My first impulse when deciding to write this article was to list four of the best furnace filters beginning with the most efficient, provide some details about each and leave it at that. But there are other important factors, besides efficiency, that determine which filter is the best.
When trying to decide which filter to use it is important to consider what your objectives are. Just because a filter is the most efficient doesn’t necessarily mean it’s the best furnace filter for you.
There are many variables to consider when selecting a replacement air filter for your furnace or air conditioner. We have created a list of the most common types of filters used by home owners. These are not the only furnace filters available but they are among the most common types.
Pleated furnace filters
- Pleated furnace filters are the most common filters used in residential and commercial heating and air conditioning equipment. They are also the easiest to find at your local hardware store.
- These filters are available in a wide range of efficiencies from about MERV 5 to MERV 13. The higher the MERV rating is the more efficient the filter is. This also means that it may need to be changed more often than a filter with a lower MERV rating. The higher the MERV rating is, the more impact it has on air flow. It will also collect more dust than a filter with a lower rating.
- These filters are very easy to maintain. Simply change them every two to four months or when recommended by the manufacturer.
- One reason they are so popular is they are available in custom sizes to fit any piece of equipment.
Electrostatic furnace filters
- Some electrostatic furnace filters are very high quality and will last for many years. Wash them once a month and they are as good as new.
- Electrostatic air filers cost more to purchase but they eliminate the expense of buying disposable filters. Pay $50 to $100 up front for an electrostatic air filter and eliminate the need to purchase disposable filters for many years.
- If you don’t like doing maintenance tasks then these filters are not for you. They must be maintained (cleaned) properly so they will remain effective.
- If Green living and the environment are important to you these filters may be a good choice because they don’t end up in the landfill after a couple of months of use.
- The BoAir 5 Stage is one of the best electrostatic air filters available.
Media air filters (Pre-Cut Media Pads)
- Pre Cut media air filter pads are not used as often as the types listed above because they are not as common in retail stores.
- If maintenance is not your thing and you sometimes forget to change your filters these may be for you. Media pads are much more forgiving than the other filters listed here.
- Because of the high dust loading capacity of these filters they can left in your air conditioner or furnace much longer before negatively impacting air flow.
- Carbon media pad inserts can be installed with these filters to help control odors.
- Pre cut pads are less expensive than most of the quality pleated air filters available.
- Hepa air filters are the most efficient air filters available.
- These filters utilize a pleated design similar to standard pleated air filters.
- HEPA filters have more pleats per inch of filter and the material used in the construction of the filters is much more efficient at stopping dust, pet dander, pollen and other airborne allergy causing contaminants that you may find in your house.
- Some brands, such as the Hepa-Pure, can be cleaned and used several times.
- True HEPA filters are 99.97% efficient and can remove particles as small as .3 microns in size.
- They are not recommended for systems which have problems with poor air flow.
P.S. There are many different manufacturers of filters and many different types to choose from. Sorting through all the options can be time consuming and confusing. There are many articles on this site which were written in an attempt to provide you with the information needed to make an educated decision when selecting a furnace filter to use in your home.