If you’re like me and big on filters, then you might go down the same rabbit hole when it comes to shopping for the right filter for your HVAC unit and water system. Will an aftermarket filter do the same job that an OEM filter will? Okay, so maybe you don’t find yourself thinking about this very often, but you might wonder about aftermarket filters every time you see the price tag on an OEM. The simple answer: it depends. The long answer: well, read on.
What Are Aftermarket Products?
Aftermarket products are items—filters, in this case—made to fit a certain product made by another company or manufacturer. They are called ‘aftermarket’ because they hit the stores after the original manufacturer’s products do. A non-filter related example: you might use a Keurig machine at home, but use an off-brand selection of k-cups. Those non-Keurig k-cups are aftermarket products.
Why Buy Aftermarket Products?
There is some controversy over using aftermarket products over OEM products. In many cases, aftermarket products are mass-produced and often sold for less than the OEM products, making them a cheaper option. Of course, the OEM doesn’t make these products, so the controversy lies in how well the aftermarket products compare with OEM products.
How Do Aftermarket Products Compare to OEM?
This isn’t an easy question to answer. Aftermarket products aren’t always cheaper. In fact, some are intended to outshine the OEM counterpart. For example, an aftermarket filter may actually have better filtering properties or methods. Sometimes, OEM products come with a fairly standard performance level, and if you’re looking for higher performance, you might look for an aftermarket product. Or maybe you’re trying to save a little, and you’re looking for off-brand products to use instead of the name-brand item. Ultimately, there are aftermarket products—including filters—that are better than their OEM counterparts, others that are of lower quality, and some that stack up at the same level.
What I Say
Before you make a quick decision to save a couple bucks or hop on board with a product that claims better performance, take some time to do some research on the product. Read through the product description, review its promises and guarantees, look at return options, and check out what others have to say about the product. There are great aftermarket options out there—you’ve just got to look around to find them.