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Use The Chart To Compare Filters

Use The Chart To Compare Filters
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There are many different types of furnace filters and air conditioner filters available to use in your home. If you are not familiar with the different types of heating and air conditioning filters, the first step is to familiarize yourself with the most popular types and avoid being overwhelmed by the many different brands, manufacturers and specialty filters.

The chart below does not review brands, efficiencies or try to guide you to buy any particular type of filter. It is just a way to help you compare furnace filters and air conditioner filters in one place so that it will be easier to move forward once you have decided which type you want to use. Once you are familiar with the different types of filters available, begin comparing brands and other information to determine which one to use in the equipment that services your house, apartment or business.

compare furnace filters

Some important things to consider when comparing furnace filters:

  • There is no difference between a furnace filter and an air conditioner filter.
  • When selecting a filter to use in your HVAC equipment, the brand name is not important.
  • Choose the characteristics you like about a filter type and then compare filters of that type to make your final choice. For example there is no point in wasting your time reviewing the different electrostatic air filters available if you don’t like the idea of doing regular maintenance.
  • The best filter for you may be a combination of filters to provide you with the indoor air quality you are looking for.
  • Air filters and air cleaners are not the same. I have included 2 air cleaners at the bottom of the table because they are often referred to as air filters and they can be used with air filters in any ac or heating system to improve iaq (indoor air quality).
  • When replacing filters it is never a good idea to (stack) use more than one filter in your HVAC equipment. It has a negative impact on air flow.  Example, installing two 1 inch filters together instead of installing a 2 inch filter.

Use the chart below to compare furnace filters


Low air flow restriction

Full depth loading

Panel filter

Available at most hardware stores
Not efficient

Allow most dust to pass through

1 and 2 inch thickness

Panel filters
Media PadsLow air flow restriction

Don’t have to be changed as often as pleated filters

Great for those who sometimes  forget to change or clean their filters

Not face loading (increases dust loading capacity)
Can be messy to change because they have to be removed from a frame which can release dust back into the air

Not as efficient as high end pleated air filters

1/2, 1 and 2 inch thickness

Available in pre-cut pads or rolls that can be cut to size

Require metal filter frame to mount them in
ElectrostaticPermanent and washable

Moderate air flow restriction

Most last for years

Many have lifetime warranties

No face loading (increases dust loading capacity)

No electricity required

No ozone is produced with these filters

One time purchase cost – saves you money
Many different designs and not all are good quality

If not properly maintained they will restrict air flow

Regular cleaning is required
Don’t require electricity


Should be cleaned monthly

1/2 and 1 inch thick

Custom sizes often available

aluminum or flex frames available

Panel design
Pleated FiltersAvailable in wide range of MERV ratings from 5 to 12

Low to moderate air flow restriction

Panel filter

Can be found at most hardware stores
If not changed when needed they will impact air flow

Face loading (pleated design helps increase dust loading capacity)

Available in 1 to 6 inches thick

Available in custom sizes

Panel filter

The more efficient pleated air filters are great for allergy sufferers
HEPAPanel filter

Very efficient filters

One of the most efficient filters available for residential use
Can have a negative impact on air flow, especially if not maintained properly

Face loading (pleated design helps increase dust loading capacity)
1, 2 and 4 inch thickness

Pleated design

Good choice for those who have allergies
ElectronicVery efficient but not with larger dust particles

Virtually no restriction to air flow

Excellent for use in combination with panel and other media air filters

Lasts for many years
Requires 120 or 240 volt power supply

  • Larger dust particles pass through this air cleaner

    Duct system must be modified to install this equipment (not difficult for handyman)

    Expensive initial investment compared to media type air filters

    Can create ozone
  • Charges dust particles as they pass through and they are attracted to collection plates
    UVNo restriction to air flow

    Excellent for use in combination with media air filters such as pleated and electrostatic

    Can be easily installed by a handyman

    Easy maintenance – change lamp once per year
    Requires electricity to operate

    Create ozone – some are worse than others
    Kills mold spores, viruses, bacteria, and many allergens

    About the author: Don has been working in the HVAC industry for more than 25 years and shares his experience and knowledge on this site. If you find the information presented here helpful please share with your friends.

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