OEM vs Aftermarket

OEM vs. Aftermarket Filters

What’s the difference between an Original Equipment Manufacturer (OEM) filter and an aftermarket filter? This is a question our customer service representatives hear quite a bit. Never fear, DiscountFilters.com is here to tell you all you ever wanted to know about OEM and aftermarket filters.

What are OEM Fridge Filters?

An OEM filter is one made and sold by the same manufacturer as the original piece of equipment. These are the exact models of refrigerator filters found in the original equipment at the time of purchase. Some individuals also refer to OEM as factory original. Aftermarket products are those that are not created by the same manufacturer, but are made to fit and perform just as well as the original. Each option has its own set of advantages and disadvantages.

Price is the most noticeable difference between OEM and aftermarket options in most instances. Traditionally OEM parts are around 60% more expensive than aftermarket parts. The reason behind this price difference is OEM filters come to market through the appliance parts supply chain and the number of parties in that chain tends to drive up the price. In simpler terms: manufacturer sells to distributor, distributor marks up to retailer, then retailer marks up to consumer. All of the “middlemen” must make money on the item, which naturally increases the price for customers. Aftermarket parts often come with a wide price range due to the number of brands and options.

Small Fridge FiltersWater Filters

Depending on the type of refrigerator water filter, OEM and aftermarket filters may differ in gallon capacity, PSI range, price and some certifications.

  • Gallon capacity measures how many gallons the fridge filter can clean before it needs to be changed. It can vary depending on brand and filter. When considering between an OEM and aftermarket filter, compare the gallon capacity to determine which filter may last longer when the price difference is close.
  • PSI range measures the force at which water flows through your water pipes. PSI stands for pounds (of pressure) per square inch. Your refrigerator’s water system functions within a specific PSI range. The water filter’s PSI range must be compatible with refrigerator’s range. Check your owner’s manual for the water pressure or PSI range. It can vary between models and even between OEM and aftermarket filters.
  • Price differences between OEM and aftermarket fridge filters are common. Typically, the aftermarket filter made by a third-party manufacturer costs less.
  • NSF International tested and certified means a water filter has been tested by the NSF (National Sanitation Foundation) International for the reduction of various water contaminants. These may include – but are not limited to – chlorine, lead, microorganisms, turbidity and chemicals. Often OEM filters are certified against Standard 42 for the reduction of chlorine and Standard 53 for the reduction of lead, turbidity, cysts (microorganisms) and chemicals. Aftermarket filters also undergo testing, but not all may be certified by NSF International.

OEM and aftermarket water filters typically share the same temperature range, water flow rate and capabilities for reducing contaminants from water.

  • Temperature range is simply the range of water temperature for the filter’s best performance.
  • Water flow rate is the amount of time it takes the water to move through the refrigerator’s system and then dispense into your glass. A water flow rate of 0.5 gallons per minute means the system can dispense one-half gallon of water within one minute.
  • Contaminant reduction is a job all fridge filters, either OEM or aftermarket, perform. Even a filter that isn’t certified will reduce impurities.

Small Furnace FiltersAir Filters

OEM and aftermarket air filters are don’t have as many differences as the water filter counterparts, but there are still some you should be aware of:

  • Price-the major difference between OEM and aftermarket air filters is the price. OEM will usually cost more because you are getting the brand name.
  • Material-The OEM and aftermarket will look almost identical to you, but the material may differ slightly due to patents or availability.
  • Brand name-The aftermarket filters will not carry the brand name that your original filter probably had. Many people think they have to buy the exact brand filter each time, but as long as it is the right size and type, it will perform as well as the OEM model.

The OEM and aftermarket air filters typically carry a lot of similarities, for example:

  • Contaminant reduction-each filter is designed to filter out the containments in the air. The actual amount the will be reduced is based on the MERV rating.
  • MERV Rating-Both OEM and aftermarket filters are given a MERV rating. The rating is based on the filtration level of the filter and can range from 1-16. It is best to decide what filter you want based on the MERV rating and not whether it is OEM or aftermarket.

DiscountFilters.com offers numerous filter sizes and types to best fit your home or business’s filtration needs. We have an array of both OEM and aftermarket air filters – a selection guaranteed to fit every buyer’s needs.

Get the best selection of OEM and aftermarket refrigerator filters, water filters, furnace filters, and air conditioning filters at the best prices on the web.

13 thoughts on “OEM vs. Aftermarket Filters”

  1. If the aftermarket water filter is as good as the OEM brand, then why can’t it meet the NSF 42 & 53 standards? If it doesn’t list them, you have no guarantee that they meet that standard, do you?

    • Thanks for asking,

      It’s not that the aftermarket filters don’t meet the standards, it’s that they haven’t been tested by the NSF. If a product was tested for those standards and failed we would not sell it on our site, we only want the best products for our customers.

      It can actually be pretty costly to have the NSF test a product, which is why you’ll most likely only see NSF standards on the name brand OEM products. We do have our own standards that we test the products we sell against, and I recommend checking out customer reviews on our site when comparing the aftermarket vs OEM.

      • So, are you saying that the filters do, in fact meet the 42 and 53 standards, just that they are not tested by the NSF? I noticed on one filter I was looking at that it specifically stated it reduced chlorine, odor, taste, etc., but did not mention the other contaminants addressed by the 53 standards (benzene, etc.) I’m concerned that these filters do not do the same job as the OEM.

  2. As to Aprilaire 213 and 413, the merv is lower and the after-market filters don’t filter out smoke & bacteria, right?

  3. Im looking to purchase a MWF filter for my GE Refrig. Clear Choice only says it removes chlorine and odor. Where as GE mwf list lead,cyst , tubitity,mercury, benzene, etc. Will clear choice do that also ? Reviews dont mean a thing when it comes to that. Taste is important, but also will not give an answer to will it remove these harsh chemicals. As a lab tech in the chemical industry for 30 years I would rather know for sure. Your feelings on this.
    Thank you

  4. Every six month i received warning from my refrigerator to replace my filter. following my calculation i drink only half of the filter capability. do i really need to replace the filter so often??

  5. I was a clinical scientist and laboratory administrator for many years. I’m familiar with NSF certifications and the importance of having such standards. International standardization for all filtration, thermometer, and electrical apparatus must meet international standards if accreditation and accuracy are required.

    I would like to see non-OEM water filters have NSF certification. They might be a little more expensive then filters that have not gone thru NSF testing, but could still be a less expensive alternative to OEM since there are still no middle-men to contend with.

    NSF certification would provide significant built in assurances, reliability, and peace of mind for, what I believe would be, a significant consumer base. As for me, until the non-OEM water filter replacements can meet or exceed NSF standards, I feel compelled to continue purchasing the more expensive OEM water filters.

    Note: my comments here are not intended to demean,belittle or be dismissive of non-OEM filters. I’m sure that most are very good products, and can withstand the rigors of NSF certification, if the companies were so inclined.

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