Types of HVAC Filters

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Types of HVAC Filters

HVAC filters can either be disposable (with cardboard frames) or permanent (with fiberglass or metal framing). Disposable models are much cheaper, but require monthly replacement, therefore it is best to have several on hand in order to save you time throughout the year. Permanent brands are more cost-effective due to their reusability but require more work because of the routine cleaning. All HVAC air filters come with a MERV (Minimum Efficiency Report Value) Rating. This reports the product’s capability in trapping particles and helps you compare the performance of different brands: the higher the MERV rating, the more productive the filtration. Here are few different products out there, each with their own pros and cons:

Fiberglass/Synthetic Filters

Fiberglass/Synthetic Filters – HVAC Filters

Fiberglass or synthetic filters are a cheap and disposable option for your furnace. They catch up to 80% of particles 50 microns and larger and 25% of particles between 3 to 10 microns. Considered minimum protection, fiberglass/synthetic filters prevent dust and dirt from building up on heat exchangers, fan motors, and other surfaces. The larger particles are trapped and eliminated, so your furnace components remain clean. They allow your system to have maximum airflow but don’t filter harmful contaminants affecting your health.

Polyester Filters – HVAC Filters

Polyester filters are made using the highest quality materials available and are median-sized. They trap and eliminate 80% to 95% of particles 5 microns or larger. A polyester filter costs fours time more than the average fiberglass/synthetic filter, but it offers more protection against pollutants that cause health issues.

Polyester Filters
Electrostatic Filters

Electrostatic Filters – HVAC Filters

Electrostatic filters use self-charging fibers to attract particles out of your air. You can purchase disposable or washable electrostatic filters depending on the requirements of your furnace. Washable versions offer a MERV rating between 4 and 10 and last considerably longer than the average filter. Maintenance on a washable filter requires soap and water to wash the filter and letting it completely dry before reinstalling it. If you install it before it completely dries, you run the risk of mildew and mold growth.

Pleated Filters – HVAC Filters

A pleated filter offers high-efficiency results by trapping particulates 0.3 micron in size, such as bacteria and viruses. Pleated filters are more efficient and last longer compared to fiberglass/synthetic filters. They eliminate more pollutants from your air without sacrificing airflow within your system.

Pleated Filters

What’s in a MERV?

The Maximum Efficiency Reporting Value, or MERV, is an industry standard rating to let consumers know how well an air filter cleans the air passing through it. Most filters will state the MERV rating on the packaging. It indicates the size of particles, measured in microns, which a filter will capture. The higher the MERV rating is, the smaller the particle it can grab. To give you an idea of particle size:

  • A human hair is around 60 to 75 microns.
  • Dust particles range between 0.5 to 5 microns.
  • Pollen can be as big as 100 microns or as small as 10 microns.
  • Smoke carries particles as small as 0.3 microns.

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