Types of Air Conditioner Filters
A quality air conditioner filter reduces the amount of dirt, dust and grime circulating throughout your home. An HVAC (heating, ventilation and air conditioning) filter also helps keep that same dirt, dust and grime from building up on the inside of your ventilation unit. Air conditioner filters are available not only in different sizes but in varying types. Sometimes a custom air conditioner filter may be the best option for a particular HVAC unit.
Fiberglass or Flat Panel Filters
Flat panel or fiberglass filters are not reusable and typically have a lower performance rating than other styles of filters. “Minimum Efficiency Reporting Value” (MERV) is the rating assigned to HVAC filters by the American Society of Heating, Refrigerating and Air-Conditioning Engineers (ASHRAE). These MERV ratings range from one to 20. The higher the rating, the smaller the particles the filter can trap. Fiberglass filters with a MERV 4 rating can be used to protect HVAC unit cooling coils and fan motors from grimy buildup.
- Variety of sizes available
- Can be used as main filter or pre-filter
- Lower efficiency regarding smaller airborne particles, according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency
- Not recommended for people suffering from chronic respiratory conditions
- Typically need to be changed monthly
Pleated Filters (with MERV ratings less than 11)
A pleated air conditioner filter will have a higher MERV rating than the fiberglass style. It also has less airflow resistance and may help your HVAC fan to run more quietly.
- Has denser construction and larger surface area to capture more dust and debris
- Variety of sizes available
- Does not contain any chemical binders
- Features 100 percent electrostatic-charged and thermally bonded fibers
- Can be used to extend the life of secondary filters such as HEPAS
- Lasts longer than fiberglass filters, needing replacement about every two months
- Will resist microbial growth but will not catch all minute particles and all bacteria
Pleated Filters (with MERV ratings 11+)
Electrostatic pleated filters with MERV ratings 11 and higher may be the ideal choice for homeowners with pets or family members who suffer from chronic respiratory conditions such as asthma. This type of air conditioner filter works for either residential or commercial buildings.
- Catches most of the smallest particles from dust, pollen, mold spores and other allergens
- Resists the growth of bacteria, mold and mildew
- 100 percent chemical free filter construction
- Contains synthetic hypoallergenic materials
- Long lasting filter only needs to be changed every three months
- More expensive than most filters with a lower MERV rating
Window Air Conditioner Filters
Filters for window air conditioner units also need to be changed regularly. This type of filter can be found in varying MERV ratings. Some may be washable and reusable, which can be a budget friendly option. Typically, window air conditioner filters are sheets that can be cut to fit your home’s window unit.
It is important to remember that a dirty air conditioner filter will reduce airflow, forcing your HVAC unit to work harder, run longer and increase your energy usage. Always follow the filter manufacturer’s replacement recommendations to keep continuous healthy, clean air circulating throughout your home.