How to Compare Air Conditioner Filter Specifications
A residential air conditioner filter should help generate clean, healthy air that is free of dust, pet dander and other particulates or allergens. When you’re shopping for air filters, it’s important to compare different features such as the level of particle removal, MERV ratings and the level of airflow resistance. Here are some features you should compare in selecting the right filters for your home.
Heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC) filters are designed to remove particulates and pollutants from the air. These particles may include dust mites, pollen, mold spores, airborne viruses, pet dander, lint, auto emissions and smoke. Keep in mind that some of these particles might not apply to your residence. For example, if you don’t have any pets, you may not need a filter that removes pet dander.
The American Society of Heating, Refrigerating and Air-Conditioning Engineers (ASHRAE) created MERV ratings to designate performance levels for air filters. MERV stands for “Minimum Efficiency Reporting Value”. These ratings range from one to 16 for the type of filters typically used in a residence. The higher the rating number, the smaller the particulates the filter is able to trap and keep from your breathable air. A higher MERV rating also can indicate a longer lasting filter. MERV ratings do not include the filter’s efficiency for filtering out gasses.
For an air conditioning system to function at its best, it must have good airflow. Airflow resistance is the difference between the incoming flow of air and the outgoing flow of air through the filter. The lower the airflow resistance, the more the air circulates throughout your house and the more efficient your air conditioner can run.
To determine the dimensions of an air conditioner filter, begin by looking at the filter that is in place now. Look for the size printed on the filter frame. It may read “14 x 25 x 1” or “12 x 36 x 1” or another combination of three measurement numbers. This is the nominal size. If the numbers are not visible, measure the outer dimensions of the filter and round each actual dimension up to the nearest inch to find the nominal measurement.
Filter Style for Better Performance?
When you compare air conditioner filters, you can choose from options that include a fiberglass filter or a pleated filter. The fiberglass style has a flat base and is more porous. This style of filter may cost less but tends to capture less dust and particles. Experts recommend changing this style on a monthly basis. The pleated air conditioner filter is denser with a larger surface area that will collect more dust and particulates. A filter with pleats essentially has more filtering material to give a higher efficiency without losing airflow. The pleated style filter should be changed about every three months.
Custom Filters and Reusable Filters
Custom air conditioner filters and reusable air conditioner filters give you additional options when you’re shopping for filtration products. A custom air filter can be designed to fit your household’s exact needs and size specifications. A reusable filter can be washed and used multiple times, offering potential money savings. Be sure to read all the specifications on either type of filter to ensure it’s the right choice for your household. Not only do HVAC systems need regular filter changes, but any window air conditioner filter needs to be changed regularly as well. Most filters should be changed every few months, but always refer to the manufacturer’s instructions for specific guidelines.