charge to trap dust and particles. Many of these filters are washable and can be reused again and again.